Rurutu humpback whale swimming holiday in the Pacific

Swimming with humpback whales in the crystal-clear waters off Rurutu in French Polynesia is a thrilling, unforgettable experience. Spend five days snorkelling among these huge but graceful creatures with expert tour leaders who never neglect the welfare of the amazing marine life here.
Swim with humpback whales and other incredible marine life Five days of swimming and snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters off Rurutu Optional activities include hiking, exploring limestone caves, plantation tours and traditional performances of music and dance Start every day with a delicious French / Rurutuan breakfast
US $3795ToUS $3975 excluding flights
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8 Days
Small group
Group size
Up to 12 people
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Price is based on per person Twin or double share
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Description of Rurutu humpback whale swimming holiday in the Pacific

Many of us dream of swimming with whales in their natural habitat, the ocean. To be alongside these immense yet graceful and beautiful creatures as they call to each other underwater and tend their young is an incredible, life-affirming experience.

Rurutu, in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia, is one of the best places in the world to do this. The waters here, rich in marine life, are crystal-clear but also far less-busy than those of Tahiti, and they are cold, which whales are known to prefer.

On this Rurutu humpback whale swimming holiday, you’ll spend five days with the whales, with a specialist tour operator that ensures the welfare of the whales is a high priority. What that means is internationally recognised safe whale-watching practices such as keeping a safe distance to avoid collisions, turning off the boat engine when whales are close by, and never getting between mothers and their calves. Groups are kept to a maximum of eight, so as not to crowd the whales. Swimming responsibly with whales in Rurutu means setting an example to other boat operators, who may be less aware of the need to protect these wonderful creatures.

August to October tends to be the best time of year for a humpback whale swimming holiday in Rurutu – it’s then that the fringing reef off the island becomes breeding ground and nursery, allowing for some spectacular interactions.

Of course, you won’t be spending the entire week in the water. Outside of swimming with whales you’ll have a wide range of enjoyable activities open to you, ranging from hiking to beachcombing, visiting local plantations growing coffee, lychees, pineapples and basil, and even horse riding, in the mountains and on the beaches. Evenings can be spent learning about ancient French Polynesian legends through traditional music and dance performances.

Swimming with whales has never been more popular, which means there it has never been more important to travel with a responsible tour operator that puts wildlife and the environment first. Not only will you have an unforgettable time on this trip, but your holiday also financially supports an organisation restoring coral reef off French Polynesia, as well as local communities by the use of small, independent accommodation and restaurants.


Price information

US $3795ToUS $3975 excluding flights
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Price is based on per person Twin or double share
Make enquiry

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1 Reviews of Rurutu humpback whale swimming holiday in the Pacific

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 03 Oct 2022 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Swimming with the whales.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Carmen and Aneesh are lovely and helpful.
The resort is great. Tehiti's family that runs the whale tours are very kind and do their best to show guests a great time and keep them safe.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Our trip benefitted local people who owned the whale boats and took us out and the local people who owned the resort where we stayed. Everyone was so nice.

The operator aspires to use best practices to satisfy tourists without harming the

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was great for me. I hope it was alright for the whales.

I think the local guides need more training regarding protection of whales.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Margaret

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and we are so happy to hear you had such a wonderful time on the tour.

Yes we absolutely agree that while the operators have obvious respect and love for the ocean and the humpback whales, it would be beneficial to have some tighter rules and regulations set in place. We are working with the operators in Rurutu with the hope to implement these in the following years. The island of Rurutu is such a special place for both humans and whales and we would love to see a harmonious relationship remain between the two.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


Rurutu in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia has an abundance of large marine life, including migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, false killer whales, turtles, swordfish, marlin and dolphins. The Austral Islands teem with a remarkable diversity of life, including many species found nowhere else in the world, this is due to varied characteristics and the Austral climate which sits between a tropical zone and a temperate one. The limestone island of Rurutu has a surrounding reef and just outside this reef is a deep drop off with the most crystal clear and clean water you will find anywhere in the world.

We encourage our guests to respect the wildlife and we like to also lead by example. Some of these examples include..
-We follow responsible guidelines for whale watching that have been developed with the encouragement of local communities and local commercial operators
-We not do chase or harass the whales and we minimize disturbance
-Maximum experience with minimum impact
-Encourage guests to use established paths and respect all wildlife
-Ensure we don't disturb the balance of marine environment by disposing of rubbish correctly
-We donate a portion of each tour to a non for profit research organisation called The Coral Gardeners. They are a coral reef restoration & conservation program located in Tahiti French Polynesia. Through conferences, interactions with the public and schools, Coral Gardeners educate adults and children about coral reefs, why they are important, and the threats they face.They believe the children are the future and so they raise awareness not only with adults, but the youth.

We like to reduce waste to keep the beautiful pristine environment of Rurutu free of pollution in the ocean and on land. Here are some examples...
-Minimize pollution by keeping the smallest footprint possible
-Take all rubbish and use existing toilets
-We urge our guests to keep the ocean free of plastic and waste
-Avoid using plastic bottles and we provide every guests with a water flask
-We don't use plastic straws or cutlery and supply each guest with a travel sustainable cutlery pack
-Throughout the tour, guests will learn and be educated on respect and conservation of both the marine life and wildlife and environment on Rurutu
-We work electronically and encourage the guests not to print . Instead we ask them to download itineraries and trip bulletins to their devices.

We debrief our guests on the importance of water saving while on tour. When in hotels we encourage them to reuse towels where possible and only do clothes washing whenever you really need to. Guests are also encouraged to conserve energy by turning off lights when not in the rooms. We always recommend that our guests fly carbon neutral and are aware of trying to keep transport to a minimum when designing our tours. We do this by doing all our activities in Rurutu and also transferring people in one whole group wherever possible. We like to ensure that suppliers we use are environmentally aware and do their part to protect the environment. We send them our mission statement to show them our values and encourage them to make a positive difference.


We have done a lot of research on beautiful Rurutu and have visited many local places, so we like to make sure our guests really get to know the place and support local as much as they can and spread tourism to those in need. Some examples of how we do this are…
-All Meals while on Tour with us on the island of Rurutu are sourced organically and locally where possible
-All food is also fresh, grown or caught on the island whenever possible.
-Our trip bulletin includes examples of places guests can visit pre and post tour to support local

Rurutu is an island that always strives to keep these pristine and to protect the ocean and its inhabitants. They have an enormous respect for the whales and have many legends of whales and sharks helping lost travellers to navigate back home. These Lores are testament to a vision of how the ocean is tied to families, peoples, and the Pacific region as a whole. They rely on the ocean and the island to provide them with all of their food sources as they the island is so remote and so in 2014 the creation of a large marine protected area (MPA) surrounding the Australs was requested. The government listened and announced in November 2014 at the World Parks Congress stated that a large MPA was to be established in the Austral Islands .

As we contract other businesses for each portion of our tour, we do not personally hire staff except for our own guides and admin. We do however use companies that treat their staff very fairly and employ local staff. We voice our opinion if we feel that anyone has been treated unfairly.

We absolutely support the local arts and culture by….
-We encourage guests to visit local museums
-We encourage guests to buy local produce and locally handmade souvenirs such as the local arts and crafts
-To lead by example, we ourselves also purchase local arts and crafts

It is so important for us to respect all locals and all cultures whilst travelling. We also encourage our guests to do the same. It’s only polite to respect the people and countries you visit.

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