SWIMMING with whales in the deep blue sea and enabling guests to enjoy the experience with her is Lahaina Tatafu’s way of showcasing a part of her home island of Tonga to world.
The 22-year old conquered her fear of the sea to become a whale swim guide at Deep Blue Diving, a family business based in the capital of Tonga, Nukualofa and operating tours around the islands.
“The sea was my greatest fear until I saw how calm my father was when interacting with the whales and guests on the tours,” Lahaina said.
“I want to show my work by reaching out to as many people, in particular the youth, as I can and with the guests that I take on my tours. “
When she’s not out at sea, Lahaina is a student at Tupou Tertiary Institute and loves reading, photography and archery.
She has aspirations of becoming a marine biologist and to be an advocate for the preservation of Tonga culture and the protection of whales and oceans.
Deep Blue Diving offers a range of activities from the adventurous for the traveller from the more leisurely experience to the more adventurous tours. They are the only operators for ‘Eua; an untouched, undiscovered divers’ paradise, with Tonga’s biggest cave that is known for an amazing light show inside. Other tours on offer are dive tours to sunken wrecks and to colourful coral reefs around Tongatapu.
For those who are new to diving, Deep Blue offers an intro dive as an opportunity to see why so many people love diving. The dive is done in safe waters with an instructor right by and is for those who are over the age of 12. Children between the ages of 8 to 12 have an opportunity to learn to breath with a regulator and become comfortable under water called the Bubble Maker experience.
Lahaina believes in the importance of making tourism sustainable.
“Sustainable Tourism for me is about preserving, perpetuating and protecting my cultural heritage and our whales in an ever changing ocean,” she said.