This tiny island located in the heart of South Pacific Ocean is a paradise that one has to experience at least once in their life-time. You’ll never want to leave once you set foot on this island.
Cook Islands in Brief?
Cook Islands, a tiny country in the South Pacific Ocean is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Australia and Hawaii. It is one of the exotic islands I have ever come to discover – Finding peace-of-mind and relaxation. Cook Islands is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 240 square kilometres. Cook Islands’ main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga, capital of Cook Islands and an international airport.
Cook Islands is one of the most magical places on earth. Time to kick back and relax. With its untouched beautiful beaches, warm water, lush green vegetation right in the heart of the island makes this tiny island an ideal piece of Paradise on earth. Cook Islands has been on my top priority-list of Pacific countries to visit for years. It was one of that rare moments in my travel plan that I wanted to visit various Pacific island nations, including Cook Islands throughout the South Pacific. These Pacific island nations included; Honiara, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa. Spending fews weeks in each of these island nations truly made me realise the differences in their culture and their way they live. Each of these islands are profoundly unique in their cultural history. Their laid-back lifestyle and the friendliness of the people truly welcomes you as you set foot on the islands. With no time limits, island way of life is nothing compared to Western modern cities where hustle and bustle becomes our daily way of life. We struggle and complain that “we never got time”.
The Big Island – Rarotonga
Rarotonga is the big island and you can drive around the island or Ring Road in less than 40 minutes. Soon after landing in Avarua, Cook Islands international airport in the early hours of the morning, I realise how beautiful this place is. The panoramic vision of Rarotonga should not be missed. Soon after, admiring this new found beauty, I made my way out to one of the beachside bar right in the city centre overlooking at the crystal clear lagoon. Here, I began sipping on my first cocktail as I enjoyed my traditional islander breakfast while watching the sun rises beyond the horizon. Just before 11am, I hopped on a taxi to my cottage, less then 3-minutes drive from the city centre. My self-contained private cottage was virtually right on the beachfront. Like most holiday destinations, Rarotonga has variety of accommodations to fit all families. It has other affordable accommodations to suit all budgets – from 5 star resorts to under-the-star campsites. I tried to avoid staying in resort like accommodations, especially, when I am visiting small islands. The feeling of authentic and close connections with the locals is not present. In having closer connection with the locals during my holidays to any places creates a better learning curve for me. I tend to better understand how locals live their lives on the island on daily basis and their cultural way of living. Since arriving mid-morning, I was due for a short nap to refresh myself before my evening outing.
Having heard so much about this place, I just couldn’t hesitate to go out and explore this tiny paradise island. Rarotonga is not an actioned packed destination. There are no mega shopping centres nor foreign fast foods, like McDonalds and are non-existence on the island. Infact, high-rise buildings are prohibited on the island. Most of the modern holiday resort-like buildings have to be no taller than coconut trees. This makes this island so unique to visit. As Cook Island is an Island, white sandy beaches are everywhere and you’re all surrounded by the bright blue sea. Every accommodation around the island virtually have beaches right outside their doorstep. Unlike, many other places that I have visited in various countries throughout the world have either secluded, common or designated beaches. It is an island with family-oriented atmosphere where everyone is so friendly but respect, privacy and integrity is the moral of the island. This certainly creates a relaxed, lay-back and problem-free island atmosphere holiday feeling. Its the idyllic place of dreams and I know I am in Paradise.
Starting my search for virtual holiday in Rarotonga and ending in Aitutaki, I had 10 days exploring this island, beach hopping taking me through Rarotonga, Cook Islands and Aitutaki. No matter where I was or what I wanted to, the island of Cook Islands was mine to enjoy at my own leisure. Since, it only takes 40-minutes to drive around the whole island, my expectation of exploring the whole island in just an hour on my first day was not an option. My first priority was to feel connected to the place and the local people. Looking at a local pub overlooking the ocean, I was intrigued and ventured inside this pub for my first stop to start out my “feel of the island”. As I sat there admiring the glittering sunset and darkness started to take its place, it just made the entire island so spectacular. As I blend myself into the evening, I decided to have a taste of local cuisine at a nearby stall. I don’t know what was the fish combination in the recipe but it tasted absolutely delicious. Travelling wise, eating at the local stalls are always the cheapest and best option rather than going into a restaurant with familiar western style dishes. As the night went on, the taste of island feeling started to emerge with local dancers swaying the night with a mix of traditional and modern style of Rarotongan island music. It was just so peaceful listening to the music on this tiny island in the middle of the ocean.
I was quick to realise that, like many tiny pacific islands, almost everyone knows each other and the locals are so friendly and gladly to invite you with open arms. They (locals) will let you know if your new in town. With such great reflief, this tiny island of Rarotonga is one of the safest place on earth. I totally felt safe, everywhere I went whether it was during the day or at night time. I felt like, I belong to the island even though I was on the island only for few hours.
The following day after breakfast, I was curious as to what I was going to do for the whole duration of my stay on the island. I decided to jumped onto a local public bus to the main town centre of the island, though it was just metres away from where I was staying, navigate myself in and around the corners of the main street. With no surprise, the local bus service was very reliable. The public bus does a loop around the only main road that goes around the whole island. It didn’t matter which direction I got on the bus, I still ended up where I began. There are lot of activities to do on the island from fishing, skiing to aerial scenic flights and the fun is endless. The town centre of the island has very limited shops but local stalls and markets makes the place very interesting place to amuse yourself. Within half an hour, I have seen the whole centre of the town.
The journey to this island holiday on this unspoilt island was to relax, stroll along the white sandy deserted beaches, do as little as I like and laze around chatting the day away going with the locals that I come in contact with. My room attendant Lorna was very kind that I spent a day or two with her where she took me for a ride on her motorcycle. We both visited few waterfalls and other places of interest which were not accessible or known to tourists. It is always good to know the locals during travels because they tend to show you places or sites where only locals know.
After spending few fabulous days in Rarotonga, I took a short 40-minutes flight to Aitutaki for few days, which is only accessible by air and can very expensive because of the single airline operating in the region. There is a ferry service but it travels infrequently and the route takes almost 18 hours because of its small population, it doesn’t justify a regular ferry service. Aitutaki is the second biggest island in Cook Island.
Rarotonga was absolutely beautiful but after seeing Aitutaki, my description of how beautiful has completely undermined that. I exited the maze feeling of euphoric. I was totally left speechless. This tiny island is simply a hidden paradise and if heaven on earth was for real, without a doubt this place was. It is not only a great destination for finding peace, quietness, relaxing and away from the rest of the world but it is a great place for fishing lovers. You have to go there to experience what fishing is all about and you will never be disappointed. It is undoubtedly the most exotic and beautiful island in the South Pacific
Most of the beaches are untouched, uncrowded and undeveloped for beachside resorts. It has some of the most wonderful spots with stunning views of the blue sea which will give you the chance to truly marvel at nature. I must say, these are some of the unique and pristine places on earth that are worth taking in. To me, this was the perfect place to escape the routine of everyday life. I virtually did nothing, except enjoy the pristine beaches, reading and relaxing alone on this secluded island. It was certainly an ultimate experience for me. I continue to add more relaxing and “time to myself” moments.
This idea of island holiday was to explore and discover its diversity of attractions, people, culture and their way of life on each islands – to name a few. It didn’t take much convincing to take this self-island vacation alone. While in Cook Islands, I intended to make most of my much-needed time alone and away from the rest of the world. This include totally banned myself from using mobile phone and other social media for the duration of my stay in Cook Islands. I have to say, I have survived the experience from the social cyber world.
Finally, my time of this island paradise was about to come to an end. I had lots of fun on my own and the amount of energy gained, I was guaranteed a satisfying journey back home. Without a doubt, this island feeling won’t be easy erased and certain this place is scripted for fulfilling desires.
Categories: PACIFIC ISLANDS