How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue
How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue

How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue

(c) David Girsh – Niue Tourism

Increase Your Chances for an Amazing Whale Swim in Niue

It’s not every day that you get to swim with some of the ocean’s largest creatures. In fact, swimming with whales in Niue can only be enjoyed just three months a year, so you want to make sure your whale swimming experience is the best it can be. If you’re reading this, you probably know that even seeing a whale on a whale swimming tour isn’t a guarantee. Whales are wild animals, after all, and tours can only show what the ocean provides. However, there are ways to increase your chances of having a good whale interaction in Niue. We go through some ideas in this guide on how to get the best whale swimming experience in Niue.

For more whale talk, see The Guide to Swimming with Whales in Niue.

Tips for Whale Swimming in Niue

  • It is illegal to swim with whales in Niue unless you are with a licensed operator – see the 5 Best Whale Tours in Niue for operators with a whale watching license
  • Whale swimming tours are best done between July and September
  • The minimum age for swimming with whales is 10 or 12 years old depending on the operator
  • Note that seeing whales is never a guarantee
  • Plan time for multiple whale swims to increase your chances of a good interaction
  • Whales can also be spotted close to shore from any one of the whale watching lookouts in Niue.

For more advice, see the 10 Tips for Whale Watching in Niue.

How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue(c) Niue Tourism

Go at the Right Season

Ok, it sounds obvious, but you need to travel to Niue for the whale season in order to swim with whales. Whales are migratory creatures that travel from Antarctica to the South Pacific for just a few months a year. In Niue, the whale season is from July to September, which is the only time whale swimming companies will operate their tours. Although you might hear that whales are in Niue as early as June to as late as October, whale swimming tends to be much better between July and September.

For more information on the right time to swim with whales, see The Best Time to Swim with Whales in Niue.

How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue(c)

Leave Time in Your Itinerary to Do Multiple Whale Tours

Whales are wild animals so getting a good encounter or even simply seeing a whale is never a guarantee. Whale tour operators in Niue make this very clear during the briefing on their tours, so you never feel like you should be entitled to seeing a whale. However, licensed operators are experienced in observing whales’ behaviour in Niue’s waters so provide the best chances of seeing these gentle giants in their natural environment.

Because no two whale tours are the same, with some tours having amazing encounters while others see nothing at all, it’s recommended that you leave time in your Niue itinerary to have at least two whale swimming tours. If your first tour is a flop, then at least you’ll have another chance to swim with whales on another tour.

For tours with operators such as Magical Niue Sea Adventures, if you don’t see any whales at all, you will pay a cheaper rate than the full tour price.

How to Get the Best Whale Swimming Experience in Niue(c) Niue Tourism

Abide by the Whale Swimming Rules

Whale swimming in Niue is only legal as Niue only allow licensed operators following a certain set of rules to swim with whales. This way, disturbing the whales is minimal while keeping swimmers safe too.

At the beginning or during any whale swimming tour in Niue, you will be given a full briefing on how to interact with the whales. Flouting the rules will force the tour operator to stop the whale swim. Some operators will call everyone back onto the boat to go through the entire whale briefing again, and in turn, ruin the swim for all participants. In short, abide by the rules given in the briefing so that you and your group have the best possible swim.

Whale Swimming Rules

Some rules when it comes to whale swimming in Niue include:

  • Swimmers will not be allowed to swim with a calf that is too young, i.e. if its dorsal fin is not yet black
  • Boats can go as close to the whale as 50m
  • The guide goes in the water before the swimmers
  • Enter the water quietly
  • Don’t scream or call the whales
  • Swim at the surface (no diving)
  • Swim with mother and calf for only up to five minutes
  • Swim with adult whales for up to 30 minutes.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Niue Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Niue. She knows the island inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Niue’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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