Niue Whales: How to See and Swim with Whales in Niue
Join majestic humpback whales just moments from shore in Niue’s crystal clear waters. Swimming with whales in Niue is like nowhere else on earth, especially as the limestone island filters surface water run-off, making for crystal-clear viewings of these gentle giants. Humpback whales migrate to Niue’s warm waters each year to mate and raise their young, meaning you could have many exciting interactions, whether it’s with playful juveniles or adorable mothers and calves.
Learn about how you can spot humpback whales, as well as swim with them, in this guide to whale watching and swimming in Niue.
Frequently Asked Questions About Swimming with Humpback Whales in Niue
Have a question about whale swimming in Niue? Chances are we answer it here.
Can You Swim with Whales in Niue?
If you hadn’t already worked it out, yes, you can swim with whales in Niue! Niue is one of the few places in the world where you can legally swim with humpback whales.
How Much is it to Swim with Whales in Niue?
Whale swimming in Niue cost approximately NZ$285 per person for a half-day tour. Some operators offer partial refunds if no whales are seen.
Why Do Whales Swim to Niue?
Humpback whales swim to Niue’s warm waters every year to mate, give birth and nurse their young. Pregnant mothers find a safe place to give birth and raise their calves until they are fit enough to make the journey back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Swim with Whales in Niue?
The minimum age requirement for swimming with whales in Niue is 10 years old. You are also required to be a confident swimmer in open water.
What Whales are on Niue Island?
The main whale species seen on Niue Island are humpback whales. Other whale species spotted in Niue, although only on rare occasions, include minke whales, sperm whales, ginkgo-toothed beaked whales, short-finned pilot whales, pygmy killer whales and orcas.
Whale Watching and Swimming in Niue: The Essentials
Here are some tips that are essential to know about whale watching swimming in Niue:
- Whale tours are only typically available between mid-July and September
- You can only swim with whales in Niue if you are with a licensed operator
- The minimum age for whale swimming is 10 years old
- You are not obligated to swim; Niue’s whale tours are fantastic for whale watching too!
- Whale swimming is not a guarantee
- There are guidelines that operators have to abide by for whale encounters
- Allow about 4 hours for a whale tour
- Whales can also be spotted from shore in Niue.
And for more general advice for your trip to Niue, check out Niue Travel Tips: 31 Tips for Travelling in Niue.
The Whale Season in Niue: When to See and Swim with Whales
Humpback whales come to Niue once a year during Niue’s wintertime to breed and raise their young.
The whale season in Niue runs from mid-July to September. However, whales can sometimes be spotted in Niue’s waters as early as June to as late as October. If you want to visit Niue in the hope of seeing whales, the best time to book your trip is between mid-July and September. These months are the only months that whale tours operate.
For more on the whale season, see The Guide to the Whale Season in Niue.
How to Swim with Whales: Whale Tours in Niue
Providing you are in Niue between mid-July and September, you can join one of Niue’s whale tours to enjoy whale interactions both above and below the surface.
Licensed Whale Tours in Niue
Whale tours in Niue are only available with operators licensed to run whale tours. These tours must follow strict guidelines as part of having a license, for instance, only having six swimmers in the water with the whales at a time, swimming with mothers and calves for five minutes or less, or swimming with adult whales for up to 30 minutes. Boats must also keep 50 m (160 ft) from the whale, so keep this in mind as whale swimming involves you being active, which includes swimming in open water and getting on and off the boat multiple times. This is why tours often have an age restriction of swimmers being no younger than 10 years old.
Check out a comparison of each operator in The Best Whale Tours in Niue.
Whale Swimming 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 also discount the tour rate if no whales are seen.
How to Get the Best Whale Swim
Knowing that a good swimming interaction with whales in Niue is not a guarantee, how can you at least increase your chances for a good whale swim?
Book Multiple Whale Swimming Trips
First, we recommend booking at least a couple of whale swims during your stay in Niue. That way, if the first swim is unsuccessful, at least you’ll have another chance. If your first swim is a success, then trust us, you’ll probably want to try and do it again anyway! Alternatively, if you don’t want to book multiple whale swims in case the first one is a success, then we at least suggest leaving some spare time in your Niue itinerary to book another whale tour while you’re in Niue if needed.
Abide by the Whale Swimming Rules
Whale swimming in Niue is only legal as the Niue Government only allows 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 50 m (165 ft)
- 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.
Other Ways to See Whales in Niue
If getting in the water is not your thing, then there are still other ways to enjoy the whales in Niue. Whale tours do accept guests onto the boat to watch the whales, you are not obligated to swim if you don’t want to. Make sure to request non-swimming during booking.
Seeing Whales on Fishing Tours
Fishing tours with licensed charters, such as Fish Niue Charters, are licensed to approach whales should the opportunity arise. If you want to do some fishing or some sightseeing, with the opportunity to watch whales, get in contact with these charters.
Watching Whales from Shore
Finally, one of the beauties of Niue is that you can also watch whales from shore. Along the west coast, you will see whale lookouts signposted, while some accommodations on the coast also have their own whale-watching decks and lookouts.
See the 10 Amazing Lookouts for Watching Whales & Dolphins in Niue for the locations of some of these lookouts, as well as the 8 Accommodations You Can Watch Whales from in Niue.
More About Swimming with Whales in Niue
That’s it for our guide to swimming with whales in Niue. For more about whales and getting out on the water, check out the following guides:
- The Best Time to Swim with Whales in Niue
- The Best Boat Trips in Niue
- The Guide to Dolphin Watching & Swimming in Niue
Finally, be sure to check out the 101 Things to Do in Niue: The Ultimate List for even more amazing experiences.