The Cook Islands


Our flight overnight to Rarotonga was uneventful. We each took a half of an ambian with a small glass of wine and slept soundly. Too soundly. It was hard to wake up when we arrived at Rarotonga and we were both pretty dopey as we found our driver to take us to the hotel. When we arrived to our lovely room all we could do was go to sleep. So we did.

When we woke up about midday we got our bearings and really took a look at our surroundings. We are in a beautiful villa (much larger than the one bedroom we were expecting) with a lovely view of Muri lagoon. It was pretty stormy our first day with tropical rains and winds. When the sun came out we did some snorkeling in the lagoon. There isn’t much to see until you get closer to the protective reef where the big ocean waves were crashing onto the other side. The big ocean waves breaking create such an interesting contrast with the calm lagoon water . I was definitely affected by the time difference and passing through the space-time-continuum from Saturday evening to Saturday morning. Combined with the weather it made for a very mellow day.

Sunday the weather was much nicer which was perfect because we had planned a scuba dive with Pacific Divers. We didn’t know what to expect. This dive group was very easy going. No need to see our dive cards, the check in was very casual. Six of us piled into an extremely old van. Really, it was amazing that it still ran, complete with plywood floors. The dive boat was small, simple and in much better shape than the van.

The dive site is only 5 minutes from shore which was wonderful. No big-bumpy excursion. We could see from the boat that the clarity was very good and we weren’t disappointed. It was a bit nerve racking doing a back role into the water because the the sides of the boat were several feet above the water. Jim had no problem, but it took me a minute to just go for it. No problem!

We loved the easiness of the dive and beauty of the coral. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge my GoPro battery so I didn’t get very many photos or video. We saw some very pretty fish we hadn’t seen before and enjoyed the freedom of swimming around under the boat. Because we had done so much diving recently we were the best in the group for air consumption so we were the last to return to the surface.

Our second dive site was again only 5 minutes away and we went back to the dock to pick up some new divers who were doing their last test to earn their “open water” certification. How exciting! The second dive site was just as good as the first and we saw a very large lion fish as well as other cool stuff.

We had a bit of drama when I came up the ladder. Their rental fins don’t work with our dive booties so we didn’t wear our booties for these dives. Booties offer protection and a no slip surface coming up the ladder. I wasn’t focusing enough and unfortunately, I slipped, jamming my shin and foot in an extremely weird way between two rungs of the ladder. I was stuck and it took some maneuvering to get my gear off and delicately remove myself. But, with Jim and the Captain’s help I got in the boat. Luckily, I didn’t break anything and I only had a few scrapes and bruises on my left leg.

I spent the rest of the evening using a lot of ice on my leg and foot and I’m walking much better this morning. I should be fine to snorkel and enjoy the rest of the trip: no worries, just a little drama, it’s all good.

As I write the blog on our deck, a local Island music show has begun next door with some great drumming and singing.

Today we are going to rent a scooter and explore some snorkel sites on other parts of Rarotonga and get a massage at a small local spa.

What can we say, Jim and I love scooters! Because of my sore foot we rented just one scooter and I rode on the back. We were both a bit nervous at first, but Jim did a great job. This small Island is very scooter friendly. It’s the main mode of transportation. No one uses helmets even though the law is you can’t drive faster than 40 kph without a helmet. Silly, but that’s the way it is. We were careful never to drive faster than 40 (the speed limit ranged from 30 to 50 kph, depending on whether you were in a little town or retail center or in the “country”). It was easy to navigate — there was only one paved road and you traveled either clockwise or “anti-clockwise” (they don’t say “counter-clockwise” here).

Being on the back of the scooter holding on to Jim is so romantic. It makes me feel young and delicate and a Jim feels young and strong! It’s magical! The weather was a bit tropical yesterday with some really big thunderstorms.

We circumnavigated the Island (clockwise), timing our stops around the tropical weather perfectly. We sat out one 15-minute rain storm over coffee and a super big thunderstorm (lasting 30 minutes) over lunch.

Yesterday was also massage day and we had two great massages at the Rumors Waterfall Spa. We both fell asleep (which almost never happens to me) and were totally relaxed. We made it back to our hotel and enjoyed some quiet reading time.

We decided to ride our scooter out again for sunset and find some dinner. The sunset thunder clouds in the distance were pink and glowing. Our original goal, the Fish House, was closed, so we continued on and stopped at Tamarind House. It was empty, but apparently they were pretty booked up for the evening. The receptionist found us an unused table and we had a great dinner with a pretty sunset view. Now we had to scooter at night back to our hotel, but it was no problem.

Rarotonga has grown on us. You just have to adapt to the slow pace and adjust your activities to the ever changing weather. Now we are on a small plane to Aitutaki (“eye-two-talk-ee”), a smaller island with a much bigger lagoon and a lot of little beach resorts. Our last big adventure of this trip begins in about an hour, and we’re really looking forward to it!

We have arrived in Aitutuki at our lovely beach front condo. It’s pretty awesome. The water is beautiful and the coral In the lagoon is amazingly diverse. We don’t have very impressive internet so no photos until we get back in LA on Mother’s Day.

4 thoughts on “The Cook Islands

  1. The Cook Islands are providing vicarious pleasure in your fine descriptions for Betty and Josh. We will probably overfly them at some point, but we will relive your adventures when we do.

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