Moorea 2023 Trip Report - Bluewater Dive Travel
Moorea 2023 Trip Report

Moorea 2023 Trip Report

moorea 2023 trip report

Bluewater Travel's Annual Humpback Whale Expeditions

Words & images by Erik Lukas, Mike Chiado, & Mike Pizzi

Moorea Trip Report 2023


Every year, French Polynesia hosts humpback whales who travel from Antarctica to the islands’ warmer tropical waters, to mate, calve, and nurse their young. Interactions with these giants of the sea are life-changing, and for the lucky few who encounter humpbacks in the water, the experience is described as once-in-a-lifetime!


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


French Polynesia protects humpback whales and regulates local outfitters who offer trips to snorkel with them. Bluewater works with an experienced and professional operator who is well-versed in the art of whale encounters and facilitating interactions while snorkeling. Snorkeling is the ideal way to see whales in the open water as they tend to be spooked by anyone below the surface but seem quite comfortable with snorkelers floating above them.


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023

Moorea is on the top of our list of The World's Best Places to Swim with Whales. Check out the full list here.


A typical day of whale snorkeling starts with a pick up from the resort jetty after an early breakfast. Once all guests have boarded, the boat leaves the lagoon and heads for open waters. While cruising at a slow pace, crew and guests scan the area for the tell-tale sign of a whale water spout.

As soon as a spout is seen, the timer starts. Humpback calves need air approximately every 5 to 7 minutes, and adults every 25 minutes. A resting adult will have a longer interval between water spouts, whereas shorter intervals mean the whales are traveling, and there is little chance of keeping up with them.


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


After gauging the water spout timings, the local guide slips into the water. If they spot a whale resting or a baby playing in the area a signal is given for guests to enter the water and swim towards the guide. If the group is lucky, the whales are willing to interact, however, it can also be the case that whales will swim off once they spot the swimmers. On magical occasions, humpback whales, and especially calves, are as curious about us as we are them. Young whales are like other sentient beings of that age - playfully twisting, spinning, jumping out of the water, swimming on their backs, and generally acting goofy. This is when some of the most unforgettable snorkeling experiences occur!


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


Once again, French Polynesia and the island of Moorea specifically, delivered the goods for our 2023 Bluewater Travel annual humpback whale expeditions. This year we had the privilege of hosting five different groups over the course of September.

Weeks 1 and 2 were hosted at Hotel Kaveka, a traditional, locally run pension on the shores of Cook’s Bay. The first week was full of sun, gentle winds, calm seas, and incredible whale encounters right from the moment the boats left Cook’s Bay. From the get-go, the group was treated to the spectacular sounds of mature male humpbacks while they hung suspended at the surface 10 meters above...barely being able to see the whale, but hearing and feeling the song through their bodies. They swam with new mothers and their recently born calves, closely approaching the group over and over again. They were also treated to several encounters with groups of two to four whales at a time, far from shore and without another boat in sight.


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


Week 2 on the other hand brought in the strong wind, rain, and tough ocean conditions. However, this was countered by incredible whale encounters, also right out from the moment the group left Cook’s Bay. While some days were easier than others, there was never a lack of whale sightings, both above and below the surface. As always, there will be days when the results come easily, and others when the reward is only earned after a long and tough day on the water.


The third week was based at Manava Beach Resort & Spa, a 5* resort at the edge of Maharepa village. Day 1 was epic, and within 20-minutes of starting the trip the group were in the water observing a mom and calf whale. The calf was a little shy, but the mother came up from the depths and gave the entire group a close swim-past. A great way to start the trip!

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


This was just the beginning of the day though. After a few more humpback encounters, the group was contacted via radio that there was a different, and rare, type of whale in the area. After searching for around 30 minutes, they found what they were looking for....a pod of SPERM WHALES!!!! On their last drop of the day they experienced a close swim-past from two sperm whales in the group, including a huge male. The whales looked directly at the snorkelers and then disappeared into the depths with a few effortless tail kicks. The best possible way to start the trip!

Despite the increasing seas and changeable weather, week 3 continued with daily humpback encounters, action from spinner dolphins, and an unexpected appearance by a pod of 10 pilot whales. A fantastic and varied week with some very special sightings.

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


Hotel Kaveka was the base for our fourth trip, and guests were treated to another trip with great weather and plenty of sightings and special interactions.

Week 5 was back at Manava Beach Resort & Spa, but weather conditions were less than ideal. Heavy wind and rain kept the boat to the sheltered side of the island fort the first half of the week, and large swells made spotting whales extremely challenging. None-the-less, the group were able to take advantage of the boat’s hydrophone and picked up singing males very close by. They also took shelter in ‘stingray city’ and spent time snorkeling with rays and reef sharks.

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


Finally, on day 4 the sun came out and the boats were able to circumnavigate Moorea for the first time. The whales were also excited about the better weather and group were treated to incredible breaching and tail slapping displays, as well as several hour-long encounters with a mother and calf.


Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023


Each week could not have been more different, with a variety of weather conditions, spectacular whale spots, and a fantastic time had by all. Join us in 2024 to experience this awesome spectacle for yourself.

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023

Moorea Trip Report 2023 Moorea Trip Report 2023

We plan a trip to French Polynesia every year! Check out our trip report from 2022 here.


join us on our next trips to moorea!


Prices From $3,750 per person, based on double occupancy


Trip Leader: Mike Pizzi


Trip Leader: Mark Strickland

SEPTEMBER 14 - 21  

Trip Leader: Tommy Stylski


Trip Leader: Mark Hatter


Trip Leader: Erik Lukas

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