Visit the Beautiful Austral Islands. The Austral Islands are located 373 miles south of Tahiti’s capital city Papeete. The archipelago is made of seven islands, five of which are inhabited and four of which are accessible by air. An untouched and mysterious land where white sand beaches clash with the intense blue of the lagoons, the Australs Islands are off the beaten track, offering a memorable and unique experience in The Islands of Tahiti.
A visit to the islands reveals breathtaking landscapes. From sheer mountains to valleys and high plains featuring the Austral Islands famous farming activities. Quite a few archeological remnants hide on each island, bearing witness to a well organized pre-European community of rich cultural and religious practices.
The cliffs and caves of the Austral Islands are places of legends in French Polynesia. These areas used to be old burial grounds but are now a place to watch humpback whales frolic in the waters just offshore. The whales come to the Austral Islands from August to October each year to give birth.
Polynesian culture is alive and well in the Austral Islands. The ancient people were highly skilled woodcarvers; and remnants or replicas of their exquisite works of art can be found throughout the islands. The locals have also carefully preserved the art of weaving coconut and pandanus leaves into elaborate hats, bags and mats. Learn more here about The Best French Polynesian Islands, or visit us on Pinterest.
Austral Islands Weather – When to Visit
Due to the geographical position of the Austral Islands, the climate during the hot season is tropical with humidity and heavy rains, and a cool season similar with slightly lower temperatures.
Precipitation is well distributed throughout the year as well as winds, which are generally stronger and more frequent than in the rest of French Polynesia. The rainiest months are from December to April.
In the colder months, the average monthly temperatures do not drop below 68°F, except in the southernmost island of Rapa, where the average monthly temperatures remain below 68°F between June and October.
On the island of Tubuai the maximum average temperatures vary between 83°F in March and 74°F in August, while the average minimum temperatures vary between 74°F in February and 64°F in August and September. The sea water temperature on the island of Tubuai varies between 73°F in August and 79°F in January, February and March.
The best months to visit the Austral islands are the relatively less rainy months between May and November. These are also the coolest months and those where there are no hurricanes.
The Islands of the Australs To Visit
The island of whales, Rurutu, is the ideal spot from where it is possible to both view and scuba dive with Humpback whales during the annual migration. The pristine lagoon and well-preserved marine environment is encircled with wonderous sweeping bays of white sand beaches. Hiking and horseback rides into the rugged interior are popular land-based activities. The islands agriculture produce of pineapple, lychee and coffee benefit from the cooler climate on Rurutu. Flight time from Tahiti is 1 hour 30 minutes.
A veritable tropical Eden, Tubuai possesses a large lagoon complete with incomparable white sand beaches. The island is the largest of the Austral Islands and the hub for public services within the island group. It is also a significant centre for agriculture. The Bounty mutineers attempted to settle on Tubuai, but they were quickly dispatched by the local inhabitants. Today, one of the beaches on the island is known as ‘Bloody Beach’. A daily 1 hour 40 minute flight connects the island with Tahiti.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful of Polynesian islands, the island of Raivavae is known for its large emerald coloured lagoon encircled by a coral reef and motu – there are a total of 28 of these small islets. The island has many historic ruins, including the laughing Tiki, and tthe flight time from Tahiti is 2-hours. Like other islands in the Austral group, the cooler climate is ideal for agricultural production. The primary crops are taro, coffee, mango and banana. Attractions and activities not to be missed include beach walks, hiking in the interior, and a visit to a local Marae.
Little Rapa Island
Spend some time in the village of Aurei with its distinct hunting and fishing culture, and get into some local fare, which includes plenty of sea urchins, lobsters and salmon. Little Rapa has many mysterious and ancient ruins. Visit one of the most impressive of such sights, Morongo Uta, which is an incredible historic fortification built atop a mountain.
Situated west of Rurutu you will find the island of Rimatara. The island is shaped by its circular volcanic plateau and is surrounded by a small coral reef. Access is available by sea and air. Agriculture is the primary economic contributor.
Best Restaurants & Bars in the Austral Islands
Le Manotel – Island of Rurutu $11 – 30
This restaurant/bar is in the Le Manotel hotel. Le Manotel is renowned throughout the island for its table d’hôte, Helen, the hostess, will make you enjoy her delicious cuisine based on local products. Telephone: 689 40 930 225 Web: Le Manotel.
Snack Piareare – Island of Rurutu Under $10
Unique whale watching opportunity while being served lunch. They serve delicious fresh fish. The decor is nonexistent at this no-frills eatery hidden behind a gate right across from the boat quay in Moerai, but the food is seriously good. The menu is limited to a couple of daily specials, but they’re a savory and sizzling hot value. Telephone: 689 40 94 04 95 Web: Snack Piareare.
Mara’ai – Le Spot – Island of Tubuai Under $10
Run by French Hervé and his Tahitian wife Ina, Mara’ai – Le Spot is the only independent restaurant on Tubuai. With a sand floor and a palm-frond roof, this is a cool and rustic place for a drink or a relaxed meal. It’s in the village of Tamatoa, southeast of the island. Telephone: 689 40 95 08 32 Web: Mara’ai – Le Spot.
Pension Ueue Rimatara – Island of Rimatara $11 – 30
This is the restaurant within the hotel, Pension Ueue Rimatara. In the restaurant, beautiful “umete” enthroned on the tables tissue recalling the grounds of “tapa”. Dishes, hearty and made with local products are served, the majority of products consumed from family farms or island. Telephone: 689 87 74 66 13 Web: Pension Ueue Rimatara.