Rarotonga snorkelling is like swimming in a crystal clear tepid aquarium. Large and small, the colourful tropical fish glide in and out of coral beds, and sometimes appear to pose for our underwater compact camera.
Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, is a tropical paradise surrounded by a reef that creates protected beaches. As a result, fabulous snorkelling options abound. Once in the water, I was glad to have an underwater compact camera that was simple to use and could help me to preserve the memories.
This page is divided into two main sections, first Rarotonga snorkelling, then our underwater compact camera selection.
- Snorkelling Rarotonga photos shot on an underwater compact camera
- Where is Rarotonga?
- Best places for snorkelling on Rarotonga
- Titikaveka Beach
- Muri Lagoon
- Black Rock Rarotonga
- Public beach near the Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa
- The Rarotongan Beach Resort is where to stay for great snorkelling
- Snorkelling Tours on Rarotonga
- Why I chose the Olympus Tough TG5 camera as my compact underwater camera
- Best underwater compact camera
- More on snorkelling in Rarotonga
- Travel planning tips
- Which underwater compact camera will you choose? Will you be snorkelling in Rarotonga?
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Snorkelling Rarotonga photos shot on an underwater compact camera
At first, I was leary of a camera small enough to fit in my pocket. Could it really take quality underwater photos? You be the judge.
Where is Rarotonga?
One of the great things about being on a small island (32 kilometres around) with a huge volcanic hill in the centre, is that if the Rarotonga weather isn’t ideal where you are, you can easily go to the other side. The mountainous interior blocks the wind.
Best places for snorkelling on Rarotonga
Here are what we were told are the best places to snorkel in Rarotonga:
The public Titikaveka Beach is across the road from Fruits of Rarotonga offering easy walk-in access and nearby coral reefs. Over the coral, the colourful tropical fish are everywhere. Whether it’s your first time snorkelling, or you have been doing it forever, Titikaveka Beach will impress you. Parking is easy, or take the bus.
This was the first time we tried our new underwater compact camera, an Olympus Tough TG-5 (since upgraded to TG-6), in the ocean, and as you can see it was a success. The ease of use, the richness of colours captured, and the RAW image output option let us create photographs that one would expect only from a huge and clunky underwater camera.
A safe protected (by four offshore islets) swimming area with easy entry from white sandy beaches. Muri Beach Rarotonga (including Muri Lagoon) is another great spot for snorkelling. Unfortunately, the wind was strong and coming from the wrong direction the week we visited, so we never had a chance to snorkel here.
Black Rock Rarotonga
The huge black rocks form a windbreak, creating a perfect place for us to snorkel. Our fish shots were similar to the ones above, but using the underwater closeup setting I was able to get this shot:
Public beach near the Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa
There is a fabulous snorkelling beach just west of the Rarotongan Resort Beach Resort and Spa.
The Rarotongan Beach Resort is where to stay for great snorkelling
There is easy beach access, wonderful snorkelling, and white sandy beaches at this family-friendly resort that also offers the Sanctuary, an adults-only option. As we were not staying here, we snorkelled on the nearby public beach. After we snorkelled, we headed to the Rarotongan for lunch and to feed the fish off the pier.
Check availability at Rarotongan Beach Resort
Honestly, this is an island aimed at tourism. Rarotonga accommodations are as varied as in a major city anywhere in the world. They range from secluded to popular, from hostel to luxury, and from family-friendly to adults only. There is something for everyone.
Find the best Rarotonga accommodation prices at booking.comor check out Airbnb.
Snorkelling Tours on Rarotonga
We chose to snorkel on our own, but there are several guided Rarotonga snorkelling options:
|Lagoon Explorer||Paddleboard and snorkelling tour with a guide|
Muri Lagoon area
|Muri Lagoon BBQ Lunch Cruise including Snorkeling||Glass bottom boat cruise with time to snorkel|
Starts in Avarua and goes to Muri
Hotel pick up and drop off
|AVA Sea Scooter Snorkel||Guided snorkel tour|
Use sea scooter underwater propulsion
Muri Beach area
|Rarotonga Glass Bottom Lagoon Cruise||Glass bottom boat tour in Muri Lagoon|
Snorkel at the Tikioki marine site
Hotel pick up and drop off
Why I chose the Olympus Tough TG5 camera as my compact underwater camera
Our new Olympus Tough TG-5 is a compact point and shoot designed for adventure. Olympus made it waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and dustproof. It’s a tough little camera perfect for any sport.
As a photographer, I was leary of a compact camera, but this one offers the option of high-resolution RAW stills or HD 4k video. The RAW output allows me to edit, where needed to recapture the colours that are sometimes lost from underwater surface shooting.
Best underwater compact camera
We had our TG5 for about a month when we went to Rarotonga, but were really pleased with the results both underwater and on land. Of course, this isn’t the only underwater compact camera that would keep me happy. Here are the options we considered.
More on snorkelling in Rarotonga
- The buses on Rarotonga (clockwise and anti-clockwise) stop at most of the major beaches.
- Check with your resort before packing for your trip. Many resort packages include a mask, fins, snorkel and beach towels with your room.
- Remember to use sunscreen, even on a cloudy day.
- Go to the water’s edge before you put on your flippers. It’s easier and you look less like a duck waddling across the beach.
- If your mask is fogging up, take it off, spit into it, rub the saliva around, and give it a quick rinse in the sea. (I know it sounds gross, but it works).
- Don’t touch the coral or the fish.
- Most of the coastal waters are protected. Do not take anything from them (in most areas, it would be illegal to take anything).
- Bring a camera into the water.
- Snorkelling is one of many things to do on the island of Rarotonga.
Travel planning tips
Flights: We use Skyscanner to find all the available flight options at the best prices.
Accommodations: We use Booking.com to find all levels of accommodations when we travel, although on Rarotonga, we also like Airbnb.
Travel Insurance: Keep in mind that major medical emergencies on Rarotonga sometimes require evacuation to New Zealand. For ourselves, we carry insurance that covers medical and travel emergencies. We start with World Nomads.
Packing Tips: Get a free copy of our packing light check list when you sign up for our mailing list. (We pack light, yet have everything we need.)
**Find more money saving resources on our Travel Resources page.
First-time visitors to the Cook Isalnds: click here for our Rarotonga travel guide
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Which underwater compact camera will you choose? Will you be snorkelling in Rarotonga?
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Disclaimer: We worked with the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation. We were provided with complimentary entrances, tours and sample items to assist in the writing of this review. The opinions expressed here are strictly our own.