Majestic Whale Encounters

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Member since: 27 Nov 2014

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

Environmental responsibility

Our mission statement is to protect and connect, this applies to both the whales, dolphins and the surrounding reef environment. We stand by values to protect our environment .As the old saying goes, leave nothing behind, only footprints.

Our main aim and focus is to educate guests on the conservation of the whales, dolphins and their environment whilst adhering to strict whale watch guidelines.

We want our guests to have an amazing experience sharing the underwater world of the whales. and hope that this will in turn bring a new respect and understanding to further help the conservation of the whales, dolphins and marine environment.

Ha’apai consists of 62 smaller islands, within those islands sits Foa, which is the hidden gem of Tonga, boasting one of the most beautiful beaches in the south pacific. The islands surrounding Tonga is home to 1000 plus south pacific humpback whales who migrate to the pristine waters surrounding islands each year. They arrive in great numbers between the months of July to Ocatober to mate give birth ,nurse and teach their calves before their long journey back to the waters of the Antarctic. Tonga is one of the very few countries in the world where you can enter the water and snorkel with these gentle giants within the guidelines of Tongas responsible whale watching/swimming.

Responsible Whale Watching Guidelines:

Responsible Whale Watching/swimming means that we as tour operators have a goal to respect, protect and conserve the whales, dolphins and marine environment.

“Maximum experience and observation with Minimum impact”

We are aware of and adhere to any local government whale watching guidelines. We have a responsibility to educate the guests on board about the behaviours, biology, and general whale information.

With the hope that our guests will come away from the experience with a respect for these animals and their environment and an interest in protecting the whales, dolphins and our oceans.

Best Practice Guidelines:

To not disrupt the normal movement or behaviour of the whales
Contact with any marine mammal shall be abandoned at any stage if it becomes or shows signs of becoming disturbed or alarmed
To not cause the whales to be separated from their group or any member of such a group to be scattered
No rubbish or food shall be thrown near or around the whales
No sudden or repeated change in the speed or direction of any vessel or aircraft shall be made
Where a vessel stops to enable the passengers to watch ,the engines shall be either placed neutral
No person shall disturb or harass any whale or marine mammal
No person, vehicle, or vessel shall cut off the path of a whale or prevent it from leaving the vicinity
Any vessel within 300 metres from any whale shall move at a constant slow speed no faster than the slowest whale in the vicinity, or at idle or "no wake" speed:
Vessels departing from the vicinity of any whale shall proceed slowly at idle or "no wake" speed until the vessel is at least 300 metres from the whale
Avoid loud disturbing noises near marine mammals
Vessels should approach whales from a direction parallel and slightly to the rear
Do not approach closer than 100m
Do not approach a calf or a pod containing a calf ( A calf is described as an animal less than ½ the length of the animal accompanying it)

Social responsibility

We outsource employees from the local villages to work in various roles including resort staff, tour guides, groundsmen, transport, fishermen, boat transfers & child care. By using local staff this will enhance the travellers experience by opening their minds to the amazing Tongan culture and language. Every sunday we give our guests the opportunity to hear the beautiful singing of the churches which also gives the opportunity to contribute in another way and experience the Tongan ways. We also support local business by dining in the cafe in a nearby village that is owned and operated by residents of nearby Pangai (the capital of Ha’apai). Traditional nights are a complimentary additional held once a week at our accommodation provider. This is a good way to experience the local culture by dance and song performed by Tongan school children. The children use this night as a way to generate donations for their cyclone aid.

We encourage travellers to contribute to the local economy through buying locally produced goods, souvenirs , arts and crafts. Including hand crafted woodwork, tapa (intricate hand made wall hangings) woven baskets, place mats and table mats etc.

These contributions are most important to the people of Ha’apai in helping their low economic status, particularly of recent times after the devastation of cyclone Ian in January 2014.

The accommodation provider we use has built an under ground water tank to supply to both local residents after the cyclone and to have for residing guests. The reason it was built under ground was to keep it cool and fresh under the hot Tongan sun. In addition each bungalow has been carefully structured to catch run off rain water and we supply the guests with information on local water shortages and how we can conserve the rain water supplied.

It is very important to us that we convey our ethical stance on conservation for our oceans and environment. As our focus is on the southern humpback whales that migrate to these waters, we follow strict responsible whale watch guidelines.

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