Le spectaculaire saut, hors de l'eau, d'une baleine à bosse. (Photo : Wikimédia)
Photo: Wikimedia

Watch the whales in Rurutu


  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

Among the islands I dream of exploring when I return to Polynesia, there is Rurutu, in the Austral Islands. Preferably between July and October, during the humpback whale season.

My first whale

It was in the waters of Maupiti, in October 2012, that I met my first whale. Ocean side, after a dive.

I still have not got it. Because it is both spectacular and moving, to see rise from the water, close to the boat, the enormous gray back and streaming of this nice giant of the seas and hear it, all of a sudden, let slip sigh…

Incroyable ! Une baleine a surgi tout près de notre petit bateau de plongée... Maupiti, Polynésie, octobre 2012.
Unbelievable ! A whale arose near our small diving boat ... (Maupiti, Polynesia, October 2012.)

I remember being upset by this breath, this exhalation. To have been invaded by a strange feeling of empathy, facing this gigantic marine mammal, who, like me, needs to come back to the surface to breathe ...

Rurutu, in the Austral Islands

Since then, I dream of crossing the whale route again. When I return to Polynesia, I will certainly head to the Austral Islands, south of Tahiti, to make a stop in Rurutu - to pronounce with the soft R roll of Polynesians.

L'île de Rurutu. (Photo : Wikimédia / Jonathen Burckel)
Rurutu Island. (Photo: Wikimedia / Jonathen Burckel)

The island is known to be very popular with humpback whales, which come back to mate and give birth each year.

Rising from the icy waters of the Great South Antarctic, they usually arrive in Rurutu in July after a journey of more than 4,000 kilometers. They usually leave at the end of October, when the calves have enough strength to undertake the migration.

Le spectaculaire saut, hors de l'eau, d'une baleine à bosse. (Photo : Wikimédia)
The spectacular jump, out of the water, of a humpback whale. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Sanctuary of cetaceans

Polynesia, where a moratorium has been protecting whales since 1986, was declared a sanctuary for marine mammals in May 2002. Cetacean sightings are regulated and require authorization.

Apnéiste nageant aux côtés d'une baleine. (Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Lionel Pozzoli)
Apneist swimming alongside a whale. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Lionel Pozzoli)

It is not allowed to scuba dive near the whales, because the bubbles disturb them and may cause them to flee. On the other hand, it is possible to go out to sea with an approved structure, to observe them from a boat, and sometimes also in the water, but only in fins-mask-snorkel. I admit, I would also love to hear them sing ... One day I will realize this dream!

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

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  1. Beautiful ... I dream of seeing whales. I often go through whale watching places, but each time it was not the right time!

  2. Dear Corinne,
    I miss the whale shark but as for whales I have been served several times in Mayotte and for diving is very nice also without talking about the change of scenery! For the song of the whales I still remember a dive to Saintes ... bewitching ...
    You can think of it because it is easier to access and less expensive than Rurutu, there are the direct flights from Corsair from Orly or Air Austral from CDG to DZA. Kisses and Merry Christmas !!!

  3. Hello,
    We followed closely in Polynesia because I was there in September 2012 and I was there in September 2016. We also plan to return in 2018 and this time Rurutu will be part of the islands visited.
    My first encounter with a whale took place in Moorea in September 2012 and I keep a fond memory ... in addition to some pictures!
    I am interested in Polynesia and as I am on my second visit I can also provide some.
    See you soon, with whales!
    Otherwise, by the way: Excellent site!

  4. It is certain that swimming with whales is extraordinary. In any case for the swimmer. But do not you think that approaching cetaceans so closely represents a lot of nuisance for the animal? The legislation in Polynesia will soon change (according to what told me the head of the association Mata Tohora). Let's hope that the whales will gain in tranquility.
    If you are interested you can take a look at my last article: https://tahitileblog.fr/tourisme/nager-avec-baleines-tahiti-pour-contre/

    1. Tahiti The Blog: I am your blog and I had already read the article (very interesting) in connection 😉 I thought it was already seriously regulated in Polynesia, but I am happy to learn that it will be more. Your update at the end of the article (update that I discover now) is downright uplifting: 23 operators for whale watching in Moorea !!! Argh ... Without being a specialist in cetaceans, I feel that it is too much ... So yes, of course, like many people, I would love to admire and photograph these beautiful giants while being in the water at the same time but if it is better to refrain from immersing yourself in the vicinity, because it is a question of their well-being and their survival, then too bad! I like to leave them alone ... The sea is not an amusement park.