If you’re looking for somewhere to see turtles in Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, then you’re in the right place.
Nothing can beat that amazing feeling of seeing a turtle up close and personal in their natural habitat! Why not try it for yourself.
This post will tell you all of the best places to see turtles in Rarotonga including all of the exact locations and some of the best Rarotonga turtle tours.
Can You See Turtles in Rarotonga?
Yes, you can see turtles in Rarotonga.
In fact, Rarotonga is one of the best places to see turtles in the world as the sea turtle population is flourishing.
The sheltered reef which surrounds Rarotonga makes it a great place to go snorkeling.
This reef, which features crystal clear waters, is home to a variety of marine life including turtles, eels and rays.
There are two main types of turtles commonly found in the Cook Islands. These are the Green Turtles and the Hawksbill Turtles. Both of these species are endangered.
For the best chance of seeing turtles in Rarotonga, I’d recommend booking this Cook Islands turtle tour.
This Rarotonga turtle tour takes you to places where you are guaranteed to see turtles. That’s awesome, right?
This tour makes snorkeling with turtles in Rarotonga so easy. They provide all the snorkeling equipment and even take underwater photos of you with the turtles at no additional cost.
You’ll also be joined by a certified lifeguard for peace of mind.
Best Cook Islands Turtle Tours in Rarotonga
I’d strongly recommend booking a turtle tour if you want to snorkel with turtles in Rarotonga.
This is important because the turtles tend to hang out within the lagoon which surrounds the island.
Conditions can change quickly in the lagoon and could become dangerous so it’s important you only head out there with trained staff who know what to do in these situations.
I’ve done all the hard work for you and listed my favorite swim with turtles tours in Rarotonga with a range of options for every type of traveler.
- Snorkel With Turtles Tour (most affordable)
This snorkel tour includes a swim with turtles experience, on-site lifeguards and photos of you with the turtles.
- Turtle Sea Scooter Safari (for something a bit different)
This sea scooter tour includes the use of a sea scooter which allows you to whizz through the water much faster than by swimming.
- Private Snorkel With Turtles Tour (just for you and your group)
This private turtle tour in Rarotonga includes a 3 hour guided snorkel with turtles experience just for you and your group. It also includes photos of you with the turtles and refreshments.
I personally recommend all these tours as they are delivered by reputable companies with fully trained staff.
I’d also recommend booking online in advance as the tours often sell out and you also tend to get a better rate online.
Check out what you can expect when swimming with turtles in Rarotonga in the video below:
Where Can You Swim With Turtles in Rarotonga?
You can swim with turtles in Rarotonga and there are many places across the island where the turtles love to hang out.
Rarotonga, which happens to be the largest of the Cook Islands, is one of the best places to see turtles out in the wild.
Below I’ve summarized the best spots and locations in Rarotonga where you can swim with turtles.
Keep reading for some handy swim with turtles tips later in the post to ensure you have the best experience possible.
1. Aroa Beach
One of the best places to see turtles in Rarotonga is at Aroa Beach which is located on the south side of the island.
This tropical white sandy beach is mesmerizing! It’s truly beautiful and the best bit is that there is a healthy coral reef making it ideal for snorkeling.
Aroa Beach is actually one of the best places for snorkeling in Rarotonga. You’ll be able to swim with a variety of marine life including turtles, giant clams, starfish and a range of colorful fish.
You’ll be able to swim with the turtles in their natural environment, watching them come up for air and gliding along in the water.
2. Koromiri Motu
Another place where you can see turtles in Rarotonga is at the Koromiri Motu which is a small islet that lies just off the coast of Muri Beach in southwestern Rarotonga.
You can easily see this islet from the shores of Muri Beach and it is easily accessible by kayak or paddleboard.
The sheltered lagoon at Koromiri Motu is home to a variety of marine life. Swimming around the live coral, you’ll find tropical fish, turtles and more.
It’s one of the best spots in the whole of the Cook Islands.
3. Tikioki Beach
Another great place where you can snorkel with turtles in Rarotonga is at Tikioki Beach which is located on the southeastern corner of the island in Titikaveka.
The best snorkeling spot on Tikioki Beach is the area directly in front of the Fruits of Rarotonga cafe (you can rent snorkeling gear from the cafe too).
You don’t have to go far into the water here to start seeing marine life. At waist deep, you’ll already be able to spot butterflyfish, angelfish, zebrafish and more.
If you swim a little bit further out, you may be able to find turtles, blue starfish, moray eels and more.
💡Tip: Bring a waterproof camera like the GoPro Hero 10 to get some photos and videos of you with the turtles.
4. Rutaki Passage
Another place where you can swim with turtles is in the Rutaki Passage which is located on the south side of the island.
Rutaki Passage is actually the deepest passage on Rarotonga and features narrow canyon walls.
This site is only suitable for divers and it’s not recommended that you go snorkeling in this passage.
If you do go diving here, you’ll likely see turtles, whitetip reef sharks, moray eels and eagle rays.
Large schools of fish can also frequently be found at the entrance of the passage.
5. Black Rock Beach
Another great spot where you can swim with turtles in Rarotonga is at Black Rock Beach which is located on the northwestern point of the island near the airport.
This beach is characterized by colossal black volcanic rock formations that contrast with the turquoise ocean.
Black Rock Beach is very culturally significant to the people of Rarotonga. The locals believe that this is where spirits depart the island.
It’s also a great place for snorkeling.
Tips For Swimming With Turtles
First time swimming with turtles?
To ensure the turtles remain safe, there’s a few key things to bear in mind when swimming with them in Rarotonga.
Remember that all of the different turtle species are endangered so it’s important that we do all we can to help their chances.
- Don’t be too loud. Try to be as quiet as possible when swimming up to a turtle as loud noises will scare them away.
- Do not touch the turtle. Turtles are wild animals and should be respected.
- Do not get too close. This might scare the turtle and they could bite you if they get really scared (don’t worry this is super rare!).
- Do not feed the turtles. They don’t need help finding food.
- Always approach a turtle from the side. This gives them a clear view of you and a clear path ahead of them if they want to swim onwards.
- Don’t disrupt the turtle’s natural behavior. You can enjoy the turtles by watching them do their thing but try not to disturb them.
These key tips protect both you and the turtles.
Best Time Of Year To See Turtles In Rarotonga
You can see turtles in Rarotonga year round.
There is a resident population of turtles that can commonly be spotted at several points across the island and for this reason you can see them at any time of year.
Early morning is the best time of day to spot turtles in Rarotonga.
You can see them at any time of day but early morning will give you the highest chance as they are most active at this time.
Fun Sea Turtle Facts
To get you prepared for your trip to Rarotonga where you’ll hopefully see some beautiful sea turtles, here’s some fun turtle facts.
- The correct word for a baby turtle is a ‘hatchling’.
- A typical green sea turtle will be 3 to 4 feet long and weighs between 300 and 250 pounds.
- Sea turtles tend to build their nests for their eggs in the same location that they were born.
- Mother turtles lay up to 100 eggs in each nest.
- It is estimated that only 1 out of 1,000 hatchlings survives to be an adult so they need all the help they can get.
- In their lifetime, female turtles lay thousands of eggs so at least a few will survive.
- The green sea turtles mostly eat seagrass, seaweed and algae.
- Sea turtles have been on Earth for more than 100 million years, even outliving the dinosaurs who became extinct 65 million years ago.
- All species of sea turtles are either threatened or endangered.
- Sea turtles never get to meet their babies as after laying their eggs, the mothers return to the ocean.
- Male sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea.
- The gender of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature of the nest – warmer temperatures tend to lead to females whereas cooler temperatures tend to lead to males.
Thanks for reading this post on where to see turtles in Rarotonga.
Nothing beats seeing these glorious turtles in their natural habitat.
Rarotonga is actually one of the best places in the whole world to see turtles due to its largely untouched landscape and flourishing turtle population.
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