Cook Island, one of few NSW islands is located approximately 600m offshore from Fingal Head and four kilometers southeast of Tweed Heads in Northern NSW and right on the boundary of the Gold Coast.
Just a 15-minute boat ride from Fingel Point in Tweed Heads is Cook Island Aquatic Marine Reserve, where vast schools of pelagic fish, as well as rays and sharks, abound.
Cook Island Aquatic Reserve was declared on October 23, 1998 to protect the marine biodiversity of the island’s reef system.
Cook Island hosts a great diversity of marine life resulting from the warm east Australian current from the north converging with cooler currents from the south. Temperate, subtropical and tropical species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs are found around the island.
Cook Island is also visited or inhabited by a number of protected species including the Giant Queensland Groper, Black Cod, Estuary Cod and the endangered Grey Nurse Shark.
It’s renowned for its green and loggerhead turtles. Leopard and wobbegong sharks are also frequent spectacles and the south side is teeming with macro. Its fish species are bountiful and nudibranchs, rays and eels and occys are plentiful.
During Whale Watching Season – June to November you can hear the whales singing and if you are lucky, you’ll spot one or two Humpbacks swiming around the island usually on the southern migration and this means there’s usually a calf with mum close by – you’ll be blown away.
On your trip out to Cook, watch out for the bottlenose dolphins in the river, they love to play around the boat or the common dolphins around the island – whatever you see – it’s magic !!
There are 13 moorings around the island which almost all are diveable. It comprises three sides, the North, South and East; all have totally different topography and marine life.
The North Wall is popular for its long easy navigational wall which extends right through to Mary’s Rock. The ledge which is at 5m and perfect for safety stops or snorkeling is home to baby wobbegongs, nudibranchs, lionfish, octopus and a diverse range of schooling fish. The ledge drops down to 12 meters and meets a sandy bottom where you will find green and loggerhead turtles, leopards in summer and grey nurse in the winter, a variety of rays, groper and much more.
The South side is a photographer’s dream, a macro delight that on a nice day sees colorful soft corals teeming with micro marine life and sometimes feel likes you are diving in a giant aquarium. Eagle rays and even the occasional Manta ray can be seen flying the waterways plus shovel nose rays, groper, cod, and schools of kingfish are all residents in this colorful neighbourhood. With a depth of only 10m is doesn’t get any more relaxing than this.
The East and the most adventurous is full of caves, crevices and swim throughs like a magical garden waiting to be explored. Around every bend and on the other side of each swim through a Wobbegong awaits you. Its also the hang out for the baby turtles to flourish before they move on to the more open waters of the North side.
Each side has its own charm to lure you in and many more secret spots to discover.