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, not a “travel in a bubble” resort. 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 – not luxury and elegance. We have composting toilets at our tent fales, and flush toilets at our wooden bungalows. We have mosquitos, flies, geckos (they are cute) and spiders – but nothing that will do you any harm. We totally understand that we are not everyone’s cup of tea, and do not aspire to try and be that sort of place. We’d much rather you choose a place that is right for you and your family, even if that means not coming to Sea Change. We want you to make an informed choice!
CHECK IN/DEPARTURES – We do not have rigid check in or departure times, 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 – We require you make any outstanding payments (e.g. bar tab, wifi, massage, etc) before departing Sea Change. If you need to make any payments at Sea Change we take Visa and Mastercard, and also accept Tongan cash. You can also pay by bank transfer before departing (we will need confirmation of payment).
WIFI – We do have wifi for purchase but ask you try to completely disconnect when you are here! For those that must stay connected to the world, you can purchase wifi for your stay (pricing is on our web site). We do not allow video or music streaming, and ask that you do not transfer large files (internet is extremely expensive in the outer islands).
CHILDREN – We accept children of all ages, but we require that they are well behaved and under full parental supervision at all times. Sea Change is a place of peace and tranquillity, and all parents need to mindful and aware of other guest’s experiences and manage children appropriately. Please do not be offended when you are approached by Sea Change staff to remind you of this policy if your children are behaving in an unacceptable manner or at risk of injury. Also note that we do not provide special meals for children (they will need to eat from what is served each day), and we do not have special bedding for children.
NOISE – Peace and tranquillity are essential to the environment at Sea Change. We ask that you are respectful of this at all times and control your noise so as not to effect other guests. Please do not bring portable speakers, and we ask you use headphones for listening to anything on your devices in common areas – and silence your devices so they do not “bing” every time you get a notification of some sort… J
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 and blender (yes we did say blender) at home… J
FOOD - We are not self-catering, and highly recommend our daily meal package which is reasonably priced and pretty much the only way for you to eat on our remote island. 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 cannot make special meals (e.g. kids meals) or cater for certain dietary or food allergy needs. If you have a severe food allergy please understand we cannot cater for this and we are in a very remote location. We do have guests who are vegan or have certain food intolerances and still choose to come here, but understand they have to eat around what we serve and that we cannot cater to specific dietary needs ) other than basic vegetarian). We do have soy and almond milk, but many of our dishes include dairy, gluten, eggs and/or nuts (or traces thereof). Our meal packages include breakfast, lunch and dinner – but no meals or snack in between. You can purchase basic bar snacks (crisps, peanuts, etc.) or a fresh coconut, and you are welcome to bring snacks with you which don’t require refrigeration or cooking. 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, but only our staff are allowed to prepare and manage these fires.
DAMAGES – We do understand accidents happen and regularly replace items based on reasonable wear and usage. However, you may be charged for excessive damages caused by yourself or members of your party. We do ask that you take reasonable care of our property and please wash off any oils, sand or dirt which might stain our linens.
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 (for any reason), even if your spots are taken up by other paying guests. 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. By choosing to go on our boats you accept the following:
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. As such please do not complain if you don’t get to see a whale or swim with a whale. This creates a negative impact on everyone and is simply unfair.
Our boat crews are well trained and give absolute priority to your safety, and the wellbeing of our resident whales. You will 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). This is for your safety, the safety of our guests and staff, and helps to maximize a positive experience for everyone. Failure to follow our boat crew commands may result in you not being able to swim with the whales, and possible cancellation of other boat trips with no refunds issued.
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.