Rurutu (Îles Australes)

By September 9, 2019 No Comments


Rurutu is an island of the Austral Archipelago. It is very different from others because of its size and geology. It is larger and has cliffs, quite high peaks and caves whose appearance is due to an uprising of the island during an underwater eruption. It is more touristy than its neighbors because of better management of whale tourism.

We had a brief but very nice stay in September 2019. We came with the extension proposed by Air Tahiti.


It is possible to rent bicycles. Pensions and hotels offer half-day excursions by 4×4. The easiest way is to rent a car at Vaitumu Village (tel: +689 40 94 02 42) or if you have time, in some mini markets it is possible to rent (inquire on the spot).


There are several pensions and hotels on Rurutu but all are quite expensive.

Camping or sleeping with the locals?

It’s possible! And yes, again nobody thinks but we can camp. By cons there is no camping, so no sanitary but it is wild camping. There are some places. If you are lucky like us you will be able to be lodged and feed gratos!


There is a mini market in each village but ask where they are because some are not obvious. There is not much but for a short stay it will suffice.


Go around the island and stop at the viewpoints, beaches and caves! And think about taking the time to admire the beautiful sunsets.

What: Horseback ride from a few hours to two days.

Where: Contact this pension:

Price: 7000 xpf for about 3 hours.

What: This cave, whose original name is Ana A’Eo, also bears the name of François Mitterand because of his visit to Rurutu 28 years ago to inaugurate the town hall. He had the chance to visit this cave with a pageant. The Ae’o cave, which means despicable, unhealthy, scary, was the home of Ati A’iri, the second people to come to Rurutu from Tahiti (Paea). It is sacred and is considered the temple of A’iri. They set up their many gods, all evil and men-eaters, whom they took away and pampered from their country of origin. The Ati A’iri are also called “disgusting people and traitor” that is why their compatriots wanted to exterminate them.

Where: In the village of Vitaria, north of Rurutu.

How: The cave will be indicated on a stone along the road next to a house. Take the path and go to the end.

A short story (taken on the site of Tahiti Heritage):

“This cave is located in the village of Vitaria, north of Rurutu, where there are no permanent rivers to grow taro, the main staple food for the inhabitants. other means than to steal taro in the neighboring districts.Thus, King Taaitini, with several of his aïto (warriors), are killed by the Atai in the large tarodière of Avera.

Its enemies, Tanetee and Pevatunoa, will not give them burials, referring to throw the bodies in the Avera Opupu pass, without other forms of ceremony. But the gods do not hear it like that, rejecting in the early morning on the beach the bodies of these warriors, sex erect. The operation is repeated, but again the disgruntled gods reject the bodies.

Taken by fear, driven by his people, the chief of the Atai resolves to return the bodies to the enemies, so that a decent burial is given to them. But at the reconciliation ceremony at which the Atai are invited into the cave, seeing the bonfires lit, when they ask for food, they are skewered and cooked, serving as feast to their enemies.

After the defeat of the Atai, the leader Teauroa, successor of Taatini can extend his kingdom and his peace on all Rurutu, and the cave Ana Aeo becomes his temple.

Another version tells us that according to the Araia priests, the bodies thrown on the beach were a sign, the gods had taken away all their mana. They will go themselves to the cave Ana ae’o, they will burn large pyres, then, in small groups, threw themselves through the holes of the ceiling in these pyres.”

What: Old village, place of worship and politics. Very beautiful remains on the property.

Where: Pension Teautamatea.

How: It’s in their garden so ask for their permission.

What: Beautiful hidden cove.

Where: In the village of Naairoa.

How: After the village of Narui, continue to Naairoa. The road will turn. You will see on your left the cliff that will go a little on the road. Just to the right there will be a kind of path that will go down to the beach. If the road is not paved you will have gone too far.

Quoi : Belle grotte avec des stalactites et stalagmites.

Où : Juste après le village de Moerai.

Comment : Prenez la route en allant vers Hauti. C’est un peu après Moerai, juste avant un point de vue. L’entrée sera sur votre droite.

What: Rurutu is one of the best known places on Earth to see and swim with humpback whales.


Price: In the 9000 xpf.

What: There are very beautiful hikes to Rurutu but as in many places in Polynesia they are not marked or very difficult to find. A guide can be useful.

Inquire on site and try to hike the lost trail for example!

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