Rurutu is a magical island. Located 572km south of Tahiti, this relatively small place is most known for whale watching. From July to October, it’s very common to see majestic Humpback whales swimming and jumping out of the water along the horizon.
My family was generously hosted by our relatives Virginie and Jean-Claude who own the newly built Vaitumu Village, a luxury pension on the island. Jean-Claude is truly a jack of all trades; he has captained a ship, run a grocery store, run a bakery, and now has this resort to add to his repertoire. After reading numerous books on architecture, Jean-Claude hired three of his buddies to help him build the establishment in just two years. It contains seven ocean-facing bungalows, a large entertainment room, a beautiful pool, beach, and soon a pizzeria and spa.
“Vaitumu” means “source of water”, or “special place.” It certainly lives up to its name.
I’ve always known my 80-year-old grandma was strong, but wow, did she impress us all. She was the first one in line and finished as the oldest person to have ever conquered the hike. The tour guide even posted a photo of her conquering the mountain online.
The other excursion we went on was… believe it or not, swimming with whales. It was undoubtedly one of the most magical experiences of my life. I think my family members would agree. The beautiful–and completely unedited–pictures you see here were taken with an underwater DSLR by fellow Parisians Vincent and Valerie. I’m glad they were so open to letting me share these captures with you all.
We really were that close to the two wild whales you see above. They are very curious creatures, so when they caught sight of our tiny group, they turned around… stared straight into our eyes for a good 10 seconds… and went about their own way. I admit to being a little frightened even though I knew they wouldn’t eat us! It was really surreal.
On our last day, a delicious Tahitian ma’a was prepared. We dug a pit in the ground with volcanic stones and wood. Fish, taro, soup, and other dishes were wrapped in banana leaves and placed into the underground oven, which was then buried with sand and left to cook overnight. It was such a neat ritual to witness.
What an incredible end to our Tahitian vacation. Virginie and Jean-Claude, my family can’t thank our relatives enough for such an unforgettable time.