What You Need to Know About Spearfishing in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Crisp clean water, large pelagics and getting to spend some time at some remote Pacific Islands is just what any keen spearer wants, right?! The Cook Islands can certainly provide with most of the highly-sought game fish available all year round in the waters of Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Whether you’re a beginner or have been freediving all your life, there are options for spearfishing to suit all levels in the Cook Islands. Find out more in this complete guide to spearfishing in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands!
5 Reasons to Spearfish in the Cook Islands
- It’s possible to catch a wide range of South Pacific game fish, such as yellowfin tuna, marlin, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna and much more!
- The water is warm, with water temperatures not venturing too far from the 24°C (75.2°F) mark year-round
- The water clarity in the Cook Islands is spot-on, with visibility rarely falling below 30m (100ft)
- There are spearfishing charters that are well geared up for an epic day on the water, so if you don’t have all of your own gear with you, charters will still be able to sort you out
- There’s an opportunity to learn to spearfish within the lagoons of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
What Fish Can You Spear in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands’ tropical blue water and reefs provide the perfect environment for those fish species you’ve always dreamed of catching: yellowfin tuna, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna… You can tick a wide range of game fish off the bucket list on a spearfishing trip in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, including:
- Yellowfin Tuna
- Blue Marlin
- Giant Trevally
- Dogtooth Tuna
- Pacific Barracuda
- Red Snapper
… And a ton of other reef fish in the mix! Note that it is not advised to eat fish caught within the lagoon, i.e. reef fish due to ciguatera poisoning being present in the Cook Islands – learn more in our Cook Islands Safety Tips. Eating bluewater fish is safe. Learn more about the fish species of the Cook Islands in our guide, The Types of Fish in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
The Best Time for Spearfishing in the Cook Islands
With consistently warm air and sea temperatures combined with the fact that most game fish species can be found in the Cook Islands’ waters all year round, there’s never really a bad time for spearfishing in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Nevertheless, if you’re aiming for one species in particular, then there are times when certain fish species are more prolific than others.
Here’s a quick list of the popular fish species for spearfishing in the Cook Islands and when are the best months to target them:
- Yellowfin Tuna – October to May
- Wahoo – May to September
- Mahimahi – September to March
- Blue Marlin – November to April
- Giant Trevally – October to April
- Dogtooth Tuna– October to February
- Pacific Barracuda – April to June
- Red Snapper – All year
- Parrotfish – All year
For more information on the fish season, check out The Best Time of Year for Fishing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Where to Do Spearfishing in the Cook Islands
As spearfishing is such a specialised type of fishing, there are only a select few charters who offer it as an activity. However, there are two particular islands you should set your sights on for spearfishing in the Cook Islands: Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Spearfishing in Rarotonga
Most spearfishing in Rarotonga happens outside of the lagoon. Fishing charters and adventure tour operators will take you outside of the reef to the FADs for an adventurous excursion of bluewater spearfishing. Most charters will expect you to have some freediving/spearfishing experience for this deep-sea experience, where you’ll need to provide most of the gear with the exception of weights (more on that in the section below).
Fishing charters that offer bluewater spearfishing include:
- Akura Fishing Charters
- Reelaxing Fishing Charters
- Game Fishing Rarotonga
- Adventure Cook Islands
- Go Local Tours.
For spearfishing within the Rarotonga Lagoon, ideal for those less experienced and/or who don’t have their own gear, Go Local Tours offers flexible spearfishing tours with all of the gear provided. They also do bluewater spearfishing trips.
Learn more about the above charters in the 10 Best Fishing Charters on Rarotonga.
Spearfishing in Aitutaki
Spearfishing is accessible for all levels of freedivers in Aitutaki. We recommend Aitutaki for beginners, as operators provide all the gear, as well as spearfishing within the sheltered and more shallow waters of the lagoon. Experienced spearos will not feel short-changed, however, as guided excursions off the lagoon’s surrounding reef, as well as in the bluewater around the FADs are available. Hit up the following fishing operators for your Aitutaki spearfishing charter:
- Black Pearl Charters
- Wet & Wild.
More details about the above charters are outlined in the 5 Best Fishing Charters on Aitutaki.
What You Need to Bring on a Spearfishing Trip
Spearfishing is physically demanding, therefore, the sport is best suited to those who are physically fit and have good breath-hold. Past spearfishing and/or freediving experience is required by most fishing charters offering services for spearfishing, but those with limited experience still have three fishing operators in the Cook Islands providing gear and more sheltered fishing sites (see Where to Do Spearfishing in the Cook Islands above).
As for equipment, only a select few spearfishing charters in the Cook Islands have the gear, from wetsuits to spearfishing guns, weight belts, snorkel, mask, floats, lines and more. These companies include Go Local Tours, Black Pearl Charters and Wet & Wild. Most fishing charters, particularly the ones that usually take people out trolling, only have weights available. Therefore, they usually ask spearfisher folk to bring their own gear.
Spearfishing Gear for the Cook Islands
If your chosen fishing charter does not provide spearfishing gear, here are the recommended equipment to bring:
- Spearfishing gun – a larger gun with a minimum of three rubbers is recommended
- 35l float
- 75ft bungee
- 75ft hard line
- Weight belt
- 3mm wetsuit or similar
- Snorkel and mask
Other Things to Take on a Spearfishing Trip
In addition to the list above if you are taking a normal fishing charter or items to bring if you’re going on a spearfishing trip with spearfishing gear provided, include:
- Reef-safe sunscreen
- Reef shoes
- Change of clothes
Light refreshments/lunch and bottled water are usually provided with the fishing charters in the Cook Islands.
More About Spearfishing in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
That’s it for our complete guide to spearfishing in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. What else do you need to know? Perhaps you’ll find the following guides useful:
- Fishing in the Cook Islands: The Types of Fish in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- The Best Time of Year for Fishing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- The Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
Finally, discover more awesome experiences in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.