Sunday, February 20

Snorkelling at Tikioki beach, Rarotonga

Opposite Fruits of Rarotonga on the south side of the island lies Tikioki beach.
This is reputed to be one of the best snorkelling beaches on Rarotonga. The lagoon is wide at this spot but remains shallow for some distance out from the shore and there are outcrops of coral starting close to the beach so it’s a safe area for all ages (although people should never snorkel without someone to keep an eye on them).
The lagoon has plenty of fish of all sizes, shapes and colours and there are some colourful spots of live coral although most of the large outcrops are dead. This doesn’t worry the fish who find plenty to feed on.
It could be that this is standard for lagoons – the sea-side of the reefs surrounding them are where all the spectacular live coral is found and the bits in the lagoon are sort of extra. Doe anybody out there know?
The first time I tried snorkelling was in Hikkaduwa, a small town south of Colombo in Sri Lanka. I can remember channels lined with many different types of live, colourful coral - I don’t think it was in a lagoon - but this was over 30 years ago and time does strange things to your memory. I also snorkelled once in Fiji – very shallow lagoon, strands of seaweed on the bottom and lots of fish but I can’t remember much in the way of coral. Then at Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii; the bay was quite spectacular on the surface but underwater everything was covered with a grey-brown sludge. It clearly showed the effects of pollution on marine life, but in fairness this problem is being tackled and people in charge of the bay are trying to educate the public and reverse the damage. Well, they’ve got an enormous job but at least they’re doing something positive.
It’s easy to understand why snorkelling and scuba diving are popular pastimes in the Cook Islands and elsewhere. It’s really very relaxing to drift along and watch the fishes and there’s enough room in our lagoons that you don’t have to worry about running into other drifters.