One half of the Island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands is surrounded by a barrier reef which makes for incredible snorkeling. We were in Rarotonga in June which was fantastic weather and the perfect time for great afternoon snorkeling every day. The best part apart snorkeling in Rarotonga is that its free and you can basically snorkel anywhere you want.
Jess did research before we headed to the island, so we were prepared with reef shoes. In the water surrounding Rarotonga there are stone fish which blend in with the ocean floor and can really cut your feet open, it’s not as posted as you would think but some sort of water or reef shoes are highly recommended. Every gift shop we went in sold water shoes, and when we got to our Airbnb there was actually a basket of water shoes by the door we could’ve borrowed if we didn’t pack ahead. It’s also worth noting that depending on the tide the waters can be quite shallow so as your snorkeling around you may stand more often since it’s so easy, so you will have your feet down more than you may think.
Pro Tip buy a pool noodle from a gift shop in town and you can float as your snorkel as long as you want without getting tired! It’s also great if you’re in groups to be able to quickly spot your friend.
The water was a great temperature for long snorkel sessions, not overly warm but definitely not cold either, once you were in it felt great and not once did we get out from being cold. There are infinite clusters of coral reefs and each one has its own collection of fish and sea creatures. The closer we went out towards the barrier reef the larger the coral clusters were and the larger fish we saw.
No need to go too deep though as we saw plenty of fish in pairs swimming around in open waters near the shore. There was one day where the water was a bit choppy and, on this day, we were very glad to have our noodles, even with the constant up and down of the current we still really enjoyed what we were exploring under the surface. The visibility in Rarotonga is quite good, aside from some minor floaters in the water there isn’t too much floating around in the water besides people and fish.
Overall, Rarotonga was some of my favorite snorkeling I’ve done to date, after finding our favorite spot on the island, we were quite content going every day and exploring new reefs and find new fishes.