Relaxing in RarotongaJust a six-hour flight from Sydney and you could be landing in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands. Only 32 kilometres in circumference, this beautiful island is rimmed with palm-fringed white sandy beaches surrounded by a cobalt coloured lagoon.
Entering the airport, the obligatory guitar player and accompanying chorus of singers greets you, along with the first of many ‘kia oranas’ (hellos).
Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand they have the status of Cook Island nationals.
The currency is the New Zealand dollar, which makes it easier for us Aussies as we get more bang for our buck.
Cook Island Maori is spoken on the islands, but everyone speaks English and the relaxed atmosphere makes Australians feel very much at home.
Getting around the island is quite simple as there’s only one main road with a bus leaving five minutes past the hour in a clockwise direction and fifteen minutes past the hour in an anti-clockwise direction.
Scooters are easily hired and are the most popular form of transport. Personally, I would never throw a leg over any two-wheeled mechanical contraption when travelling overseas unless I had the scooter/motor bike box ticked off on my travel insurance policy. If you don’t have it ticked and you have an accident, you might find yourself a long way up Shit Creek and paddles don’t come cheap in these parts.
When you arrive in the Cook Islands it is suggested that cast aside your watch and you reset your body clock to ‘Cook Island time’. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the island pace. What’s the rush anyway?
My first introduction to island life was a three-night stay at the Pacific Resort with Muri Beach as its backyard. The beach is a stand-up paddler’s, kayaker’s, kite surfer’s, snorkeller’s and sun worshipper’s paradise.
The contrasting colours on the beaches are vividly layered. The green palm fringed beaches transition into white sand, and the aquamarine of the lagoon darkens as the water gets deeper until it reaches the reef with its crashing waves and morphs into a inky blue.
Muri Beach is striking with its four uninhabited islands close by as a backdrop. It’s surrounded by water with an inviting temperature and at low tide it’s the perfect beach for a stroll.
My next stop, only a 15-minute drive away, was the Sanctuary Raratonga – On The Beach (for adults only) with a sister resort next door catering for families.
The resort has its own private beach, Aroa. The beaches here were smaller but the colours were just as beautiful as Muri Beach. Like all of Rarotonga’s beaches, water activities reigned supreme.
There was much to do in this part of the island: island tours, whale watching (in season), snorkelling/diving, fishing trips, bus bar hopping, four-wheel driving, sunset cruises and complete island circumnavigations.
For the more physically adventurous, outstanding cross-island hiking tours are available where you can learn all about the tropical flora and fauna as you trek to lookouts with extraordinary views.
I did my own walks and self-discovery tours, but for more extensive hikes I would advise you take the guided tours.
Taking the island bus into the town of Avarua was an adventure in itself and gave me an insight into local life whilst bumping along the one main road that hugs the coastline and offers spectacular views.
In town I settled in at a Rarotongan institution called Trader Jacks, a waterside bar and grill. With inviting views, a cool vibe, refreshing beverages and music wafting from the bar, the only thing left to do was to watch the sun go down.
The only problem I encountered on my trip was that I fell in love with one of the staff members at the Sanctuary Raratonga; she was so full of life, kind and so large in spirit that I wanted to smuggle her home. The only thing stopping me was the excess weight charges and possibly her unwillingness to leave this paradise.
Speaking of excessive charges, the Wi-Fi ain’t cheap. It is charged at a phenomenal rate and if you need to use it, be prepared to pay. Thankfully the Cook Islands are the perfect place to turn off social media and enjoy this exquisite island World Wide Web free.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Vicki Gilden at Rose Bay Travel (02) 9371 8166
HOW TO BOOK ACCOMMODATION: