Hundreds of miles to the southwest of Tahiti lie the Austral islands. From the limestone grottoes of Rurutu to the near isolation of far off Rapa, these islands offer an exotic paradise for the most adventurous explorers. Rurutu is a small island of about 36 quare miles an hour and a half by plane from Tahiti. The Australs’ highest mountain peak is on Rurutu and reaches and altitude of 385 meters. Because of the lack of lagoons, few beaches are available in Rurutu. Though some exceptions exist with the white sand beaches of Naairoa, Avera and Arei. The real draw of Rurutu are the large schools of sharks and whales migrating by with their calves between July and October.
Diving with the Raie manta Club. Yves Lefevre, animal photographer and diving instructor, fell in love with French Polynesia more than 15 years ago during a trip around the world and has established three dive centers of which one is on Rurutu.
This dive center organizes daily dives and well as snorkel trips to go see the Whales between July and October. All diving is done from their local boat calle the Poti Marara.
Every year during their migration, humpbacks stop in Rurutu for several months, taking advantage of calm waters and a lack of predators to reproduce. They give birth and raise their calves several weeks before departing for the Antarctic. Humpbacks grow to lengths of 18 meters and weigh in at a maximum of 5 tons. Calves are born measuring about 4 – 5 meters and weigh about 2 tons at birth.
The Raie Manta Club guides you along this unique encounter with the mothers whales and their growing young on snorkeling trips. You are not allowed to scuba as you can get much closer on snorkel only.
During the dives, you will be the audience to an unbelievable undersea opera: the power and tonal range of the songs of the males during the mating season will dazzle you. Yves really likes to work with underwater cinematographers and photographers, whether experts or amateurs so don’t foget to bring your cameras along.
Every dive leaves around midday. Transportation to and from your hotel or guest house to the port is free and they have plenty of gear to rent.
Apart from watching the whales you can also go and explore the beautiful reefs of Rurutu with plenty of different species of fish as well. We just focused on the snorkeling with whales on our trip.
Getting to Rurutu
You will need to fly into Papeete, capital of Tahiti first. Rurutu has a small airport that receives 4 weekly Air Tahiti regular flights
There is also boat transportation to the Australs.
When to Visit Rurutu
The Australes Archipelago is blessed with a slightly cooler climate than the Tuamotus. From July to October, air and water temperature are around 20 – 24 degrees C. While summer clothing is fine for the daytime hours, warmer clothing is necessary at night. We also recommend you bring rain gear. The dive centers provides foul weather gear during outings. Please note that the seas can be rough during the whale watching season. We recommend that people prone to seasickness bring anti-seasickness pills.
The visibitliy is normally 40 – 50m. and the water temperature from 26-29. about 82 F.