Diving the Cook Islands

30 August 2022

Way out in the middle of the Pacific, the 15 Cook Islands are are volcanic seamounts surrounded by fringing reefs. They are extremely widely spread out over occupying 850,000 square miles.

Cook Islands beach. Photo: 3363858/Pixabay

Most of the diving takes place around Rarotonga and Aitutaki islands.

Named after Captain Cook, who sighted them in 1770, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand; in 1965, residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand.

Best Time to Dive the Cook Islands?

You can dive the Cook Islands year-round. Humpback whales frequent the islands from July to October. The cyclone season starts in November and continues until 30 April. The sea is always warm, with temperatures ranging from 23 oC to 28 oC.

How to get to the Cook Islands?

The international airport is on the island of Rarotonga. In "normal" times flights arrive from Aukland, Sydney, Los Angelese and Tahiti. There are regular internal flights between Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

The Cook Islands and COVID-19

At time of writing the Cook Islands are only open to travellers who have spent the last 10 days in New Zealand. You must have evidence of vaccination and have completed a PCR test within 48 hours of departure. Make sure that you have adequate travel health insurance. Latest covid entry news.

Dive Sites of the Cook Islands Cook Islands Diving Operators & Liveaboards Cook Islands Accommodation Your Comments Find a Hotel in the Cook Islands Specialist Diving Travel Insurance

Dive Sites of the Cook Islands

Papua Passage

"Passage dive on the south coast, with a maximum depth of 18 metres. Good for turtles, morays, whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays."
Patrick Jaletzky, Adventure Cook Islands, 17 November 2021

Photo: Kandhal Keshvala/Pixabay
Avaavaroa Drop Off

"Drop off dive on the south coast. Tunas, turtles, reef sharks and eagle rays can often be spotted. This site is also a parrotfish mating site. Great for deep dives."
Patrick Jaletzky, Adventure Cook Islands, 17 November 2021

Tupapa Sandriver

"Drop Off dive on the north-east coast of Rarotonga. Nice coral formations with good chance of seeing reef sharks, humphead wrasse and moray eels. Great for deep dives."
Patrick Jaletzky, Adventure Cook Islands, 17 November 2021

Whitetip reef shark
Photo: NOAA

Croc Caverns

A chain of caverns between 8-12 m.

MV Mataora

This wreck was deliberately sunk in 1990 for an artificial reef. She lies at 18 m. The wreck is quite broken up.

Maltavera Drop Off

A chain of caverns between 8-12 m.

Rutaki Passage

A narrow passage between vertical walls. Often strong currents and a chance to see whitetip reef sharks, turtles and eagle rays.

Eagle ray
Eagle ray and diver. Photo: Vovo Korth

Tangaroas rocks

Swim throughs break up the coral formations. Turtles.

Artutanga Passage

A chance to see whitetip sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Cook Islands Diving Operators

If you own or manage a dive centre: get yourself added to our directory. Have you dived in the Cook Islands? Let us know about the diving centre you used.

Adventure Cook Islands

Aroa Beach
PO Box 2022
Cook Islands
Tel: +682 22212

"533 Stabi-Craft with twin Yamaha 50s. Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 5 divers per trip."
Patrick Jaletzky, Adventure Cook Islands, 17 November 2021

Bubbles Below

PO Box 105, Aratea, Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Tel/Fax +682 31537, E-mail: bubblesbelow@aitutaki.net.ck

Pacific Divers

Pacific Divers - Main Road of Rarotonga, in the village of Muri, Cook Islands. Tel: +682 22450, Skype user ID : pacific.divers, E-mail: dive@pacificdivers.co.ck

Dive Raratonga

On the North West coast of Rarotonga.

PO Box 38
Cook Islands
South Pacific

The Dive Centre

Aroa Beach, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Postal address: PO BOX 142, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Tel/fax: +682 20238, Mobile: +682 55238, E-mail: info@thedivecentre-rarotonga.com

"We were diving with them during our stay in Rarotonga. A great bunch of people, very professional and friendly. I did a dive package with them and I had a great time. One day I was the only diver on the boat with the guide Chris and boat captain Sasha and we saw a whale! I would dive with them again. "
Candice Miller
Bubbles Below

PO Box 105, Aratea, Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Tel/Fax +682 31537, E-mail: bubblesbelow@aitutaki.net.ck

Cook Islands Accommodation

For more hotels and resorts see the Agoda site...

Pacific Resort Aitutaki: 5 star, 27 villas, suites and bungalows.
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa Aitutaki: 4 star, only resort on a private island 2 minutes away on the ferry from the main island of Aitukaki.
Pacific Resort Rarotonga: 2 star, 30 bungalows.
Manuia Beach Resort Rarotonga : 4 star,
Sunset Resort Rarotonga: 4 star

Further Reading and References

Coral Reef Fishes Coral Reef Fishes, Indo-Pacific and Caribbean
by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers, Harper Collins, 400 Pages, Paperback
An excellent, comprehensive guide to reef fishes, which is small and light enough to pack regardless of amount of diving equipment. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to identify the fish they see whilst diving the tropics.
Read the full review...

1. Shark Feeding Dives change Relative Abundances of Sharks, SCUBA News


Please send us your comments on the Cook Islands. Do you want to recommend a diving centre or dive site? Let us know. If you own a dive centre get yourself added.