Three weeks ago I was in the Cook Islands.
Mike and I flew with Pacific Blue from Auckland to Rarotonga on a Friday night. We’d got a fantastic deal on the flights (we’re talking under $300 each return for the trip).
We were picked up from the airport by our host from Tiare Village backpackers and taken to our pool-side unit accommodation for the first two nights. Tiare village is behind the airport so handy if you’re arriving late in the evening. It was very reasonably priced ($70 for the unit per night and we were in the flashest accommodation in the complex) and was near a store we could grab breakfast from in the morning. The downside was that it was neather near town or the beach so you need a form of transportation.
Mike and I hired a green Nissan March from Budget for two days which we named ‘Mulchie’ as I have a compulsive need to name any vehicle I drive in. This enabled us to drive around the island a few times to get our bearings and stop at points of interest as we pleased.
There were some great activities at The Rarotongan including an Island Night held at the resort where we got to experience a Cook Island BBQ and see traditional dancing and music.
I did my PADI Open Water Licence in 2003 so was able to do a dive with Amanda and Tom from Pacific Divers. Diving off a boat in the lagoon in just a bikini was very different to my training dives in Wellington’s Lyall Bay in the middle of Winter when the water was around 11 degrees and we didn’t see any pretty fish or coral.
I’ve been to Fiji and New Caledonia on previous vacations. What I really liked about Rarotonga in comparison was that all the locals seemed to be working hard and doing well for themselves. In Nadi, Suva and Noumea there was a lot of poverty – shacks on the side of the road, beggars etc. while the tourist ‘hubs’ were a complete contrast. What tourists see in Rarotonga is the real Cook Islands.