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The Nai'a

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

NAI'A has set new standards of live-aboard diving luxury in every way, especially in comfort and service. Designed by renowned marine architect, W. de Vries Lentsch, and built by skilled Dutch craftsmen, NAI'A was completely refitted in 1993 and again in 2000 and 2010 with the latest technology and facilities specific to the needs discerning dive travelers. This extremely spacious ship provides for 18 guests (maximum) with all the creature comforts of a quality land-based resort - including hot showers and cool staterooms - but with superior diving and a new view every day! NAI'A's sophisticated sailing rig affords her the range, comfort and stability of a true expeditionary vessel. Her large, diver-savvy Fijian crew is world-famous for their dedicated service, kava-inspired music and can-do attitude that makes for great flexibility as well as a great time!

Ship Layout:

The Salon

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

NAI'A's main salon is perhaps her most eye-catching feature. Carefully crafted out of local timbers, the 625 square foot room serves as lounge, theater, classroom, and dining room. The four tables in the salon are showpiece items, built as a gift to NAI'A by the Fijian carpenters who refinished the ship. Made of alternating planks of the four native timbers used elsewhere throughout the ship, the tables are polished to a high sheen.

When you come back from the dive you can review your videos immediately using the entertainment system located in the salon. Two multisystem DVD players are wired to the Sony High Definition television and there are extra jacks with which to plug in your own camera.

The salon is also a comfortable place to just sit and relax, read a book or take a nap. We have an extensive library of interesting books, magazines, games and puzzles available for your use while onboard.

The Accommodation Deck

NAI'A has accommodation for 18 passengers in 9 air-conditioned staterooms with private ensuite heads. All the staterooms were entirely rebuilt in 2010. Three of our staterooms have king-size beds that can be configured as individual singles; two of our staterooms have both a king and a single bunk above at the foot; two staterooms have only a king bed; and two staterooms have twin bunk beds. All the staterooms are larger than those on most dive vessels, with plenty of stowage for gear, and they are bright, airy, and comfortable. While camera and strobe charging is best done in the camera room, each room has both 110 and 220 volt power to run whatever electrical goodies you have.

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery TongaThe Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga
The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery TongaThe Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

The Dive Deck

Just between the salon and the camera room is our spacious dive deck. The divedeck on NAI'A is unconventional in several respects. First, it is huge, bridging the entire 30ft beam of the ship, and it is located amidships away from the clutter of the working deck aft. During the charter, the crew take care of filling the tanks and loading gear into the skiffs from the aft dive platform, while divers have the uncluttered divedeck forward in which to suit up and listen to the very thorough dive briefings.

Only masks, fins, and camera gear are stored forward, while the heavy and unwieldy tanks and BCs remain aft. Divers returning to the dive deck are treated to hot deck showers and clean dry towels at the end of every dive. NAI'A has a small laundry aboard where towels and tablecloths are washed daily.

Once the scuba tanks have been moved aft at the start of the charter, the dive deck cushions come out and the place becomes a lounging area sheltered from the midday sun.

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

The Stern Dive Platform

When its time to dive you'll find your skiff waiting at the back dive deck. The crew takes care of moving your gear and making sure your tanks are full so you don't have to. After the dive you simply step out of the skiff onto the back deck and the crew will do the rest!

NAI'A went into the shipyard for a major refit in 2000, which included making a bigger and better dive platform. NAI'A is now 3 feet longer and 2 feet wider. The extra space allows divers greater manoeuvering room as they enter and exit the dive skiffs. As an added advantage, the large dive platform also allows NAI'A to achieve greater speeds on ocean crossings -- making voyage time quick and comfortable.

NAI'A uses two 22ft rigid inflatables. These are robust boats and their low freeboard makes them easy to exit and enter. Because NAI'A uses two skiffs, divers who surface early are whisked back to the ship where they can have a shower and a brownie while they wait for the hard-core macro photographers to complete their dive.

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

The Camera Room

After each dive you can rinse your camera gear in our two large fresh water dip tanks. Compressed air is at your fingertips in the camera room for cleaning and drying parts.

The camera room is located immediately adjacent to the dive deck and has storage and work space for more than a dozen photographers, their gear and storage of cases. Both 110 and 220 volt charging strips are available. There are more than enough for everyone!

NAI'A features the latest provisions for professional and amateur photographers in this digital age: a computer charging and storage console in the salon and a giant flat-screen High Definition TV.

The Nai'a - Tonga Liveaboards - Dive Discovery Tonga

Ship Specifications

  • Length: 120ft motorsailer yacht
  • Beam: 30ft
  • Draft: 11ft
  • Displacement: 240 Tons
  • Crew: 12
  • Passengers: 18
  • Passenger staterooms: 9
  • Designer: W. de Vries Lentsch
  • Yard: Camenga, Amsterdam
  • Built: 1979
  • Extensive rebuild: 1993
  • Additional refit: 2000, 2010
  • Range: 6,500 miles
  • Speed: 9 knots
  • Fuel: 26 tons
  • Water: 29 tons + watermaker

Humpback Whale Watching Expeditions

Every year since 1996 NAI'A has voyaged to Tonga to conduct expeditions among the humpback whales who have traveled north from the Antarctic to mate and give birth in Tonga's (relatively) warm tropical waters.

NAI'A's 10-day trips begin in Tonga's capital "city" of Nuku'alofa and extend north into the untrammeled coral atoll wilderness of the Ha'apai Group, where the greatest number of humpback whale pods are found -- but almost no other boats, save the fishing canoes of villagers.

Sailing throughout this maze of islands and reefs, the location and activity of the whales largely determines the precise course of each new day. These are wild animals and this is no zoo! However, our experience has proven the mornings to be the best time for whale spotting and swimming encounters. Later in the afternoon NAI'A finds a safe evening anchorage near a dive site. We always plan to do at least one and sometimes more dives each day. Night dives are also a spectacular option on coral reefs.

Our 10-day itinerary to includes time for Whales, Volcanoes & Virgin Coral Reefs and our daily schedule is very flexible. Usually our days on board are so busy - spotting, observing, photographing and swimming with whales; kayaking, snorkeling or zooming out to record whale song from the skiffs; visiting a village or scuba diving virgin reefs - that our chefs become somewhat miffed about slaving over a delicious gourmet meal only to have everyone rush outside screaming "WHALE" as soon as it is served!

From the sight of the first breach at dawn, to the silhouette of whales resting at sundown, these expeditions are a special and rare kind of ocean adventure in a particularly picturesque part of the world. It's no wonder the whales like it here. Join us!