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Dive sites

Rarotonga is home to some of the best and most diverse diving in the Pacific — there are about 40 dive sites around the island and, of these, there are some that are consistently better than the rest. We only dive the very BEST sites around Rarotonga — the ones we LOVE to dive!

Listed below are a selection of some of these, along with a brief description of each to whet the appetite!

Dive sites

Please note that selection of dive sites are always weather-dependent. The prevailing wind for the majority of the year is south-easterly (Trade winds), which is obviously a controlling factor.

1 Alberto’s 8 m–12 m+: suitable for all divers

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 an enchanting dive site; perfect for spotting stonefish and lionfish, not to mention the moray eels!

2 Edna’s Anchor 12 m–30 m+: suitable for all divers

Coral running alongside a sand area that leads into a sandy drop-off. See the anchor caught between two large coral bommies at 24 m. This is an ideal dive for all levels. Suitably qualified divers can experience the drop-off’s full splendour from a deeper vantage point, while shallower dives give a wide view of its curvature. This is the perfect site to get stuck into exploring and see what you can find.

3 Paradise 12 m–24 m: suitable for all divers

A site rich with fish and a coral landscape that provides a stunning backdrop. This is a site for the explorer, with plenty to see in and around all the swim-throughs and bommies. Keep an eye out for the huge numbers of fish that will come in close to have a good look at you and see if you can spot the local “celebrity fish”, “Monty and Tommy”.

4 Mushroom Forest 16 m–24 m: suitable for OW+ divers

This rich coral area is very similar to “Paradise” but with much more pronounced mushroom-shaped bommies rising all around, making this a divine dive site.

This is a great place to explore, and a favourite with eagle rays in season.

5 Mataora Wreck 12 m–20 m: suitable for all

The Mataora, once a Tongan registered 395 hp cargo vessel, 44.25 m in length and 299 gross tonnes, was purchased on the 11th December 1990 for the massive sum of $1!! She started her last voyage to the seabed a couple of days later and now lies in 18 m just off the reef to the north of the Island. This is a great place to search out those lionfish, even the rarer oscillated variety.

6 Swiss Reef 12 m–20 m: suitable for all divers

Rumoured to have been named after popular visitors to the Island hailing from Switzerland, this is a delightful coral garden with the usual suspects to seek out and coral to explore. A favourite hang out for the elusive Spanish Dancer nudibranch and whitemouth moray.

7 Sand River 14 m–30 m+: suitable for all divers

A “river” of sand sloping progressively downwards to a steep drop-off with coral nooks and crannies either side. A great place for seeing sharks in caves along the drop-off, or a beautifully scenic site to just sit and play with the ever-curious reef fish. Swimming across the river above the sand gives the closest feeling to weightlessness you will get this side of space.

9 Jade Reef 16 m–26 m: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

A recent addition to our favourites list! A stunning coral bommie-laden site with some big overhangs and a sudden, eerie end of coral at 26 m. This somehow must be the preferred choice for white tip reef sharks as they seem to like it here!

10 Matavera Drop-Off 16 m–30 m+: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

The Matavera Drop-Off gives a real sense of how deep the ocean around our small island really is. Mooring in a shallow reef area abundant with fish is a lovely way to begin and end your dive. Within a short swim, you will be able to see the drop-off as the reef falls away underneath you, and maybe see some of the local shark population sleeping on the slopes, unconcerned by your presence.

11 Ngatangiia Drop-Off 18 m–30 m: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

A gorgeous scenic dive with lots of coral bommies creating interesting formations to swim around and explore. As the name suggests, there is also a drop-off, which makes for an interesting diversion!

12 Avana Passage 12 m–20 m: suitable for all divers

Opening up from the pretty Avana lagoon, this site is a broad sandy passage with large coral formations and plenty of marine life. Ending in a steep drop-off, it is great for the more experienced diver too. There are several channels to explore and some deep blue water to gaze into and hope for passing sharks!

14 Avaavaroa Passage 8 m–30 m: suitable for experienced Advanced OW+ divers

Explore the often fast-moving water of the passage with the chance of seeing sharks and turtles hanging in the current.

This dive site is only suitable for experienced divers. The passages of the South can be dangerous and this site has to be treated with caution. We will not take you diving here if the conditions are not suitable.

15 Avaavaroa Drop-Off 18 m–30 m+: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

A stunning drop-off at the end of Avaavaroa passage. A humbling site that highlights the true depth and breadth of the ocean. A swim out from the reef over a very steep wall gives the impression of a bottomless abyss below. The larger pelagics can often be seen in the distance, and whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays are common in this area.

16 Papua Passage 8 m–22 m: suitable for all divers

Explore around a natural opening in the reef with a chance at seeing eagle rays swim over the sand below.

17 Rutaki Passage 10 m–20 m: experienced divers only to enter the passage, otherwise suitable for all divers

This is another stunning passage with steep walls and bowls to explore. Again, you may need some stamina to get into the passage but the views are worth it!

Parts of this dive site are only suitable for experienced divers. The passages of the South can be dangerous in certain conditions. We will assess the dive site on any particular day to ensure you enjoy a comfortable dive.

18 Rutaki Drop-Off 18 m–30 m+: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

Follow Rutaki Passage down to an awesome drop-off where a school of Barracuda can often be seen hanging in the deep blue. You really feel small when you look down to what looks like the ends of the earth! Trevally, several types of tuna, and other hunters often gather at this site.

19 Rarotongan 18 m–26 m: suitable for experienced Advanced OW+ divers

The south-west point off The Rarotongan Resort often has currents from two sides of the island. A nice reef dive for the fitter diver! This can be an exciting dive with a chance to see some of the bigger pelagic fish and sharks hunting, including the occasional oceanic whitetip!

20 The Pinnacle 18 m–30 m: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

The west coast has a lot less coral than the pretty gardens of the north of the Island, but still makes for interesting diving. This site boasts a huge coral bommie feature situated on the drop-off, between about 22 and 30 m. It is a good place for scorpionfish, stonefish, lionfish … basically, anything that can sting you!!

26 The Caves 8 m–16 m: suitable for all divers

A shallow, curving coral shelf 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 also houses a wide variety of reef life, the exploration of which is the perfect way to complete your safety stop.

27 Maritime Reefer 24 m–30 m: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

The Maritime Reefer was a large fishing vessel sunk by Dive Rarotonga in 1981. Subsequent cyclones have since broken up the wreck into two main sections and left it in 26 m 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.

29 Croc Caverns 8 m–12 m: experienced divers only ie 50+ dives

Another cave/cavern system but this is a bigger one! Entrance through a well-hidden fissure in the reef followed by a chain of interspersed large caverns that affords the diver the likes of lionfish, moray eels, Spanish Dancers and even sometimes a resident white tip sleeping in a dark corner of the ending cavern.

31 Runway Cave 8 m–18 m: suitable for all divers

An interesting cavern when the conditions are right. A favourite with Spanish Dancers and other pretty-coloured nudibranches. Elegant spotted eaglerays can sometimes be seen schooling around this area.

32 Bone Yard 14 m–20 m: suitable for all divers

No, you will not find any skulls and cross bones! This is a hauntingly beautiful coral garden and a good alternative to “Paradise” when it is a bit windy out in the North! Plenty of reef fish, turtles, the odd whitetip reef shark and Napoleon wrasse on a good day.

33 Bernie’s Reef 18 m–30 m: suitable for Advanced OW+ divers

A slightly deeper dive of coral bommies and diverse marine life. There is a drop-off at 30 m, which is great to swim out over and see what lurks below! This is the place to explore the depths and see what treasures you can find!