Many people choose to spend their time at a Marine Reserve because they admire the nature there. While each Marine Reserve has plenty to offer in terms of birds and other animals, taking the time to venture below the waves can expose you to so much more. As not everyone has a scuba diving license, snorkelling is a fantastic option for marine life fans. Knowing which Marine Reserves are best for snorkelers can help you plan the perfect day out.
As one of the most northern Marine Reserves, Tonga Island benefits from a similar climate to Fiji. It will take a few days for your boat to reach the area, but once it does, you can look forward to a beach-like break with plenty of conservational attractions. Snorkelling is particularly exciting between Tonga Quarry and Foul Point. In fact, those who have visited Tonga Quarry in the past highly recommend getting up early in the morning to head down to the beach there. In reward for your early rise, you will be met with a beautiful sunset. If you wish to camp to make this easier, you can do so at nearby Mosquito Bay. In fact, Mosquito Bay is a great accommodation option for those who do not want to stay on their boat while visiting Tonga Island.
When you visit Mayor Island, you may be surprised to learn that it is actually a collapsed volcano. Fortunately, you are not at risk of any surprise eruptions while there. For snorkelers who love to see reefs but cannot scuba dive, it is the perfect place to visit. Although there are deep reefs on Mayor Island, many of them are shallow too. Even better, there is one green and one black crater lake, giving you the chance to engage in a little freshwater exploration. If you head to Orongatea Bay, you can benefit from observing the beautiful wildlife there, while enjoying the bubbles floating up from nearby hot springs.
Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve
Even the name of Cathedral Cove’s snorkel trail sounds magical: Gemstone Bay. At Gemstone Bay, you can get closer to rock crabs and lobsters than you will in many other areas of the world. Depending on how far you want to swim out, you will find fresh varieties of marine life up to 165m off the shore. To ensure snorkelers get more from their experience, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has carefully marked the different marine life habitats using buoys. Once you get bored with one buoy, you can swim out to the next to see different forms of marine life.
One unifying feature of all of these Marine Reserves is that they are very safe for snorkelers. While other Marine Reserves offer snorkelling experiences, you may find that strong tides make it difficult to swim, especially if you are an inexperienced snorkeler. Despite this, you should still consider taking someone who is more experienced with you, even when visiting the ‘safer’ Marine Reserves. This is particularly important for parents to bear in mind, as the further a child swims out the more likely they are to get into trouble if tides become strong. Finally, always remember that it is against the law to remove marine life from these reserves without asking for permission first. Observing a few basic guidelines can make your Marine Reserve experience more pleasant.