Good reasons to visit
- A beautiful island with unique scenery, consisting of steep cliffs and chalk caves, lush green hills and superb beaches alongside small pools of clear water.
- A temperate climate suited to crop cultivation (coffee, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, lychees, taro, etc.).
- Archaeological sites (maraes) and geological sites (the famous caves with stalactites and stalagmites).
- Whale watching in season (around July to October).
- Weaving (hats, mats, baskets and other articles) and tifaifai (patchwork), the speciality of the island's womenfolk.
- Colourful, picturesque villages.
- An enduring culture: many traditional events (please enquire about the dates), including the traditional visits to each other's homes, the Tere (tour of the island), the Me festivities, and large weddings.
- A variety of excursions.
Do not miss
- The circle island tour, including many points of interest,
- The coral-lime kilns,
- The archaeological sites (maraes),
- The Tomb of the Kings of Rurutu,
- The Protestant church dating from 1865-72,
- The impressive cliffs,
- The caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites,
- The grave of French navigator Eric de Bisschop,
- The copy of the famous tiki known as A'a, ancestor of the gods of Rurutu, in Moerai town hall. The original is found in the British Museum in London,
- The craft centres (closed on Sundays, except at the airport),
- The whales (July to October): observation platforms, magnificent panoramic views and crystal-clear waters ideal for whale watching.
Did you know that?
- Rurutu used to be called Eteroa, which means "Large Basket" in Polynesian language. It was later renamed Rurutu.
- French navigator Eric de Bisschop is buried on the island.
- The best-known work of art produced in the Austral Islands has to be the carving of the god A'a, which was discovered in Rurutu and is today exhibited at the British Museum in London. There is a replica in Moerai town hall.
- Rurutu has many caves, veritable palaces of stalactites and stalagmites, unique in French Polynesia.
- One of the caves bears the name of former French President François Mitterrand, who visited the island in 1990. Its real name is Ana a'eo. It is the biggest and most spectacular.
- A tree of the Austral Islands - the erythrina, or atae - is known as the "whale tree", because it blossoms from July onwards, signalling the arrival of these majestic sea mammals.
574 km southwest of Tahiti, Rurutu is one of the Austral Islands, which enjoy a cooler climate than the other archipelagos. Its temperate climate is ideally suited to the cultivation of coffee, lychees and oranges, which are grown alongside more traditional crops, like taro.
The island is surrounded by an almost unbroken reef very close to the shore, forming pretty little refreshing pools. Its endless beaches of white sand are perfect for walkers looking for a restful and exotic change of scene. In some parts, where there is no reef, it is possible to watch whales and their young from July to late October. The island's shoreline is dotted with sites of historical and cultural interest, and carved out of its high chalk cliffs are caves containing some amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
The main village is Moerai, 4 km from the airport. Rurutu is known throughout Polynesia for its crafts: traditional weaving and sumptuous tifaifai, brightly coloured patchwork bedspreads.
The inhabitants remain true to their traditions, and hold cultural events several times a year, including the Tere, large weddings and stone-lifting contests. They are proud to carry on a centuries-old tradition of welcome, and to share their history and legends with visitors.
Things to do
- Scuba diving (sporadic activity: check beforehand whether an instructor is available).
- Whale watching in season (you are advised to enquire about the presence of whales before leaving, if this is the main purpose of your trip).
- Deep sea fishing and boat trips.
- Walking, cycling, horseriding and car hire,
- guided tours of the island,
- 4x4 safaris,
- hiking (some routes can be done alone, others require a guide),
- horse trekking (there is a single provider on the island),
- visits to the caves,
- visits to archaeological sites.
- Surface area : 12.6 sq. miles.
- Circumference : about 36 km (22 miles).
- Highest peak : Mount Manureva (385 m = 1,263 ft).
- Districts : Moerai, Unaa, Vitaria, Avera, Paparai, Narui, Naairoa, Auti and Peva.
- Population : approx. inhabitants.
- Bank(s): Socredo Bank. ATM(s).
- Post office(s): In Moerai.
- Public telephone(s): In Avera and Moerai.
- Shop(s): Several grocers. Sale of traditional crafts at the airport and on the seafront in Moerai.
- Restaurant(s): Besides the family-run guest houses, the options for eating out are limited (a few snack bars and grocers' shops).
- Medical services: 1 medical centre and 1 infirmary.