From mid-August to mid-November, we organize humpback whale-watching trips from Paea Marina. We explore an uncrowded area between Paea and the Mataiea “motus”, further south, which allows us to have the good latitude to observe the animals with the greatest respect.
If all the conditions are met, our guides will authorize you to get in the water with the animals, in accordance with the whale approach regulation established by the DIREN. Though, there is no need to get wet to see or even hear a humpback whale, since we are equipped with an acoustic system on board to broadcast the hypnotic songs of male humpback whales.
Meeting : 7.30 am or 1 pm
Duration : 4h
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a migratory species found in all oceans. There is a population staying part of the year in Polynesian waters, classified as a sanctuary for marine mammals since 2002. Since the 90s, they return regularly and more and more near the coasts to reproduce and give birth. The peak of the season is concentrated over 3 months, between August and November. French Polynesia is one of the last places in the world where swimming with cetaceans is possible. In order not to unduly disturb the animals, a precise framework regulates the approaches. Respecting these instructions is the best way to gain confidence in the animals and to have passive and prolonged interactions. Each year, French Polynesia grants approval to companies that can practice cetacean observation or “whale-watching.”
Humpback whales return from a long migration of several thousand kilometers from Antarctica. They have expended a lot of energy and will not feed for several months while some have to reproduce and others give birth and breastfeed the young. This is an important phase in their life cycle, and the approach should be as gentle, patient and respectful as possible. After a research phase that can last a few minutes to a few hours, an observation time is necessary in order to analyze the behavior of individuals.
Beyond the Environmental Code, and in order to better respect the well-being of cetaceans and to limit disturbance, free diving will not be allowed. Depending on the activity of the animals, the sea conditions, and the level of the practitioners, the guide will decide whether or not to attempt snorkeling. Passive observation will be privileged, and we will let the animal choose to come our way … or not.
The little extra: we are equipped with a hydrophone allowing us to listen to the vocalizations of the males. It is an extraordinary experience that you can enjoy during the tour without getting your fins wet.
We are in a natural environment, and meetings are not guaranteed, even in high season. We leave for a few hours on the water but we never know how a tour will unfold … and this is what makes the charm of the “whale” tours. It is the opportunity to take a nice walk along the reef, and in the lagoon, to discover the wild fauna … Likewise, the encouters are not guaranteed. It is nature that will decide the success of the trip.
Our guides and skippers are experienced. Our priority is to guarantee your safety and to make sure you have a pleasant time while respecting the well-being of animals. A guide will systematically go with you into the water in order to gain confidence with cetaceans.
If necessary, we provide you with snorkeling equipment (fins, mask and snorkel, shorty). A briefing will be given to you, it includes the safety rules on board, the basics on the biology and ecology of humpback whales, as well as the rules of approach. We will exit off the Mara’a pass and depending on the conditions we will explore the area between Paea and Mataiea. Searching for animals can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. If our teamwork bears fruit and if all the conditions are met, a launch will be considered, in accordance with the rules of approach that the whole group must apply. A snack will be offered to you during the outing, but do not hesitate to let us discover your specialties.
The boat… It can accommodate up to 12 passengers. It is equipped with a 250 horsepower engine and 2 side ladders. You will be protected from the sun and the rain thanks to an awning.
Encounters… Mother nature is unpredictable, so we cannot guarantee neither whale sighting nor swimming with the cetaceans. Even during the whale season, as we are in a natural environment, you must be aware of this natural uncertainty, but be confident that we’ll do our best to give you the unforgettable experience of witnessing the grace and majesty of humpback whales in their wild environment.
Sea conditions… We leave for several hours at sea and we may encounter harsher conditions than in the lagoon. So please come prepared with a rain coat and un protection (sunglasses, cap, sunscreen if possible one that is not harmful to coral).
Launching… If you want to try launching, opt for morning outings. You must be able to swim in the “blue” for at least 100m. We do not recommend launching if you are not comfortable with the fins-mask-snorkel.
Children… they can quickly get bored because the search can be long and the conditions can deteriorate (swell, wind, rain…) We do not recommend that you take children under 6 years old on board. Minor children are under the responsibility of their parents or legal guardians.
Pregnant women… The jolts sometimes felt during navigation are not recommended. Please ask your doctor for advice.