Strolling Along the Beach in Rurutu - © Tahiti TourismeStrolling Along the Beach in Rurutu - Tahiti Tourisme
©Strolling Along the Beach in Rurutu - Tahiti Tourisme|Tahiti Tourisme

Four days in Rurutu

Rurutu, whale island

The best way to describe Rurutu is unspoiled and unique. A few days in the Austral Islands is a way of reconnecting with nature and a short break in Rurutu is far more than a fleeting encounter. Your visit starts here.

Field of Taro in Rurutu - © Tahiti TourismeTaro field Rurutu - Tahiti Tourisme
©Taro field Rurutu - Tahiti Tourisme|Tahiti Tourisme

Day 1

Rurutu is a unique island, as you’ll soon appreciate if you take a guided tour in an ATV four-wheel drive. About a million years ago, Rurutu was raised up about 150 meters, which accounts for the coral cliffs and the 30-odd caves that you can see today. The lagoon disappeared and left behind a plateau. And this unique geology is part of what makes the island so attractive to visitors…and to whales!

Do you know the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite? If not, then Rurutu is the ideal place to find out. Any visit to the island should include an exploration of its caves, of which the best-known and easiest to get to is the Mitterrand caves near the village of Vitaria. The people of Rurutu call them the Ana Ae’o, but the visit of French President François Mitterrand in 1990 earned them a name change. The island boasts dozens of other caves, and it’s worth trying to visit as many as you can.

Day 2

The specific geology of Rurutu offers whales a safe haven where they can take care of their newly-born calves. And from July to November, you’ll be able to observe them at close range. The water is crisp, but with a good wetsuit you should be okay. Anyway, you’ll soon forget the cold when you’re swimming in the company of these gentle giants. Not many diving centers are authorized by the Department of the Environment to approach the whales, and only skin diving is permitted. So it’s best to check before you make your reservation. During the peak of the season, two trips per day are permitted and the early morning sunlight probably makes the first trip of the day the more magical of the two.

Day 3

Your third day will be an energetic one! Sport and adventure on a hike known as the Sentier perdu (lost trail), which will take you into the mouth of the monster! Weather permitting, and provided that you’re in good physical condition, this trek in the company of a guide, is a truly memorable experience. At low tide, you’ll walk along the beach and partly scale a cliff to get to the caves, the monster’s mouth!

If you’re not quite up to the sentier perdu, why not go for a horse ride instead? There are various trails you can take, depending on how experienced you are. They start with an easy two-hour ride for beginners and children (over 6 years of age). You go along the beach to the Tetuanui plateau and stop on the way back to let the horses have a paddle in the sea. The more experienced riders can continue on from the Tetuanui plateau and climb up towards the highest ridges on the island. It takes about three hours from start to finish.

Another option is to ride over the island’s trails on an e-bike. It makes pedaling easy and leaves you free to concentrate on the spectacular views. Climb towards Mount Manureva, from the traversière, the cross-island trail, then follow the tracks which lead along the ridges and plateaus. Stop to take a drink of water and admire the view over the bay of Avera. For a shorter ride, take the track to the taro fields, the island’s main food crop, and then ride back to the village along the river.

Day 4

Try to keep a little room in your suitcase, because you’re unlikely to leave Rurutu empty-handed! Traditional handicraft is a very important part of the daily life of the islanders. The speciality of Rurutu is basket weaving. You can see pandanus leaves drying in the sun in front of almost every house, waiting to be woven into baskets and hats. You can meet craftsmen and women in craft centers around the island. You’ll find them in the villages of  ’Avera, Auti and Moerai. If you don’t have time to visit them, there is a permanent exhibition of local craftsmanship at the airport, where you can also purchase a souvenir to take back with you.