Swimming with turtles is a truly magical experience!
Turtles can be found in the Aroa Lagoonarium, from time to time, particularly in the area about a hundred metres directly in front of the Te Vaka Restaurant Deck and Sanctuary Rarotonga - on the beach.
It is some times easier to find them while paddle boarding as you have a clearer view from above the surface. However, snorkeling allows you to get closer to them.
The first thing to do if you see a turtle is to STOP!
This will allow the turtle to determine if it is open to human company or not. If they are scared they will disappear in a flash so do not try to pursue them as they can swim infinitely faster than you can.
If the turtle hangs around, only move very slowly keeping at least 2 metres distance.
If the turtle feels safe, you may be able to swim alongside it for 15 minutes or more.
There are three types of turtles in the Cook Islands; green back, hawksbill and logger head. There are perhaps a hundred or so green back and hawksbill turtles living in the waters around Rarotonga but the logger head turtle is very rare.
Turtles do not live permanently in the Aroa Lagoonarium at this time but it is hoped that as the Lagoonarium continues to recover that it will be able to once again sustain a permanent population of turtles.
There are a number of turtle tours available on the island that take visitors to locations where there are permanent populations of turtles. However, all these locations are potentially dangerous, so it is highly advisable to only go with an experienced tour guide.
Charlotte Piho is a world famous underwater photographer who specializes in photography with the turtles https://charlottepiho.com/
Josh Utanga is an internationally certified life saver and offers small personalized tours. Contact Josh on 71-644 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/snorkelcookislands/
Ariki Adventures offers sea scooters making swimming with the turtles accessible to a wide range of visitors https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=614850958887170
Here are some links to more information about turtles in the Cook Islands:
Swimming with the turtles in Rarotonga is a once in a life time experience.