Scuba Destinations


Cook Islands

Black pearls, the rarest in the world . . . . .

The Cook Islands are fifteen small islands in this South Pacific Ocean.  They fall into two distinct  groups: the Southern Group is the most popular with 90% of the population. Six of the nine islands are accessible by regular air services. The more remote Northern Group has six islands, three of which – Manihiki, Penrhyn and Pukapuka are accessible by air.

The scuba diving opportunities here are diverse with crystal clear waters having seldom less than 100 metre visibility, and water temperatures between 23 and 30C. All diving is shore based from boats and most dive sites are a mere ten minutes from the departure point.

There are canyons, caves, and varieties of coral - including plate, shelving, mushrooms and brain, big drop-offs and a multitude of colourful tropical fish. 

Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the best islands for diving, as this is where dive centres are mainly based.

Pearls are a speciality of the Cook Islands. The northern group islands of Manihiki and Penrhyn are important producers of black pearls, which are among the rarest pearls in the world, but pearls in other colours are also produced in and sold on Rarotonga, at much better prices than you will find anywhere else in the world.

What to see:
  • July to October is a good time to visit as there is the possibility of seeing humpback whales
  • the Matavera Drop-off
  • the Ngatangiia Swimthroughs (particularly well-known for its unusual and rare fish species)
  • Koromiri Coral Garden
  • Mataora Wreck (purposely sunk in December 1990)
  • Papua Canyon (known for its eagle ray population)
  • Sand River

Need to know:
  • Recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B (infants and children), typhoid and rabies.
  • Locals consider the tap water safe, but boiled or bottled water is advised for visitors, particularly in rural areas.
  • Medical facilities in the Cook Islands in general are limited and a comprehensive medical insurance is advised to include air evacuation for emergencies.
Useful stuff:
Language: Cook Island Maori but English widely spoken
Currency: New Zealand $
Time: GMT -10
Climate: Equable
Diving season: Year round
Water temperature: 23°C (73°F) in winter
30°C (86°F) in summer
Air temperature: April to November (20-26°C)
December to March (22-28°C)

South Pacific - Cook Islands: Latest User Reviews

Disappointed  Pacific Divers, Cook Islands 1 Star Rating Added: 17th May 2014 by dive_champ
I was really disappointed with my experience with Pacific Divers. First off, let me preface this with some background on myself. I'm a very experienced diver that has previously worked in the dive industry. My needs from a dive shop are minimal, get me a tank, take me to a...
Professional and Caring  The Dive Centre, Aroa Beach and Marine Reserve, Cook Islands 5 Star Rating Added: 9th November 2009 by Conor
We booked our 15 year old son on a 3 day scuba course with the Big Fish. At all times they gave us all the information we needed, and we felt comfortable leaving him in their care. They demonstrated a commitment to safety, and also to giving everyone the best...
Dive with Cook Island Divers!  Cook Island Divers Ltd, Cook Islands 5 Star Rating Added: 30th September 2009 by stfagos
When we went to the Cook Islands, one thing we desperately wanted to do was experience the beautiful wonders of the lagoon. The best way to do this was to scuba dive, which gets you right in their, and is also an amazingly unique experience in itself. Choosing to dive with...
Young crowd  Pacific Divers, Cook Islands 2 Star Rating Added: 4th June 2009 by uwguy
I went diving with this shop recently and had a couple of average dives, nothing special. The centre is run by youngsters obviously for a younger crowd. The lad that took us out must have been no older than 17. He was pretty confident for that age, but it’s not...
Fantastic experience......  Pacific Divers, Cook Islands 5 Star Rating Added: 19th May 2009 by TriJo
While in Rarotonga I planned on doing a couple of dives but after my morning out with Pacific Divers I decided that wasn't enough! I had such an enjoyable experience and made to feel really comfortable and relaxed that eventhough I am a beginner diver I went out and did a...
Excellent service  Dive Rarotonga, Cook Islands 5 Star Rating Added: 18th March 2009 by steveshaw
We had an awesome time with Dive Rarotonga. After not diving for two years, my wife was petrified about getting back in the water. One of the guys at Dive Rarotonga took her into their pool for a refresher and really put her at ease. Fun and professional. We then...
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