Venture with us to the remote island of Rurutu in French Polynesia to experience the annual humpback whale migration firsthand. Every year from August to October, hundreds of whales migrate from Antarctica to give birth and raise their calfs in the warm shallows of the South Pacific.
We’ll bring you into the water to swim with wild humpback whales and feel the overwhelming sense of awe and empathy when you lock eyes with them. During the journey we stay with a traditional Polynesian family, share in meals together, and build lifelong friendships with fellow adventurers.
We venture to the remote island of Rurutu in French Polynesia, a quiet birthing sanctuary for the whales with less than 2,500 inhabitants.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Rurutu is both a sanctuary and nursery for humpback whales who travel from Antarctica to the South Pacific to raise their newborn calfs. The fringing reef around Rurutu provides a safe-haven for the whales, away from predators such as orcas and false killer whales who may make a meal out of a baby humpback.
Seeing mothers and calfs is common, and once we slowly build trust, we can enjoy an excellent bonding swim with the pair. It is important to follow the rules and listen to the instructions from our whale guides and team leader.
We begin each day early, with breakfast at 5:30am, followed by a gear briefing and sound-off to make sure nobody is missing anything. We then load into our boat for a 7am departure with Captain Nahuma behind the wheel.
We spend the next five hours looking for whales. When we find a calm or playful group, our whale guide and team leader will slowly enter the water and assess the situation to see if they would like to swim with us. If it looks positive, we divide up into two groups of up to four people each to swim with them.
We return to shore for lunch in town, followed by free afternoons to explore, relax, swim, hike, and enjoy Rurutu’s beaches. Optional meditation, yoga, traditional fishing lessons, community agriculture harvesting, bonding exercises and more may be organized for the afternoons, with each session led by a participant.
Rurutu is a tiny island with a total population of less than 2,500 people, so once the sun goes down, there is not much to do in town. We have home-cooked dinners together with our host family at the house and can stay up to chat as long as people would like.
All nights are spent at the Tavita family guesthouse in Moerai town, Rurutu. Breakfasts and dinners are home-cooked meals prepared by the Tavita family and are hosted at the house every day, while lunches are at local restaurants in town.
The Tavita family helps us throughout our stay in Rurutu. We stay in their house, eat with them, use their boat for our daily excusrions, their daughter guides us in the water with the whales, and our activities provide a lot of support for the family.
Prepare to spend five hours per day on the boat looking for whales to swim with, swimming, light hiking, beaches, family meals, discussions and laughter. Each participant should be a relatively strong swimmer (at least 200 metres unassisted without difficulty).