whale tail out of the water

Swim With The Whales Moorea: Best Tours, Info + What To Expect

Looking to swim with whales in Moorea? Here’s your expert guide!

We lived in Moorea for three whole months, which was truly a dream come true. During our stay, we decided to spend a day snorkeling with the incredible marine wildlife.

We not only got to see incredible humpback whales, but we were also able to swim with rays, turtles, and even sharks.

Only a few tour companies allow visitors to swim with the whales in Moorea, and we’ve included our top picks in this post to help you have the best possible experience.

The whales live far enough off of the coast that you’ll absolutely need to join a boat tour in order to see them. Tour guides often have special equipment that allows them to listen for the whales in the water. Once the guides spot the whales, you can snorkel out to them for the chance to swim with these gentle giants.

Humpback whales come to Moorea to give birth and mate, so it’s common for visitors to see mother whales with their calves.

When you’re not watching the whales, you can often see dolphins jumping and playing in the water. Most tours also offer the opportunity to swim with sharks and rays, and the rays can be quite playful.

Swim With the Whales Moorea Overview

Swimming with whales in Moorea is an incredible activity for travelers visiting French Polynesia. There’s nothing in the world like watching enormous humpback whales jump out of the water in an incredible, tropical setting like Moorea.

In order to see the whales, you’ll need to quietly enter the water near where they’re swimming. Then, your guide will escort you and the other tour participants towards the animals. You’ll need to be a strong swimmer in order to participate in this activity; otherwise, you can watch from the boat.

Humpback whales swimming

Whale season in Moorea typically starts in mid-July and lasts until mid-November. Local regulations require that tours wait until August 1 to start taking visitors to see the whales. These tours book out very quickly during whale season, so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible.

Note: Tours will never guarantee that you can swim with the whales, because you are observing them in the wild and it’s not always possible or safe to approach them. Tour guides will only allow guests to swim with whales if it is safe for both the guests and the wildlife.

Best Tours To Swim With Whales In Moorea

In order to swim with whales in Moorea, you’ll need to join a tour that will take you near the whale activity. Here are the best tours if you’d like to swim with whales in Moorea.

Best Overall Tour

When we were in Moorea, we took the Ocean Wildlife Expedition tour, and it was one of the highlights of our time on the island. We chose this tour not only because we wanted to swim with the whales but also because we were able to snorkel with sharks and stingrays.

Seeing a photo of a whale in the wild is entirely different from getting to see one up close. Watching the whales swim around us while we snorkeled was an experience we’ll never forget.

One thing that makes Ocean Wildlife Expeditions’ tours special is that the guides are trained naturalists. During the tour, you’ll learn all about the marine ecosystem in Moorea.

In addition to humpback whales, you might also see blacktip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, pink whip rays, leopard rays, or dolphins. If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear one of the whales singing from the depths of the ocean.

These are wild animals, so your experience will depend largely on the time of year and local conditions during your tour. Tours are available in the morning or afternoon, though morning is typically a more active time to see marine life.

You’ll be in a small group with a maximum of eight participants. Snorkel gear, guide, beverages, fresh fruit, and hotel pickup are all included in this tour.

Best Alternative

The Half-Day Swim with Dolphins and Whales in Moorea tour is a great alternative if the Ocean Wildlife Expedition is full. As the name suggests, you’ll have the chance to swim with dolphins, whales, stingrays, and sharks off the coast of Moorea.

This tour is a bit cheaper and still offers a great experience, but you’ll be in a larger group and won’t be able to move as quickly.

Human swimming with humpback whales.

The guides for this tour are not naturalists, unlike the Ocean Wildlife Expedition. Be sure to bring your own water and snacks, as refreshments are not provided.

You’ll need to be a strong swimmer and have snorkeling experience to participate in this activity. The conditions are easy to moderate most days but can sometimes be challenging, depending on the whales’ behavior and the currents. Snorkeling equipment, however, is provided.

Best Budget Tour

The Half Day Whale Tour is the most budget-friendly tour on this list and still offers the opportunity to swim with the whales in Moorea. Depending on the time of year and wildlife activity, you could also swim with dolphins and sharks.

The staff on this tour have equipment that allows them to listen for whales, which increases your chances of seeing and even swimming with them.

Your guide will do whatever they can to get near the whales while respecting the animals’ personal space and wishes.

Snorkel masks and fins are provided by this tour, as are refreshments. Groups are capped at 12 participants, small enough for some personalization but larger than the Ocean Wildlife Expedition tour. Lunch is not included, nor is hotel pickup. You’ll need to travel to the pick up location on your own.

Best Time to Swim With Whales in Moorea

Every year, humpback whales begin their winter migration with a visit to French Polynesia in June and July to give birth and reproduce.

The whales typically stay near Moorea until about mid-November, when they continue south towards Antarctica. For this reason, you’ll sometimes see mother whales swimming with their calves off the coast of Moorea.

Mother and baby humpback whales

There are regulations governing whale observations and interactions because these marine mammals are vital to the local ecosystem.

Whales must be able to continue their natural behaviors, reproduce, and continue on their migrational patterns, and tours should not interfere with these activities. Tours should never chase retreating whales or otherwise fail to respect the animals’ space.

Tours will take you to see the whales starting August 1 and typically end mid-November. If you visit Moorea outside of whale season, you can still take one of these wildlife viewing tours. Although you won’t see any humpback whales, you’ll still have a chance to snorkel near amazing wildlife like sharks, rays, and dolphins.

What to Expect When You Swim With Whales in Moorea

There are a few things that are good to know before you join a tour to swim with the whales in Moorea. As we’ve mentioned previously in this post, this activity is only offered for a couple of months during the year between August and mid-November.

During wildlife viewing tours, they usually supply you with snorkels, fins, and masks for the activity. However, don’t forget to wear your swimsuit and bring along essentials like a towel, snacks, and water during your experience.

Some tours offer refreshments onboard, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared with an extra water bottle or piece of fruit.

Many tour companies provide photos and videos of the experience to guests, but not all. If you know that you’ll want photos of your tour, be sure to clarify what photo services are available before you book so that you can plan accordingly.

Humpback whale swimming away

Depending on the time of year and the conditions during your tour, the waves can be choppy. Bring motion sickness medication to prevent any unpleasant sea experiences. Remember that it’s always easier to prevent seasickness than it is to treat once you’re out on the water.

Finally, remember that seeing the whales and being able to approach them is never guaranteed. The whales are wild animals and sometimes prefer not to engage with tour boats. Because the tour boats are generally respectful to the whales, they often don’t mind the presence of people and are happy to swim right up to snorkelers.

Where To Stay In Moorea

Wondering where to stay in Moorea? We covered this topic in its own post, including great options for long-term stays and varied budgets.

As a quick reference, here are our top picks for hotels, overwater bungalows, and other stays in Moorea.

📍Best Budget Spot in Moorea: Moorea Sunset Beach 

Moorea Sunset Beach is a collection of clean and modern holiday rentals right on the beach. The apartments include all of the essentials you’ll need, including a kitchen, ocean view, and air conditioning.

📍Best Mid-Range Spot in Moorea: Manava Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Moorea 

Manava Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Moorea is a traditional Polynesian-style resort. The resort has a variety of types of rooms, including overwater and beachfront bungalows, all just steps from its two private beaches.

📍Best Luxury Spot in Moorea: Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort

The incredible and luxurious Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort features overwater and beachfront bungalows made from natural materials. You can enjoy incredible snorkeling from the resort’s white sand beaches or watch the marine life swim by under your feet from your overwater accommodation.

Visiting Moorea FAQs

Can You Swim With the Whales in Moorea?

Yes, you can swim with the whales in Moorea by joining a tour. During whale season, the tour guides take passengers to areas with lots of whale activity, and from there, you can swim with the whales.

Is the Water Safe in Moorea?

Yes, the water in Moorea is safe for swimming. You can swim and snorkel at one of the island’s many beaches, or you can take a tour and swim in the open ocean with wildlife like sharks, whales, and rays.

Does Moorea Have Sharks?

Yes, there are sharks in Moorea. The most common species of sharks in Moorea include blacktip reef sharks and lemon sharks, though you may also see nurse sharks, gray reef sharks, oceanic white-tip sharks, and silky sharks.

Lemon shark swimming

Is It Okay to Swim With the Whales?

Yes, it’s okay to swim with whales, so long as you do so with a reputable tour company that follows all of the local guidelines and regulations. This helps to keep both the guests and the whales safe.

When can you swim with whales in French Polynesia?

Humpback whales are present in French Polynesia between June and mid-November. Due to government regulations, though, you can only swim with whales beginning in August until mid-November.

Where is the best place to swim with humpback whales in French Polynesia?

Moorea is the best place to swim with humpback whales in French Polynesia. The waters off the coast of Moorea are used by whales to give birth and mate, making it an important part of the whales’ migratory pattern.

The Wrap-Up: Moorea Swim With The Whales

Tour guides take groups out on boats most days during whale season, and if you find the whales, you can leave the boat and swim towards them. Some groups are lucky enough to actually swim with the whales, which is unlike any other activity you’ll try in Moorea.

You’ll need to make sure you book between August 1 and mid-November, when you’ll be permitted to swim with the whales. Outside of this window, tour companies are not authorized to disturb the whales. It’s important to respect the whales’ space so that you don’t interfere with their natural behaviors and mating patterns.

Remember that whales are wild animals, and sightings are not guaranteed, even if you visit during the right season.

Swimming alongside humpback whales in Moorea offers an awe-inspiring and truly unforgettable opportunity. It’s a rare chance to come within mere feet of these majestic gentle giants as they gracefully pass through the waters of French Polynesia.

If you’re looking for luxury then the Hilton Moorea and the Sofitel Moorea are where you should be staying.