Exclusive opportunity to swim with and photograph humpback whales in a pristine environment - with clear water and few visitors


Join us on a truly special Picture Adventure expedition to swim with humpback whales in the incredibly clear waters of Reunion Island. Far from the madding crowd, Reunion Island has plenty of whales, but few swimmers. Picture Adventure has pioneered and personally created this incredible adventure: we collaborate with a whale research organization, whose team takes us in their boat and shares their expertise and experience in whale behavior to help provide the best possible encounters.

Patrick Dykstra and Joshua Barton of Picture Adventure have photographed and filmed for the BBC, National Geographic, Emirates Airlines, the Government of Djibouti and many others. In 2015 they filmed, for the first time ever, a blue whale suckling from its mother, and their work has appeared in documentaries, on magazine covers and in awards shows around the world. Both Patrick and Joshua know Reunion and its humpback whales well. Our goal, as always, is to work with the researchers to find the best areas and best times of day for humpbacks, teach you the best approach to get great encounters, and then help you get pictures of a lifetime – ideally of you with these gentle giants.

The Location

Reunion is a tiny, stunningly beautiful French territory in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar. With great infrastructure, incredible cleanliness, tropical climes, delicious food, breathtaking topography and lovely inhabitants, Reunion leave little to be desired. Add to that its 30 ton annual visitors, and Reunion runs laps around any other holiday destination.  Despite its remote location, Reunion has at least 4 daily non-stop flights from Paris, and a dozen more with one stops via Lyon, Toulouse or Mauritius.

The Adventure

We will stay in a comfortable and convenient 4 star hotel close by the beach and port.  Each morning we will have a nice buffet breakfast and drive to the port to meet our researchers/crew (stopping for croissants en route – this is still France after all).  The whales are found from literally 200 feet off the beach, to the more usual 4-5 miles, where the water is deep and very clear. Humpback salves will be 4-6 months old by this time, and the mothers will be more comfortable with them venturing over to inspect small and noisy visitors such as us. Bumping across the seas in small boats, climbing in and out of the water, the energy sapping properties of cool water – and just exhilaration – bring each day at sea to a close by early afternoon.  On shore, we will rest and then head to different towns for evenings out, sometimes with our researchers.  On one or two evenings, we will have presentations by the foundation about their work.

The Humpback Whale

Humpbacks are among the most social of the great whales – and certainly the most musical.  Mystery still shrouds how each year the humpback pods all over the world emerge from their Arctic and Antarctic feeding grounds and start singing the same song. But that is only one of many wonders.  What is known is that Megaptera novaeangliae are the least shy (or least afraid) of humans.  Once a whale is found, careful and respectful approach can lead to hours of interaction.


Reunion in September is mild: upper 70’s in the day, low 60’s at night. For the land: bring light clothes, with some long pants and long sleeve shirts, a light fleece jacket or summer sweater, and comfortable shoes. For the sea: board shorts are recommended (for men and women), a rash guard, snorkel+mask, long fins (freediver/spearfisher fins preferred), sunscreen, a good hat, and sunglasses. The sea temperature is slightly chilly (74.5 average in September), but it is not cold enough for a wetsuit other than perhaps a .5mm – agility, preparedness and speed are priorities.

Picture Adventure Expeditions

Picture Adventure hosts a very small number of guests on bold “expeditions of a lifetime”. Each Picture Adventure expedition is highly customized and often requires working in close partnership with top researchers to ensure that we are on the vanguard of what the natural world has to offer.


First Departure

Jul 26-Aug 01, 2019

Second Departure

Aug 03-Aug 09, 2019

Cost USD 5500: Single Supplement USD1000

Duration 6 Nights, 7 Days - 5 in water

Max. No. of Guests 6

Registration Deposit of 50% (required to hold your space; full payment due 60 days before departure)

Included Activities Airport transfers, hotel, buffet breakfast, snacks, 5 days at sea (boat/fuel/permits) to swim with whales

Excluded Airfare, lunch, dinner, drinks, side excursions,

Notes Mild weather: 70's in the day; 60's at night. Mildly chilly water: 74.5 average.