Dave's Cook Islands Trip


May 9-16, 2010

"If you're sitting at your desk having Robinson Crusoe daydreams, the Cook Islands might be a great vacation place for you. It doesn't get much more remote or more beautiful—what with the perfect beaches, deep jungle and coral lagoons. Each of the 15 islands seems more breathtaking than the last."- TripAdvisor

So how did I come up with this place that most Americans have never heard of? I really loved my trip to Tahiti, and was just surfing around looking at some packages for there for the heck of it. On this site they also had the Cook Islands, and upon inspection it seemed affordable, relatively easy to get to, and was like Tahiti yet would be somewhere different...the wheels started turning.

1 NZD = .72 USD
1.39 NZD = $1

Sunday 9th- fly

Southwest #2032 AUS 3:55 to LAX 5:05pm

Long layover in L.A. was a pain, not enough time to do anything but sit around the airport.
Pink's is a reknowned chili cheese hot dog place there I'd like to go to sometime.

Air New Zealand 11:15pm to Monday 6am

Monday 10th- arrive


These Air New Zealand flights are among the best I have EVER been on. Had the two seats to myself, plenty of room even in coach, brand new wide screen in-seat TVs with seemingly hundreds of options. Good staff, decent meals.
I watched Shutter Island and Moon, which was an interesting sci-fi concept.







The international arrivals terminal.


Kia orana is used as a greeting like "hello" would be, but I believe the literal meaning is "may you live long"- how nice it that?




645NZD garden superior, 35NZD transfers
includes breakfast
#9 of 17


There was one couple to check in in front of me, it went quickly. Eyeing the papers it said oceanfront room- I had been upgraded for free!


The room was basic but very large, AC worked well and had a small fridge too.

Even had a jacuzzi tub!



My building as seen through the tennis court.

After cleaning up a bit I headed over to the dining/pool area.




I wanted to check out the fish feeding, but it was really just a guy handing out bread.



A little later attended the hotel orientation, again nothing special.



Then quickly headed out for my first activity, taking the 11:40 bus around the island to get the lay of the land.





Very reminiscent of the North Shore of Oahu.






Bus stop


Downtown

After doing a full circuit I had to use another punch on the bus pass, then worked my way back south to have lunch according to my TripAdvisor research.



Saltwater Cafe for lunch.

Club sandwich, spicy potato wedges, a coke for about $20,



Then headed a little further down the road to Tikioki Beach- opposite Fruits of Rarotonga- supposed to be one of the top snorkeling spots.







With the exception of this picture, every time I saw this fish they were in pairs. Have to research their mating sometime.


The state fish of Hawaii, tons of these on the island.


I really wanted to see this type of starfish, so this sighting made me happy. Turns out there were lots of them to see during the week, but all of them were this exact same blue color. They almost don't look real, like they are a piece of plastic.




Cool, here was an octopus that was actually being hassled by a fish.




This guy was my buddy for the afternoon, kept following me around to keep me company.






And back to the resort.



I made it to the 4:30pm black pearl orientation at the resort, since I thought it would be good to learn more about this important island product, and while I was in Hawaii I had a girlfriend that really liked pearls.



This lady married a local and they run a pearl farm- Farm Direct Pearls.

Grading is based on size, shape, and quality.
There are 5 shapes: round, drop, circles, baroque, and keshi.
Quality = A (good color, good lustre), B (allowed 2 marks), C (cluster of marks), D (50 clear of marks)

Black pearls only come from French Polynesia (South Sea Pearls) and over the last few decades here as well.
Fresh water pearls are all white which can be dyed.

Oysters can seed about 3 pearls, then they are used for food.
Workers from China are used to put the beads into the oyster, a precise process that still has to be done quickly.


For dinner it was about a 10 minute walk down the main road to Alberto's, ranked by TripAdvisor as the #1 restaurant on Rarotonga.
Everyone raved about the t-bone steaks, but since I am more of a fillet person I instead got the spaghetti bolognaise, which was nothing to write home about. Mistake, should have tried the steak.

Click for Rarotonga, Cook Islands Forecast


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