Sunday, November 3, 2013


After our week in Raratonga, we flew to a second island, Aitutaki.
Our hotel in Aitutaki is just so beautiful, and we have a beach-front bungalow with a large verandah where we can look out over the lagoon surrounding the island and just relax. There are only 27 bungalows in the hotel, so it's nice and peaceful.  It's a hardship, having to be in such a beautiful place, but someone has to do it.
Our Room
Our Balcony/Verandah

View of the Lagoon from our Balcony
Our little bungalow from the beach

Resort pool


We took a day trip on Aitutaki's famous lagoon.  We chose not to go on one of the bigger boats, even though one former passenger happily informed us that they had toilets on board, but instead chose a small boat which took only eight passengers.  Our captain, Captain Fantastic, could not have been better.  One of our passengers was an elderly man who was not very mobile, and the captain constantly helped him in and out of the boat. We snorkelled in two places, and visited seven islands.  There was some rain, but the afternoon cleared up, and it really doesn't matter if it rains when you a snorkelling. Those who know Andy know that he needs to wear glasses - without them he can't see a thing.  But the strange thing was that when snorkelling, even though he had no glasses on, he could see perfectly, and even see down 10 meters or so to the bottom of the lagoon.
We had a really nice lunch on one of the islands we stopped at. A fantastic day, though I got very sunburnt.
Andy snorkelling
Lunch stop
Lunch being prepared
Lunch is ready
The location for Survivor Cook Islands
Andy contemplating the view
One Foot Island

Free-range chickens, DIY cemeteries and sea cucumbers

The three things that will stick most in my memory about Rarotonga (main island in the Cook Islands Group) are free-range chickens, DIY cemeteries and sea cucumbers.  Oh, and the beautiful beaches and magnificent mountains, of course.
Chicken and Rooster in the main town on Rarotonga

Everywhere you go around the island, chickens and roosters roam free. Some of them are very attractive looking birds, some are scrawny ones.  Many of the toddlers staying here in our hotel are more taken by the chickens (and the dogs that also roam wild) than anything else.  The only other birds I have seen are those blasted Indian Mynahs, which are as much (or perhaps more) of a pest as that are back in Australia.

What about these 'DIY cemeteries'?  Here in the Cook Islands it is possible to bury your loved ones on your own property if you own the freehold to that property. This means that there are small family cemeteries all over the place, and even the odd grave underneath a carport-type of structure in someone's front yard!  As a genealogist I'm not sure if this would find making graves easier or more difficult.  One thing a guide told us, though, is that you won't find any from the 1700s or early 1800s, because at that stage the Cook Islands were still cannibals, and had not been converted by the missionaries to the need to bury the remains of their loved ones.

Grave in the front yard
And what about the sea cucumbers? Well, our resort here is on Muri lagoon, and all throughout the lagoon are sea cucumbers, which look like giant slugs (or something more unpleasant!).  They are perfectly harmless, and actually keep the lagoon clean, and they proliferate all over the lagoon.

Amongst the seaweed are several sea-cucumbers
The hotel we are staying in, Pacific Resort Rarotonga, is very nice.  We've been on a very interesting cultural tour, followed by an evening show and buffet at Te Vara Nui village, which was really interesting and enjoyable. 

Making local medicine on the cultural tour

Evening show
I've also been on a safari tour around the island, but sadly Andy had to miss it as he was not well that day (something he ate, I suspect). That was a pity, as it was really enjoyable.  Our driver, Mr Useless, took us to see a famous waterfall (which had no water falling!), some of the native crops growing, the Noni factory, to see where the seven canoes departed Rarotonga to go and settle in New Zealand and then up into the volcanic mountains to see the most wonderful views. After that it was a delicious lunch and then back to the hotel for the afternoon.

The settlers of New Zealand set off from here

Some of the glorious scenery on the island
All the people on the island have been very friendly and it's been a great holiday destination.

Barefoot Bar and Restaurant

Resort Grounds

Resort Grounds

Muri Lagoon