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Trevor Frost Swims with Humpback Whales in Tonga
Posted on September 24, 2014

A male humpback dives in the warm waters of Tonga

The emails we get from Trevor Frost are not normal in their subject matter. More like modern dispatches from the corners of the globe, there is always one stunner of a statement that instantly transports us to a very remote location. But the content of one we received after he returned from Borneo, moved from one house to another, gave a lecture in Nantucket, then hit the road for Tonga before he flew to Africa, was all time. “Tonga is awesome man” reported Trevor. “Very few people here, bright sun, blue water, and heaps of humpbacks in the waters that let you swim with them.” Swimming with humpbacks?

We had to ask for more of the story and of course, photos. Trevor obliged and this is his report on, yes, swimming with humpbacks in Tonga. —LYA Editor

Trevor Frost and crew, or Steve Zissou, in the waters off Tonga

Words by Trevor Frost, Images by Trevor Frost

To travel as much as I do is a gift, a privilege, and I know that, but I still, from time to time, am worn down by the idea that I have to board another plane, deal with another airport, sleep in another hotel. Luckily—and somewhat ironically—there may be no better portal than travel for experiences that lift us up and remind us what it is to be alive. In Tonga, where I found myself just 72 hours after Borneo, I went swimming with humpback whales and was reminded how true the above is.

Each year, female humpback whales travel some 8000 kilometers from Antarctica to the warm and calm waters off Tonga to give birth. It is the longest mammal migration on earth. You hear them before you see them, for the moment you jump in and lower your head under the water, their songs fill the ocean around you. And then, out of the blue depths beneath you, a creature the size of a city bus rises slowly to the surface for a breath of air. As it ascends, its fins out like sails, the whale spins in a circle and within seconds is only feet from you, its eye meeting your eyes, obviously quite curious about what you are doing. This is one of those moments where, for a few seconds, nothing else matters. This is why I do what I do.


Check out the Travex gear Trevor Frost packs on his travels to Borneo, Tonga, Africa and, Nantucket, at

Author: - Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

  1. jessi c

    What wonderful photos! I want to hear all able the trip when you get back to RVA!

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