I’ve dived a fair few places in the world, and on this trip, I’ve dived Koh Tao, in Thailand, and the Great Barrier Reef. I think I’d have to rank Rarotonga as up there with the best places I’ve dived in the world, and a far, far better experience than what I discovered in Thailand or Australia.
I had booked a dive trip with Pacific Divers previous day, and you may remember that I had met Karsten that same day at the Mooring Fish Cafe, and by chance we were both booked in to dive together. I was picked up by Kelsey in the morning by bus and taken to the dive shop to get my equipment fitted. Refreshingly, there weren’t any waiver forms to fill in.
Shortly after my arrival, Karsten showed up and we both had a quick briefing on the day’s diving. I had heard that the best diving was in the caves to the south, but we wouldn’t be diving these, instead we’d dive a site called Edna’s Anchor in the waters north of Avarua (near where I’d visited the market a couple of days previously). Karsten and I suited up in the car park and hopped onto our boat for the day.
We didn’t sail out for long before it was time to go through the briefing again and hit the water. The boat was small, so we rolled backwards into the sea and descended into the blue.
The water was crystal clear, and we finned out to sea away from Rarotonga, heading to about 30 meters down. It was there we saw a reef shark having a nap with a remora, and approached it. We got as close as 3 meters before it swam away and settled a few meters further away from us. Clearly, the shark wasn’t bothered by us, but perhaps our heartbeats disturbed his sleep.
We headed deeper and onwards to Edna’s anchor. The anchor used to belong to a schooner called Edna, which later sank off Atiu, another island of the Cook Islands famed for its coffee. Edna lost her anchor between two bombora, and the swim between them was like something out of National Geographic.
I should say here that one of my biggest regrets was not bringing an underwater camera. Throughout my travels, I had grabbed underwater photos from other people, but on this occasion, none of us had cameras.
We took a short break after the dive and warmed up in the sunshine with some milo before diving on our next site, the wreck of the Mataora. This ship was deliberately sunk to make an artificial reef, but tropical storms had broken it up a lot and pushed it towards the island. We had a look around the remains of the wreck, and headed towards a very narrow tunnel in the reef. Our guide swan through first, swimming in, then vertically upwards. I must admit I was a little nervous about the small space, but went through inelegantly and intact.
Back on the boat, I had a lovely view of the whole of Rarotonga, as we sailed back to Avarua Harbour. Once we had loaded everything onto the minibus, we set off back to the dive shop to debrief and fill out our dive logs. I was helped by Mikey, the diving centre’s cat.