Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary


Marine Environment

When you are at Sanctuary Rarotonga - on the beach (Adults-Only) you are just steps away from the unspoiled waters of Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary, Rarotonga's premier snorkeling location. Sheltered by the natural coral reef, this protected sanctuary is home to a healthy diversity of marine life. Enjoy exploring the reserve at almost any tide in safety - swim, snorkel, stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Boating, jet-skiing, fishing or taking of any marine life are not allowed in the lagoon reserve. Sanctuary Rarotonga - on the beach (Adults-Only), in partnership with the local elders, are guardians of the Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary, which was declared a traditional protected area, or Rau'i, 20 years ago to ensure the bounty and beauty of the tropical marine life was preserved for future generations to also enjoy. We wish you many hours of awe and wonder in this unique environment, one of nature's miracles. 

Marine Life

Prepare to be amazed. Boasting some of the clearest, cleanest turquoise water in the world, Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is home to a rich and diverse array of marine life. Discover sunset wrasses, butterfly fishes, squirrel fish, parrot fish, Moorish idols, Emperor angelfish and many more, all in clear shallow waters sheltered by the natural coral reef from the open ocean. Fishing is not allowed in the Rau'i (traditional marine sanctuary), which means the marine life here is healthy and thriving!

The Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is one of the longest-established marine sanctuaries on Rarotonga. The natural features of the location make it the most successful marine sanctuary on Rarotonga, offering the island's best snorkeling.

Aroa Lagoon is a prolific breeding lagoon, the water being at the perfect depth, not too shallow or warm, not too deep and cold. Aroa Lagoon does not get too shallow for snorkeling at low tide (as do other Rarotonga lagoons). The shoreline is clear of coral (making the lagoon ideal for swimming, kayaking and standup paddleboarding), yet further out there are plenty of coral bommies for the fish to live in, making for ideal snorkeling. There are very few resorts anywhere on Earth where you can just take a few steps off your resort beach and snorkel in a marine wonderland. And because The Rarotongan and adjacent adults-only sister resort Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach sit alone on this stretch of the island's coastline, the water quality here is uncompromised. Enjoy this beautiful miracle!

Snorkeling in Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary

What better way to explore Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary than by snorkeling. Grab some snorkeling gear and a snorkeling map from our Activities Centre. Take a few steps into the lagoon and ... start exploring the underwater wonderland! Amazingly clear visibility, clean warm water and a wide variety of marine life await your discovery.

if you've never snorkeled in a marine sanctuary before, prepare for a real treat. The fish here know they are not under threat from fishermen, so they are less fearful of people. When they see you, they do not dart for cover, as they do in non-protected areas.  

Never been snorkeling? Try our Learn to Snorkel session, taught in the safe confines of our fresh water pool. Later, extend the fun by joining one of our Snorkeling Safaris. Snorkeling is sure to be one of the highlights of your stay at Sanctuary Rarotonga - on the beach (Adults-Only) 

Learn To Snorkel

Do you want to try snorkeling for the first time? It's easy and fun - and you'll be hooked for life! Our  friendly Activities team will happily show you the ins and outs of snorkeling, all in the comfort and security of our fresh water pool. Soon you'll be comfortable snorkeling on your own in the safety of the secluded lagoon. There's no rush or pressure, just go to the depth you're comfortable with, at the pace you're happy with. If you get a bit of water in your mask, just stand up and release it (the lagoon never gets too deep). Easy as. 

No need to worry about boats or jet skis either, as motorized vessels are not allowed in Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve. It's a very peaceful experience, because other than a few swimmers and kayakers or stand-up paddleboarders, the only others with whom you'll share the waters are the friendly reef fishes! The coral reef keeps out large sea creatures such as sharks, so nothing to worry about there either.

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of this magical lagoon, and be sure to look but don't touch. That's what keeps the marine sanctuary and marine life protected for everyone to be able to marvel at. 

Snorkeling Safaris

Do you want to learn more about the marine life in Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary? Try one of our Snorkeling Safaris, where an experienced guide takes you on a snorkel experience highlighting the best, and sometimes secret, spots. Our guides have been snorkeling these waters all their lives, and they know the best spots to see even some of the lagoon's more shy creatures, such as octopus, moray eels or lion fishes. As the waters are warm, calm and protected from the open ocean by the natural coral reef, snorkeling is safe at virtually all tides and most weather conditions. Our Snorkeling Safaris are regular activities, so be sure to check out out Daily Activities Board.

Night Snorkeling Safari

Did you know that there's a 'night shift' in the lagoon? Let us take you on a Night Snorkeling Safari of Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary to see the different set of marine creatures which come out at night. Don your wetsuit and snorkel, grab a torch and head out with your guide for a great Night Snorkeling Safari. Your first step into the dark lagoon may be taken with a bit of apprehension but once the torches are on you'll be surrounded by amazing sea life, as inquisitive about you as you are of them. Some creatures though are fast asleep - like the parrot fishes sleeping on the sea bottom in their jelly-like cocoons!   This is an incredible experience and a holiday highlight for many of our guests. 

Conservation of Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary

Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve has been in the making for millions of years. We are very proud of the cleanliness and amazing visibility found in Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary and are dedicated to maintaining its unique beauty for generations to come. This area is an important fish-breeding lagoon and is recognized throughout the island as a traditional Rau'i - a no-fishing zone. As such, we ask that you respect the lagoon and the taboo on fishing by not soiling it with trash, by not taking any fish or marine life and by not touching sea life and corals whilst snorkeling, swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding. Please take care when standing or walking through the lagoon to stay off coral heads as this damages them. Take only memories, leave only bubbles.

CLICK HERE  to view our snorkeling map.