Diving in Cook Islands, South Pacific

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Cook Islands

The Cook Islands is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean freely associated with New Zealand. It has 15 small islands that are divided into two groups: the Southern Group which has nine islands and the more remote Northern Group which has six islands. There are many diving opportunities in the islands and they are all shore diving which is a mere 10 minute boat ride from the coast. With crystal clear waters allowing visibility of more than 100m, Cook Islands is ripe for the taking for all kinds of divers.

Most of the dive sites are concentrated in Rarotonga and Aitutaki where most of the dive centres are also based.

Its waters are gifted with a plenitude of marine life from the temperate, subtropical, and tropical species of fishes. It’s a true spectrum of marine biodiversity sporting nudibranchs, rays, eels and octopus, clownfish, bullseyes, groupers, leatherjackets, parrotfish, pufferfish, surgeonfish, sweetlips, trevally, crayfish, flatworm and shrimp.

The deepest dive of 18m deep can be found in The East Side perfect for adventurous divers. You can explore caves, crevices and you could be greeted by a wobbegong hiding in one of the crevices. Baby turtles hang out to grow and learn before they move on to the more open waters of The North Side in the “Turtle Nursery.”

For a picturesque diving visit The South Side to see colourful soft corals teeming with marine life such as eagle rays, manta rays, shovel nose rays, groper, cod, and schools of kingfish.

The North Wall dives down to 12 meters to a sandy bottom filled with various fishes such as baby wobbegongs, nudibranchs, lionfish, octopus and a diverse range of schooling fish.

For shipwreck lovers, there's the Mataora Wreck, purposely sunk in December 1990 and is now an artificial reef home to a variety of fishes.

To see humpback whales in action, visit the islands from July to October.

For the luckiest divers, you could by chance, see a black pearl which is among the rarest pearls in the world.

 
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To protect the marine biodiversity of the island’s reef system, Cook Island Aquatic Reserve was declared on October 23, 1998.

Some of the protected species are the giant Queensland groper, black cod, estuary cod and grey nurse shark.

Migratory shark species such as the blind sharks, shovel nose sharks, leopard sharks in summer, grey nurse in winter, and wobbegongs frequently visit the islands all throughout the year.

The Cook Islands has tropical to sub-tropical climate with dry and wet seasons only.

During winter the water temperature hovers around 23°C/73F while in summer it hovers around 30°C/86F.

November to March is the cyclone or hurricane season.

Natural hazards include tropical cyclones that could bring strong downpours and agitated waters.

The Cook Islands has a year round diving season.

Although remote, Cook Islands is surprisingly well connected to the world. The main international airport is located in the capital island of Rarotonga. For your convenience it is recommended to contact your travel agent and also to enjoy substantial savings compared to booking flights manually.

Inter-island flights are served by Air Rarotonga which is the local airline of the Cook Islands operating scheduled services to nine of the islands.

Transportation by boat is also possible and there are metered taxis as well.

The general transportation system of Cook Islands is exceptional.

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