Niue Whale Watching Advice
Watching or swimming with Humpback Whales in Niue is a top bucket list activity for anyone who is savvy enough to know about this tiny island in the South Pacific. However, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to whale watching or swimming in Niue.
We’ve put together this list of tips for whale watching in Niue so that you can set the right expectations for your experience, as well as get some tips to improve the experience.
1. Be in Niue Between July and September
There are only three months a year when you can enjoy watching or swimming with whales in Niue. The Niue whale season is between July and September, which are the only months that whale tours are available. Whales might sometimes be spotted as early as June and as late as October. See The Guide to the Whale Season in Niue for more information.
2. You Must Be with a Licensed Operator to Swim with Whales in Niue
It is illegal to swim or approach whales in Niue unless you are with a licensed operator. There are only six whale licenses available each year, with only three being full-time licenses. These are held by Magical Niue Sea Adventures, Niue Blue and Explore Niue. Learn more about the operators in the 5 Best Whale Tours in Niue.
3. Whale Operators Follow Guidelines
In order for whale tours to operate, they must follow guidelines that impact what you can and can’t do around the whales. For instance, you cannot dive down to the whales – you must stay on the surface, you need to let the guide go in the water first, and you need to keep the noise to a minimum. See more rule examples in How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue. You will be given a full briefing during your whale tour so you know how to behave around the whales. Anyone seen breaking the rules will likely be brought back onto the boat.
4. Seeing Whales is Not a Guarantee
Whales are wild animals so swimming with whales or even seeing them is never a guarantee. If the conditions are not right for swimming with whales, for instance, if the calf is too young, then this might be a reason you don’t get to swim with whales. If you don’t get to see whales, then tours might include some snorkelling or swimming with dolphins. Some operators, like Magical Sea Niue Adventures, also discount the tour rate if no whales are seen.
5. Check if Snorkelling Gear is Provided
While snorkelling gear including wetsuits are provided with Niue Blue and Magical Niue Sea Adventures, the same cannot be said for the other operators. Make sure to enquire what the tour provides, so you know whether to bring your own gear. Note that full-face snorkel masks are banned from Magical Niue Sea Adventures’ tours.
6. The Minimum Age for Whale Swimming is Either 10 or 12 Years Old
Whale swimming tours is a relatively strenuous activity where you’ll be swimming in open water and climbing on and getting off the boat multiple times on your search for whales to swim with. For this reason, the activity is not suitable for children, with age restrictions being a minimum of 10 years old with some operators and a minimum of 12 with others.
7. Allow Four Hours for a Whale Tour
Whale tours typically take about four hours. About one hour of this includes getting ready onshore with snorkelling gear and perhaps a briefing. This typically leaves up to three hours on the water. Whale swimming interactions can last up to 30 minutes with adults and up to five minutes with mothers and calves as per the whale watching guidelines.
8. Book Several Whale Tours to Increase Your Chances of a Good Swim
While plenty of travellers enjoy an amazing whale swimming experience on the first whale tour they do, the same can’t be said for everyone. For this reason, we recommend booking at least a couple of whale swims during your time in Niue. That way, if the first one is a flop, you’ll get another chance. Besides, even if your first tour includes an amazing whale swim, you’ll definitely want to experience it again if you can! If you don’t have the budget to book multiple tours, we suggest leaving some time in your Niue itinerary to book another tour while you’re here should your first swim be unsuccessful.
9. Look Out for Whales from the Whale Watching Lookouts
Boat tours are not the only option for watching whales in Niue. Along the west coast are signposts to whale lookouts where you can try your chances in spotting whales from shore. Because Niue’s surrounding reef drops off into the ocean up to 100m from shore in some places, you can see whales very close to shore, sometimes as close as 20m! Check out the 10 Amazing Lookouts for Watching Whales in Niue for a list of whale watching sites.
10. Stay in Accommodation on the Coast
Want to wake up to watching whales with breakfast? Stay on one of the accommodations scattered along the west coast of Niue. Accommodation like the Scenic Matavai Resort, Lau’s Getaway, Clifftop Fale, Breeze, Namukulu Cottages, Koliki Lodge, Anaiki Motel and more have either their own whale watching deck or private lookouts that just happen to be ideal for spotting whales. Find out more about these accommodations in 10 Accommodations You Can Watch Whales from in Niue.