the Cook Islands
Adventures Sea Scooters
SCENES reminiscent of the documentaries of the legendary Jacques
Cousteau on his powered underwater craft I took to the blue
waters of Rarotonga behind a Sea Scooter humming the tune Calypso.
was the late-great John Denver musical tribute to the French
aquanaut who not only invented Self-Contained Underwater Breathing
Apparatus (SCUBA), but also enthralled millions of people around
with world with his television shows highlighting the wonders
of our oceans.
a youngster I watched those shows wanting to so be one of his
team and, when old enough, qualified as a scuba diver. Diving
in New Zealand waters is fine, but itís only when you head underwater
Ė or snorkel on top of it Ė in the tropics that you can really
get to love the adventure.
seas, colourful fish and coral and water so clear you could
read a book underwater from 50 metres away.
in the Cook Islands we decided to go on a sea-scootering safari
with Ariki Adventures around a lovely part of Muri Lagoon.
little units sea scooters are battery powered and give you about
90 minutes of being dragged through the water at four km/h.
If you use your fins as well you can almost double that, as
well as giving your battery extra distance.
hand-operated machines are like stunted torpedos, with a bullet
shaped front and a large fan safely tucked away in a cage. That
said people with long hair do have to tie it up and you cannot
have any dangling things such as earrings or cameras.
GoPros are okay though as there are mounts for the little-wiz
cameras on the front of the sea scooters.
tour leader Lee said just in case anything happened he did have
a sharp knife to remove entangled hair. Not a pretty thought
for gals, not so much of a worry for shaven-headed chaps like
me, although I would watch out for my moustache!
safari begins near Fruits of Rarotonga and we receive a briefing
on how to operate the machines and what we are likely to see.
the waters of the lagoon are warm, Lee suggests wetsuits are
the way to go because after 90 minutes you can get a bit cold.
Wetsuits cost an extra $10 to hire on top of the $65 price.
I was humming and hah-ing, not over the cost but purely because
I enjoy snorkeling freely in tropical waters, however when he
mentioned you can also brush up against fire coral I thought
ah well, why not. Hereís the tip, avoid all red and yellow corals.
The nickname fire coral should give you an indication of how
it feels to come into contact with it.
after cleaning our masks and donning our fins it was off on
our adventure. A la Jacques Cousteau it was onwards and downwards
following some brightly hued denizens of the shallow lagoon.
sea scooters are really easy to operate. Most of them need two
hands to keep the propulsion system going with a throttle button
in each of the handles that need to be held down simultaneously.
they are darn simple to steer. Point them in the direction you
want to go and thatís where you will head. Itís cool when you
want to change direction, or even dive to the lagoon floor to
inspect some coral or giant clams, but point it upwards and
you could end up breaching like a humpback whale. Well, sort
of the tour takes you through shallow coral canyons in Muri
Lagoon where you will see plenty of great little fish.
you will recognize, others you wonít, although there is a chart
back at base where you can identify the little swimmers you
half way through your safari you do a catch up with the Captain
Tamaís Lagoon Cruise ships. This brings the benefits of
swimming amid schools of big fish like trevally that get attracted
by feed from the boats.
only downside is that you also have to wend your way through
classrooms of snorkelers. Flipper here, flipper there, leg in
the face here, elbow there.
throughout the 90-minute journey you need to keep your eyes
peeled for the sea turtles that make regular visits to the calm
Speaking of sea beasties - you do come across a couple of moray
eels lounging about in their rocky havens. I have to say one
was the most massive thing I have ever seen. Wow.
sea scooter safaris are a very pleasant, relaxing way to spend
a morning, or afternoon, in the waters of Rarotonga.
fun for everyone aged 9 and up.