Thursday, 24 May 2018

Rarotonga highlights reel

Gosh, I've been home for a month and not finished all the travel posts I have drafted. There are so many wonderful things to see and do in the Cook Islands, so this highlights reel will help remind me of the good times and round up a wonderful tropical holiday.


There are so many highlights that I barely know where to begin. I've already blogged about a few.
  • Breathing in that unmistakable sweet tropical scent from the moment I stepped off the plane. Ahhhh.
  • The main road goes right around the perimeter of Rarotonga, which  means you are never more than 10 metres away from scenes like this. #nofilter

  • Another day in paradise

  • The colours. Everything is so colourful, bright and vibrant. The island is covered in greenery that explodes with colour everywhere you look.

  • Drums, music and dancing everywhere. Music and dance is a huge part of Cook Island culture and is the primary expression of celebration.
  • Kayaking at Muri Beach. It takes just seven minutes to gently kayak across the sheltered lagoon to one of the islands where you can soak up some sun and just relax. At low tide, you can even walk across. Divine.

  • Punanga Nui Cultural Market on Saturday morning. It's the place to go for local food and crafts. Chances are you'll bump into everyone else you know while at the market as it's a popular hangout.

  • Tropical fruit
  • Muri night market. Great food at affordable prices four nights a week.

  • LBV Bakery in Muri Beach is by far the best place for coffee and baked goodies. (There is also one near Avarua.) The baguettes and doughnuts are some of the nicest I have ever tasted. You're on holiday so you can indulge in a doughnut or two. We did!

  • When in Muri ...
    Chocolate doughnut from LBV Bakery
  • Koteka Winery in Muri Beach. A backyard shed that is chock full of things fermenting and infusing in every type of bottle available. Drive up, toot your horn three times to see if anyone is home, then step into the eccentric world that is Koteka Winery. Spoiler alert: grapes are not grown on the island so the wine and vodka is made from bananas and any other type of fruit Koteka grows. I came away with a handful of the freshest, plumpest vanilla bean pods I've ever seen. You can also find Koteka at the Saturday markets in Avarua but I highly recommend trying to visit for a very eccentric island experience.

  • Vanilla bean pods


It's hard to imagine but there are some less than optimal things to experience in this island paradise (and others like it). From cockroaches the length of your hand that fly around at night in search of food to being constantly lathered in tropical strength Bushmans Deet to ward off insect bites, the variety and abundance of creepy crawlies takes some getting used to. Ants will sense an unrinsed plate from a mile away and converge in your kitchen sink at night. Centipedes will crawl along your floor and make a definite crunch noise if you happen to stand on one.

Oh, and the roosters will start crowing at 4am and only stop when the sun goes down. That's ok if your resident rooster lives a few houses away. Not so much if they're on your property.

Then there's the humidity in rainy season, especially just before a downpour. My usually flat hair restyled itself into what I call Humidity Frizz and the feeling of stickiness is constant. Air conditioning and ocean breezes offer some welcome relief.

Finally, the road. (Singular: one main road circles the entire perimeter of the island with various inland offshoots.) Rainy season plays havoc on road surfaces so there are potholes everywhere, but also makes it challenging to work out where the edge of the road should be, especially during a downpour. The road markings are faded to almost invisible, something that a few thousand cat's eyes would  go a long way towards ensuring safer driving at night.

Next time

There is plenty to see in the Cook Islands. Here are a couple of things I never got to do during this trip but hope I can return to experience them another time.
  • Day trip (or longer) to Aitutaki. Just a 45 minute flight away from Rarotonga, Aitutaki takes paradise to a whole new, but very expensive, level. Airfares for day trips start at around $500 so I'd like to spend a bit more time exploring. 
  • Captain Tama's glass bottom boat trip. Leaving from Muri Beach, these mini cruises looked like lots of fun.
Captain Tama's glass bottom boats at dusk

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