Deep diving Rarotonga’s beautiful Peppermint Reef

Peppermint angelfish on deep coral reef

Exploring a Cook Islands‘ subsea treasure

Healthy deep plate coral reef in Rarotonga

Rarotonga offers fantastic deep diving all around the island. Just a little out of reach for recreational divers is Rarotonga’s Peppermint Reef. The dive site consists of a vast stretch of very dense plate corals on the northern reef slope, covering the sea floor at a depth between 45 and 60 metres. We found this subsea treasure a few years back when exploring Rarotonga’s deeper reef areas and drop-off’s.

Incredibly healthy and dense coral cover

Healthy deep plate coral reef in Rarotonga

The coral density at the Peppermint Reef is incredible. Healthy, stunning plate corals cover the bottom over a very long distance. We are still to explore how far the area stretches. The reef with it’s coral cover is similar to the plate coral reef off Tahiti that made it into the world media in January 2022. The dense plate corals are also home to many other photogenic fish species, like angelfish and anthias.

Like peppermint candy

Peppermint angelfish centropyge boylei in Rarotonga

The rose shaped plate corals have a minty colour when seen at depth without torch. However, the reason we chose the name Peppermint Reef for this site is not because of the coral. The dense plate corals are home to many of the elusive peppermint angelfish. These small infamous angelfish are striking red with vertical white stripes, like a peppermint candy, hence the common name peppermint angelfish.

Super rare peppermint angelfish

Rare peppermint angelfish

The peppermint angelfish fish was originally discovered by Chip (Charles) Boyle in Rarotonga and is named after him: Centropyge boylei. Peppermint angelfish fish are extremely rare. In fact, there are only very few places in the world where these stunning little fish can be found. Furthermore, peppermint angelfish fish live usually much deeper than 50 metres.

Beyond recreational diving limits

Tec Diver on deep coral reef

These dives are for divers with training and experience beyond recreational diving limits, using either open circuit scuba or closed circuit rebreathers. As a rebreather friendly dive centre, Adventure Cook Islands also caters for rebreather divers.

Are you trained in deep diving, interested in beautiful, unspoiled reefs and rare fish? If the answer is yes, then Rarotonga is a great dive destination with many hidden treasures that won’t disappoint you.

If you need training, no problem – our technical open circuit and closed circuit rebreather courses through TDI and SSI will get you there.

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