I went to the Cook Islands on a whim. My friend was already going and asked if I wanted to come as it was a good deal. I looked at the numbers and the numbers looked pleasing!
$900 dollars for a week in paradise seemed like a great deal to me and although I was working freelance and hosbo for very little money, I decided to take a gamble as I needed a break from work and the coffee grind that Auckland had become.
On my flight over to Australia, last time I came from the UK – I met a very tall, slender Indian man that told me ‘I needed to go to the Islands’. He mentioned Fiji and the south pacific and this was one of the reasons I was curious to explore the Cook Islands.
I flew out from Auckland airport and it took very little time to get there. It’s a weird feeling flying into the biggest ocean in the world with the aim of landing on a tiny spit of sand that was smaller than the village I grew up in.
When we arrived – it was dark and raining heavy. I knew it was low season and was a little concerned that I had just booked myself 5 days of tropical rain.
We stayed at Club Raro which is the typical ‘nice resort’ on the wrong side of the island set up. Cheap accommodation with moderate rooms, in lush grounds. When you come from the backpacker lifestyle anything moderately private is better than a dorm room, our room was like luxury. Me and Stan shared a large triple room which was more than adequate and the beds were pretty comfy too.
Club Raro was situated on the North-East of the island, which was home to the crappest beaches of the island that were essentially covered in stones and giant corals and shells.
This was no problem for us seasoned travellers as we simply rented out bicycles when we needed to get around or we got the local bus.
To give you a bit of background, Rarotonga is a near circular volcanic island that rises into a mountainous region within the centre. There are 2 buses – clockwise and anti-clockwise and they drive around the island all day. Well maintained Asian market Japanese buses from the 60’s were a very cool and exotic form of transport when you hail from Anglia East of the fens.
The first day we were there the weather was amazing and we walked / swam out to a natural spit lush green island and snorkelled and dived. We were the only ones out there and it was true Crusoe paradise. I was hit with this amazing feeling of tranquility and even with my energetic friend present – we were both so laid back and relaxed in this amazing setting out of the pacific wind on the little island we had made home that afternoon.
I just sat there for about an hour in golden rich sand with my legs in warm shallow water with fish swimming all around me. I had coconut trees behind me, zero wind and the relaxing sounds of the waves breaking on the islands natural volcanic ring.
The next few days involved more of the same, exploring the island, booking a dive and renting out kayaks.
We dived with Big Fish on Rarotonga and they took us out to this amazing dive site. It was like an underwater carpark, one side had perfectly level white sand that meet a steep wall of hard corals and plant and marine life. parked up along the edge were reef shark that looked like cars and then around 30 metres in the outward direction was a visible drop off down deep into the unknown that turned dark as night when you stared down into it. The water here was so blue and so beautiful and the diving was very nice and a great refresher as I had not dived for over 2 years.
Later that day we rented the kayaks out and took them to the circular reef edge where the waves were hitting the volcanic rim of the island, the last border onto the great pacific and it was here that we found a lot of star fish and eels and other things that were hiding away from island predators.
There were a lot of dogs out on the island and most of them were friendly with the exception of 2 that chased us, but luckily did not bite.
Rarotonga is interestingly divided up like a cake with segments each belonging to the various tribes that have lived there since the days of old. They bury their dead where they can be most viewed and they have introduced over 10 different types (what I counted) of religious churches onto the island.
The above was written around 2 months after being back from Raro, but the below was written while I was present on Rarotonga. It’s remarkable how different things can feel in the present when you are experiencing them.
The real cost of living around the world is not just about the cost of goods but the ability to sustain a balanced life . But when you’re surrounded by paradise and nice warm weather, everything else melts away,