Rarotonga is home to some of the best diving in the Pacific making it a popular destination for experienced divers as well as being a great place for beginners who want to learn to dive. With around 40 dives sites situated all around the island, there are some diverse environments to explore from reefs to wrecks and something for all levels of diver. There are a number of dive operators on the island and perhaps one of the best is Dive Rarotonga as well as The Big Fish Dive Centre and Pacific Divers.
Getting started – diving in Rarotonga
If you are a complete novice when it comes to diving, a great way to get you started is to come along to one of our free learn to dive sessions when one of the locals companies will come along and use our swimming pool to give you a taste of diving to see if it’s something you fancy taking out into the sea. Once you have given it a whirl, you can then sign up with any one of the dive companies and they will take you on a guided dive to one of the many spots around the island.
PADI and Open Water Course – Learn to dive on Rarotonga
If you have come to Raro with the specific goal of learning to dive then you have picked a great place to learn. Rarotonga is a great place to learn and whether you are looking to do your PADI Open Water Diver course or the shorter PADI/SSI Scuba Diver course, there are no shortage of companies who will happily get you trained up and ready to explore the delights that lie beneath the waters surrounding Rarotonga.
The PADI Open Water Divers Course is internationally recognised and is the world’s most popular scuba divers course. Taking just three days, you can get certified and get out exploring so if you plan to come back to Raro again and again, it’s definitely worth the three days so you can explore on your own the next time you visit.
The best dive sites in Rarotonga
Each of the companies will take you to different areas around Rarotonga, however there are some popular sites that are well dived and easily accessible. If you are on a guided tour, your guides will be able to pick the most suitable locations for you based on your ability but if you are diving with no guide, then here are some top tips of the best dive sites around Rarotonga.
Top 5 dives sites in Raro
1. Maritime Reefer (24-30m) – Advanced Open Water Divers only
Situated adjacent to the airport and close to the HQ of Dive Rarotonga, the Maritime Reefer was a large fishing vessel sunk by Dive Rarotonga in 1981. Subsequent cyclones have since broken up the wreck into 2 main sections and left it in 26m of water. With a resident giant moray, plenty of lionfish, as well as the usual suspects, this is a picturesque advanced dive in a rich reef area.
2. Alberto’s (6-12m) – Suitable for all divers
Situated close to the Avarua Harbour, this is a great dive site for all levels of diver. With lots of coral bommies and a full array of pretty reef fish, Alberto’s is a fantastic shallow site for the novice diver, or the experienced diver who likes to take photos. Only a short hop from Avarua Harbour but a picturesque dive site for finding those stonefish and lionfish, not to mention the moray eels!
3. The Caves (6-16m) – Suitable for all divers
Another dive site situated close to the airport The Caves is a shallow, curving coral shelf that leads to swim-through caves with overhead breaks to the surface. The caves are a great introduction to an overhead environment for the beginner, as there are several different exit points and plenty of light from above. The shallow coral shelf is also home to a wide variety of reef life and is perfect for beginners to get some experience diving in and around caves.
4. Jade Reef (16-26m) – Advanced Open Water Divers only
This site seems to be a favourite with the whitetip sharks so if you are on a mission to see some of these curious sharks on a dive, then this is probably your best chance. There is also plenty of stunning coral to explore with some big overhangs and a sudden and eerie end to the coral at 26m. This site is only really suitable for advanced open water qualified divers or as part of a guided tour.
5. Mataora Wreck (12-20m) – Suitable for all divers
The second of three wrecks around the island, the Mataora was once a Tongan cargo vessel which was purchased in 1990 for the grand sum of $1! A couple of days later, she started her final voyage to the bottom of the ocean and has been providing a playground for divers ever since. This is a great spot for tracking down lion fish and other reef fish and is great fun to explore the old wreck.
Best of the rest
There are of course many more dive sites around the island, with some suitable only for experienced divers. You can find out more about the majority of the dive sites on the Dive Rarotonga website or alternative sites on the Pacific Divers site.
Enjoy the diving on Rarotonga
Whatever your level, Rarotonga is undoubtedly one of the best places in the Pacific to dive and with so many sites to explore, there will always be something new to discover. If you are not sure where to go to get started, make sure you speak to one of our reception staff or one of the Beach Hut Boys and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
If you are looking for something a little less full on, you can grab your FREE snorkelling kit from the Beach Hut and go out and explore the Muri Lagoon where you will see all sorts of reef fish as well as getting a close up view of the beautiful coral.