After two years in Vava’u, Tonga, we have decided to go to a new island to experience one of the world’s most incredible migrations: breeding humpback whales. For 2019, we will be travelling to remote Rurutu in French Polynesia to swim with the whales in the pristine and clear waters of the South Pacific. Rurutu is part of French Polynesia’s Austral Archipelago, and is blessed with a fringing reef, which is why it attracts so many breeding and nursing whales during the annual humpback migration from Antarctica.
What to Expect
Expect to get up close and personal with lots of humpback whales, especially moms and calfs, as well as small island Polynesian life, home-cooked meals, and traditional culture. Expect to stay in small private houses and guesthouses throughout, and bond with your fellow swimmers and the local team members who will be taking us around.
This includes roundtrip domestic airfare from Tahiti to Rurutu, all accommodation, local transportation, boat fees, whale guide, and two meals daily.
This experience is lead by Matt Reichel, one of Inertia Network’s co-founders and experienced whale swimmer. Matt has previously travelled and coordinated whale programs in Tonga , where he documented the migrations in 2017 and 2018. He will also be travelling with underwater photography equipment to help participants document their experiences.
We made the decision to move our whale programs from Tonga to French Polynesia this year due to the overcrowding in Tonga. Simply put, there are just too many whale boats and tourists in Tonga now, since it has ballooned as a whale destination over the past couple years. We’re shifting to Rurutu because its smaller, more intimate, more challenging to get to, and has a lot of whales along with crystal clear waters. Come try it out with us, we’re beyond excited.
DAY 1: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2019: ARRIVE IN TAHITI, TRANSFER TO RURUTU
Participants will arrive to Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport to catch a domestic flight on Air Tahiti to the remote island of Rurutu. Rurutu is located in the northern Austral Archipelago, several hundred kilometres south of Tahiti. After a two hour flight, you will arrive in this tropical paradise, surrounded by a fringing reef, white sand beaches, palm trees and traditional Polynesian culture. We meet you at the Rurutu airport then continue by checking into our accommodations for the trip and spend the afternoon enjoying the island, visiting the town, relaxing in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoying a briefing about how to swim with whales in the evening. If the group is down for it, we may head out this afternoon on our first whale swim!
DAY 2-7: SEPTEMBER 9-14, 2019: WHALE SWIMMING IN RURUTU
We will begin each day at 6:30am for breakfast, followed by a gear briefing. We’ll then load into our boat for the morning, where we will spend the next four hours looking for whales to swim with. Rurutu is home to many transient humpback whales, who travel from Antarctica to the warm shallows of the South Pacific to breed and raise their newborn calfs. The fringing reef around Rurutu provides a safe nursery for the whales, away from predators such as orcas and false killer whales who may make a meal out of a baby humpback whale.
We will be lead by an experienced boat captain from Rurutu as well as a whale guide to help the group interact with these magnificent mammals.
We will return to shore for lunch in town, followed by free afternoons to explore, relax, swim, hike, and enjoy Rurutu’s beaches.
DAY 8: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2019: RURUTU - TAHITI
We will depart Rurutu in the morning for our flight back to Tahiti. Our scheduled arrival time back at Faa’a Airport is 11:15am. For those connecting out of Tahiti, you should book your flights at least three hours after our scheduled arrival time, as delays may occur. For those who need to depart Tahiti earlier, there is a flight from Rurutu to Tahiti on Sunday afternoon after our whale swim.