I’ve just come home from a wonderful holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Rarotonga is the main island for the Cook Islands, with the capital being Avarua. I had a really amazing time, but unfortunately as I write this, I’m suffering a terrible cold I tend to get after I travel :(. The main activities we did was Snorkeling,.
We flew out of Christchurch around midday, unfortuntaly flights going to Raro only leave from Auckland Int. airport, so we had a 7~ hour stopover in AKL. When we finally arrived in Raro, it was 1am Tuesday morning (the 22nd). The place we stayed – Tropical Sands, organized transport to and from the airport for us, so we were all set!
The first day we arrived we went to Avarua to get some groceries and some lunch. We were surprised at the place we ate at – charging for water! From then on we just carried around our own water bottles, as our water from our bungalow was perfectly fine (it went through 3 filters before it reached us). I was surprised to see lots of chickens around, and in the smaller settlements, lots of dogs!
We arrived back at our little bungalow to find a sign we missed the night before, which I thought was a cute touch! Our Bungalow had amazing views from the deck. It was a little sad that you couldn’t swim on the beach, but it was a small price to pay for the price of the bungalow (I think it was $170/night for self contained). The views were stunning, and there are amazing hermit crabs that wonder around everywhere. You have to be very careful not to step on them! I absolutly loved falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing, and the wind rustling the trees! One night we stayed, there was a tropical thunder storm. I’ve never been in one before, so I was quite scared, thunder rumbled the house! But Jared didn’t mind because there are often thunder storms in South Africa, where he is from.
The bungalow was equip with all we needed to cook and clean. The bathroom had a toilet, shower and a tiny bath, perhaps for kids? It was very small indeed! The shower wasn’t steady or boiling hot, but it was fine to rinse off sweat, salt, and sand, and have a quick wash! Jared said when he turned the water to warm, the stream was very small, whereas mine was pretty average. Maybe he was doing something wrong? lol.
The rest of the building was open plan. There was a small table which we ate at if not outside, a queen sized bed, and upstairs, on a little deck type thing, was another single bed, as the room can hold up to 3 people. Overall I loved the accommodation! I’m keen to stay there again, but Jared said he’d rather stay somewhere you can swim next time.
While we were out that first day, we got burnt while trying to find sunblock. We purchased a sunblock that was supposed to protect the reef, as normal sunblocks have chemicals which harm the coral etc however after application, and even waiting awhile until we went out, we got even more burnt. Turns out the sunblock we got doesn’t protect our skin very well, so we had to go and buy some sunblock that we knew would work for us.
We went snorkeling at Muri beach, and unfortunately I didn’t take my phone out of fear of it getting pinched (as recommended by a few people). At first we thought Muri was really nice. I saw some nice fish (LOTS of trigger fish!) but compared to other beaches we traveled to a few days later, it’s quite disappointing. Especially when you go futher down the beach to find lots of weeds in the ocean caused by pollution from the land (nitrates and what not), which means there was no fish there.
The next day we also just chilled and swam around. It wasn’t until the third day we went out on Captain Tama’s Cruises which included a glass bottomed boat, snorkeling in deeper waters, a feast on a small island near Muri, and some other entertainment, including coconut tree climbing demonstration, coconut husking, and sarong demo. I really wish I had an underwater camera, because there was some pretty cool fish we saw out there! I only have photos of the glass bottom and a few fish under it. The fish are pretty chill, and swim around you with no issue. There was no trigger fish out deeper (that I saw). The food and show were also really cool and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The guys onboard are super funny (I thought so, anyway! Sometimes a lot of people didn’t laugh except for me and another kiwi guy). Because of the location of our accommodation (away from the big resorts etc), we were sent our own van to pick us up and drop us of for Tama’s Cruises. I thought this was really cool! It was no extra cost for us, and it’s so nice to not worry about catching the right bus and getting there too early or too late!
The next night we went to Highland Paradise, which was a buffet and cultural show. I got some photos here, but they didn’t come out well, so I won’t post them. We learnt a little bit about the culture of Rarotonga, and a little bit of New Zealand Māori history, too. I think it would have been cool to learn a little more though, for example in NZ we have stories of our ancestors and creation stories like Rangi and Papa, or Māui and the giant fish (Where an ancestor fishes up the North Island). I really want to learn about these types of stories, if there are any. WHich I suppose could be found by a simple Google search, but it would have been cool to learn it there, at a cultural show, you know?
Aside from these two things, we mainly just chilled and did our own snorkeling. We became weary of trigger fish, and on Monday, lots of families were harasing the trigger fish, and “letting” the fish bite them. This upset a little, because it seems like these fish only attack if you are near their nests / home. As a result of this, when we went snorkeling again, the trigger fish were on the look out for trouble, and even though we did as we had done previous (swim away if we see one), they sometimes did follow, which was sad that other people ruined our experience by… “triggering” the fish. 🙁 But aside from that, the last place we snorkled was amazing. It was called Aroa Marine Reserve, and despite Muri having the best reviews on Trip Advisor, I highly recomend visiting this one instead if you are only stay a few days. The water was crystal clear, there was hardly any wind, there is a huge amount of coral and heaps of different fish!
We went to Muri night markets twice, the first night we just had dessert as we had to cook the food we got at home for dinner, and the second time we went we had dinner and dessert. Both times it was amazing. I had Garlic Prawns from Rays Hutt (I think it’s called?) which were to die for. WAY better and cheaper then the meal we had the night before, which was from a hotel restaurant. The only downside is that the markets start at 5pm, and the anti clock-wise bus (which is quicker to get to accom then the clockwise one) finishes at 430pm. Luckily for us, on the Sunday we had dinner, we realized Muri was very close to accommodation (3km, maybe? If that?) so we just took the bikes that were provided by Tropical Sands. No worries!
For the whole trip we used the buses for transport, unfortunately the price to get your scooter license is $90! For that price, and then the actual hiring of the scooters and the cost of petrol, it worked out cheaper to use the buses in the long run. It was a bit of a pain as I wanted to get off and explore around, but the buses only come every hour, and it’s a bit of a waste of a trip to get on and off whenever you see something interesting! If we did do that, it certainly would have been cheaper to rent scooters. Perhaps next time we go (and I really would love to go again!) we will hire scooters so we can explore more.
That’s basically our trip! No doubt I’ve probably forgotten something super exciting. I’ll edit if I remember. 🙂