The Best Sunscreen for Snorkelling in Rarotonga
Experience Turtles and Clear Blue Water with Snorkel Cook IslandsLike all great businesses, Josh and his mate started Snorkel Cook Islands out of the back of a van with just a few sets of gear. They now run very well organised, daily trips out of their base on the South side of Rarotonga, providing great gear (masks, snorkel, fins and booties) and even serve up freshly opened drinking coconuts afterwards.
When I read about the dangerous currents caused by the deep passages from the lagoon leading out into the deep ocean and drownings, I knew I would feel much more comfortable experiencing Raro’s best snorkelling spot with an experienced guide. Although the deep passages can have dangerous currents, they are also the spots with the best wildlife as the freshwater coming down from the mountains brings nutrients that attracts the wildlife for a feed. The passage is up to 25m deep which can come as quite a suprise as most of the lagoons on the island are only around 1m deep.
Josh guided us on our snorkel trip recently so I took the opportunity to ask him a few things about his work and experience in the industry.
I certainly had a huge smile on my face after we saw green and hawksbill turtles, huge moray eel and spotted eagle rays. More importantly, I felt super safe in the water and everyone was respectful of the moana and the wildlife. As a passionate conservationist, I hate seeing people going out onto the reef, stomping on the delicate corals and getting themselves and the local wildlife into trouble. Josh and the crew gave a great briefing before we entered the water, showing us safe entry and exit points as well as having a safety/break zone where you could take a rest or get help if needed while in the water.
I asked Josh a bit about what sustainable tourism means to him and his business.
“Part of it is giving back, we are looking to start planting corals out next year. Instead of just coming here and taking from the island (using the roads, infrustruction etc) you can come and plant your piece of coral with us, feel like you are giving back and be a part of the new age of sustainable tourism”.A huge proportion of Rarotonga’s coral reefs are still regenerating having been severely damaged in the 2015 cyclone. Coral reefs form a natural barrier, protecting the island from erosion during storms. It’s normal for coral to break and regrow however pressures such as over fishing, damage from people walking on the corals, anchors from boats, warming sea temperatures and ocean pollution are all stressing the corals out and threatening their ability to regrow.
I took a dive on Rarotonga’s northern coast to check these regenerating coral gardens out – here’s what they look like...
For the best visibility (up to 60m!) Josh recommends snorkelling between June – August however this is when the island is at it’s busiest so I personally loved visiting in November when there are fewer people around and less pressure on Rarotonga’s infrustructure and local peoples.
Mei taki ma’ata (thanks) to Josh and the crew for sharing their love and knowledge of the moana with us. Be sure to book a trip with Snorkel Cook Islands.
Best sunscreen for snorkellingThe best sunscreen for snorkelling is....well, no sunscreen. If you can avoid putting sunscreen in areas rich in wildlife and where there are lots of people swimming and snorkelling then that is always going to be the best option. Of course, that’s not really possible as even with a long sleeved rash top, you are still going to have exposed areas of skin that need protecting with sunscreen. However some sunscreens are definitely better for the ocean and snorkelling and here’s why:
- Seasick sunscreen contains zero water and is oil-based meaning it is very water resistant. Chemical sunscreens tend to wash off, leaving an oily film on the surface of the water. In areas where there are lots of swimmers these chemicals can be toxic to marine life.
- A small amount of Seasick Sunscreen goes a very long way. I probably applied 1 teaspoon (if that) to my whole body before my snorkelling trip. I watched other snorkellers literally pouring chemical sunscreen all over their bodies right before entering the water. Most of this would have washed straight off their bodies instead of actually protecting their skin
- Our sunscreen is plastic-free and the tin is infinitely recyclable meaning no plastic going to landfill or worse, ending up in the ocean (which is often the case with unintentional rubbish spills).