Sea Change Policies and House Rules
We ask that you carefully consider our policies, house rules and important details provided below before making a reservation. Reservation confirmation indicates an acceptance and agreement to Sea Change policies and house rules.
Hi there… If there is one page you should read carefully on our website it is this one. Why? Because our main goal is for people who choose us for a holiday destination do so on the basis of understanding what Sea Change is, and what Sea Change is not. We want all of our guests to have an amazing holiday, and because we are a small boutique place on a tiny remote island it’s crucial that everyone really wants to be here. We offer the following important information to help you make a well informed decision.
Is Sea Change for you? Please study our website. Sea Change is a remote outer island retreat. There are very few places left in the world where you can absolutely unplug in a beautiful and remote setting, and we are one of them. We strive to provide all the creature comforts such as hot showers, private bathrooms, great food, well stocked bar, etc – but our main theme is one of tranquillity and relaxation. Our guests have describe their experiences as "epic", "life changing", "bucket list" and "best ever holiday". At Sea Change, you can TRULY unplug and experience an untouched world which allows you to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. To allow you to unplug, we have set up Sea Change on an un-inhabited island (no roads, no villages, no shops) and carefully implemented an off-the-grid eco retreat which runs on solar power and uses rain water for drinking. Your holidays are a precious thing, and our main goal is for people who come to Sea Change to have the experience of a lifetime - and therefore we aim to be fully transparent about who we are. We want you to make an informed choice!
CHECK IN/DEPARTURES – We do not have rigid check in or departure times (island time!), and do our best to accommodate all guests in terms of your individual schedules. For those arriving early in the day, we will do our best to have your fale ready as soon as possible – and you can relax in our bar/dining area or go for a swim while you wait. For those departing mid to late in the day, we may ask you to move out of your fale after breakfast if we have early arrivals of new guests. You are more than welcome to relax at Sea Change until your departure time.
PAYMENTS – If you need to make any payments at Sea Change we take Visa and Mastercard, and also accept Tongan cash (e.g. bar tab, extra whale swim). You can also pay by bank transfer before departing via our wifi system.
WIFI – We do have wifi for purchase but ask you try to completely disconnect when you are here! Feel free to tell your work place that you will be totally off-the-grid. For those that must stay connected to the world (and share your epic whale swim photos), you can purchase wifi for your stay. We charge a flat rate for the length of your stay (per device) which is MUCH cheaper than what many larger island hotels charge that are fully on the grid. Our wifi pricing is on our website.
CHILDREN – We accept children of all ages. Children who come to Sea Change will experience an off-the-grid world consisting of playing on our beach (the sea in front of Sea Change is ideal for children to swim in - generally calm and with a sandy bottom), exploring the island, playing board games, snorkelling, going out on our whale watch boats (we have had very young children swim with whales and LOVE it), catching hermit crabs for a race, and getting to experience quality time with their parents. Please note that we do not specifically offer special meals for children, but our chef can probably simplify the meal he is preparing if necessary. And there is usually ice cream available!
NOISE – Peace and tranquillity are essential to the environment at Sea Change. We want you to experience our incredible island in its natural form - and therefore will do our best to manage noise so you can enjoy the sounds of swaying coconut trees and the sea. We can't control the sounds that the whales make (wait till you here them slap their flukes on the surface), and there are a few free range roosters who crow occasionally. We do play music (live and recorded) at our bar/dining area - but generally close down between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. And if your partner snores you can always have them sleep down on the beach in one of our comfy loungers.... :)
POWER - We are located on one of the most stunning outer islands in the South Pacific, but we are fully off the grid. We generate our power with solar systems. You can charge all those little gadgets at our main dining area, but there are no refrigerators, appliances or power outlets in your fales or bathrooms (there are solar lights). You’ll need to leave that hair dryer at home - but we promise you will look fabulous with your outer island holiday glow.
FOOD - We are not set up for self-catering (our fales don't have cooking facilities or refrigeration), but highly recommend our daily meal package which is reasonably priced and pretty much the only way for you to eat on our remote island. We get rave reviews on our food! You can read more about our meal packages by going to Overview/Food and Drink on our website, and many of our reviews comment on our quality of food. It is important to note that we only serve the dishes on offer for that day , and it is very tricky to make special meals or cater for certain dietary or food allergy needs - given the remote nature of our little island. If you do have a severe food allergy please let us know when making your booking so we can discuss this and confirm a plan that ensures your health and safety. We do have guests who are vegan or have certain food intolerances and still choose to come here, and we do our best to accommodate those needs within our available stocks (available fruits and vegetables can vary day to day depending on what is in season in the outer islands), but you would need to be flexible. We do have soy or almond milk and generally maintain a small stock of gluten free cooking ingredients, but do please let us know when you are booking in with us if you have special dietary needs so we can discuss a plan for you (and make sure we have sufficient stock). Our meal packages include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinners consist of a choice between two mains - with one being traditional vegetarian, and the other being a meat or fish main, and we offer either a starter or a dessert depending on chef's choice for the evening. You are welcome to bring alcohol and non-perishable snacks with you. We do ask that you drink your BYO at your fale though, not at our bar. Tongan customs are generally relaxed about bringing food in, but please do declare any food upon entry.
SMOKING/FIRE HAZARDS – No smoking is allowed in or around our guest fales, anywhere near guest common areas, or on any of our boats. We do not allow fires or burning of anything in or around your fales (candles, incense, mosquito coils, etc.) as this is an extreme fire and safety hazard. We will have occasional bonfires for guests to enjoy and usually can make one on request!
REFUNDS - Sea Change is in very high demand during peak whale experience months (mid July to early October). As such we have a strict policy on no refunds for deposits or full booking payments, or for missed days due to travel issues not in our control (e.g. airline issues). We also do not offer refunds for guests who have pre-paid whale watch/swim trips and decide during your stay to not go on a trip. In the event we cancel a whale watch/swim trip due to bad weather or issues we have control over and cannot reschedule your trip for a different time or day, we will refund your money for that trip. We highly recommend that all guests purchase travel insurance!
WHALE SWIMS – We are extremely careful and very conscious of interactions with the whales. Our staff are carefully trained, and are all very passionate about our friendly giants. We cannot guarantee that you will see a whale or get to swim with a whale, as we do not control the whales and will not force ourselves onto whales if it will negatively affect them or create any safety issues. Ha'apai is perhaps the best place in the world to see Humpback whales. We have some of the best guides in the outer islands, and they are exceptionally good at spotting whales and know the best spots to find them - and because of this most all of our guests see plenty of whales and experience a good swim encounter. Please do note the following regarding our whale swims:
We may change whale schedules and times due to weather conditions or other issues out of our control. This is for your safety.
We do operate whale swims in inclement weather, which can mean rain and choppy seas – but we will not operate when conditions are considered unsafe. If our boats do operate and you choose to not go out, we cannot refund your payment for that trip (we will try to reschedule if there is an opening).
We do everything we can to maximise your chance of seeing whales, and getting to swim with them (all within the bounds of your safety and the whale’s well-being). However we do not control the whales (they weigh over 40 tons!). Our crews LOVE when you have good experiences, so rest assured they will do everything they can to maximise your chances of an amazing experience!
Our boat crews are well trained and give absolute priority to your safety, and the wellbeing of our resident whales. We do ask that you follow the commands of our boat skippers and whale watch guides at all times (e.g. we do not allow duck diving or free diving on whales as this scares them). This is for your safety, the safety of our guests and staff, and helps to maximize a positive experience for everyone.
RELEASE OF LIABILITY – By making a booking to come to Sea Change you and all members of your travel party agree to release from liability and waive your right to sue Sea Change Eco Retreat and/or Ha’apai Whale and Sail, their employees, officers, volunteers and agents (collectively “Sea Change”) from any and all claims, including claims of the Sea Change’s negligence, resulting in any physical injury, illness (including death) or economic loss you, members of your travel party (including any children) may suffer or which may result from your stay at Sea Change or participation in any activities, travel to and from Sea Change (including boat travel), or any events incidental to your stay at Sea Change. You and all members of your travel party understand that there are risks associated with staying at Sea Change or participating in any activities associated with Sea Change and/or Ha’apai Whale and Sail, such as physical and/or psychological injury, pain, suffering, illness, disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, death or economic loss. These injuries or outcomes may arise from your own or other’s actions, inactions, or negligence, or the condition of the location or facilities. Nonetheless, you and all members of your travel party assume all risks associated with Sea Change and/or Ha’apai Whale and Sail, whether known or unknown, including travel to and from Sea Change or any events incidental to Sea Change.