The whales visit between July and October each year as they migrate six thousand kilometers from Antarctica to the warmer waters of the South Pacific to mate and give birth to their calves.
While the Humpback Whale is our most frequent visitor, there are over 15 species that have been recorded in the 2 million square kilometer Cook Islands Whale Sanctuary including the sperm, short finned pilot, Culver’s beaked and Blainville’s beaked whales.
As the ocean just off the island is over five kilometers deep, the whales can be seen just over the reef, breaching, sometimes clear out of the water, as well as slapping their tails on the surface. It becomes even more magical when a mother breaches followed shortly thereafter by her baby!
They tend to only stay in one location for a few minutes, but you can follow them around the island, on the bus, scooter, or rental car, with your camera at the ready!
The presence of the whales creates great excitement on the island, so if you see a small crowd of locals facing out to the ocean, they are probably watching the whales.
There are also whale watching tours during the season and, from time to time, divers and big game fishing charters will see these majestic giant mammals from a vantage point in the ocean.
Please respect them and stay at least 300 meters away from them in a boat or 100 meters away from them if you are in a kayak or in the water diving or snorkeling unless they approach you first.
The whales have an honored position in Cook Islands cultural and spiritual life, so we wish you good luck in experiencing their magic during your time with us. For many guests, it is a highlight of their visit!