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It’s worth doing a little more research before coming to The Coromandel. Engaging dive professionals is paramount, as good as these spots are, they’re not without their challenges. Check out the local dive operators who have years of experience and know all the best spots for the varying conditions.
Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve
The first place that has to be visited is Te Whanganui a Hei Marine reserve, commonly known as Cathedral Cove Marine reserve. A great spot for snorkelling a protected reserve complete with a fun snorkel trail. The snorkel trail has floating buoys with pictures and descriptions of the species of fish found below the surface. There are boat tours from Whitianga that can take you to Cathedral Cove, alternatively you can walk from Hahei.
Check out Gemstone Bay, plentiful snapper and crayfish on supply – albeit protected. Kingfish Rock’s name is self explanatory, you’ll also see leatherjackets, spotties and marblefish. Mahurangi or Goat Island to the locals (not to be confused with Goat Island north of Auckland) sits just outside the marine reserve, deep canyons and Spectacle Reef are the notable attractions.
Not far from Hahei and the Marine reserve are the outer islands, pinnacles and volcanic coastline that present a bounty of aquatic life for the avid diver.
Reefs, sandy bottoms, caves, pinnacles, drop offs and islands are on show in the Mercury Bay and Islands. With names like Never Fail Reef and Red Mercury the promise of new discoveries is all to inviting. The Mercury Islands are best accessed from Whitianga.
Don’t miss the annual Dive Festival in Whitianga. This event has been running over a decade and attracts keen divers from around the world.
Offshore from Tairua the Alderman Islands remain one of The Coromandel’s best kept secrets. Sunken pinnacles, deep drop offs, boulder bays, wedges and caves make this place an all time favourite for novices and experts.
The visibility is more often than not perfect. It’s here that you may encounter aquatic life usually reserved for the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean.
When visiting The Coromandel check out the homegrown dining options to get a taste of local seafood before gathering your own.