Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Matavera School Reef
On the north-eastern corner of Rarotonga, Cook Islands, the fringing coral reef comes close to the shore and in fact it is really not a fringing reef as it does not come near the surface. This site is about 12 minutes from Avatui Harbour. The dive site is located a few hundred metres off the shore and is a couple of kilometres north of the prominent point. As you would imagine from the name, the dive site is right off the Matavera School (a small primary school).
You anchor in about 10 metres on a sandy bottom with isolated small bommies. The depth drops to 12 metres and then gradually slopes to 30 metres where there is a severe drop-off to 100 metres or so. At the 30 metres depth, there is an intermittent sort of wall. These are really coral bommies separated by sand, not a normal coral reef wall. There are lots of overhangs, with hiding places for fish. The reef wall winds in and out as it heads south.
|Moorish idol||Threadfin butterflyfish|
The coral here is almost the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. I estimated that there was only about 5% live coral. I also saw no sponges at all and not even a tiny gorgonia (let alone a huge one like seen in many South Pacific Ocean countries). Fishlife was also sparce. We saw two small turtles and two large firefish. There were quite a few surgeonfish and trevally, some different butterflyfish (threadfin, longnose) and a few Moorish idols. That is about it except for heaps of black sea cucumbers.
After 20 to 25 minutes, you turn around and come back a little shallower than the outward trip. Once again, the coral is not very good and the fishlife poor.
The one good thing about this dive was the visibility, in excess of 40 metres. Water temperature in June was 24.0° and air temperature 25°.
For more information about the Cook Islands, especially Rarotonga, see my Cook Islands General Information Page.