Well after a brief blog hiatus, I’m back and excited to share all of the deets on my recent trip to the Cook Islands! If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking where the hell are the Cook Islands? And you know what? I don’t blame you because it’s practically in the middle of nowhere, like actually is just a small string of islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – aka I was pretty much off the grid.
Getting there was an adventure all on its own. We flew from NYC to LAX and then from LAX straight to the Rarotonga (the most populous of the Cook Islands) via Air New Zealand, which is probably one of the best airlines I’ve ever used. All in all, we traveled roughly 24 hours to get there, with roundtrip tickets costing around $1200 and man, was it worth it.
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I kid you not, you need to see this place at some point in your life. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it’s practically untouched. There are no chain restaurants, department stores or even street lights. The airport can only handle one plane at a time and most of the restaurants and bars close around 9 p.m. (not always ideal, as you had to eat dinner early, but when in Rarotonga, do as the Rarotongans do, right?) It was the kind of place that you go and you feel at peace with the world and guys, you could actually see stars at night!
More on Rarotonga – the island is only 26 square miles, with beautiful beaches all around with a range of hills in the center, which is actually a volcano. People say Rarotonga is what Hawaii was 30-40 years ago, before all of the corporate hotels came in and took over, so imagine Hawaii without all of the people. Most of the locals speak English, but their main language is Maori, which is an East Polynesian language. Though there are cars on the island, most locals travel by vespa given that the weather is pretty much amazing all year round. The whole time we were there in April, it was in the high 80s during the day and in the 70s at night. Like any island, it rains for periods at a time, but is followed by immense sunshine.
The island is also surrounded by a shallow lagoon which extends to the reef and then slowly slopes into the deep water. Though the water outside of our house wasn’t suitable for full-out swimming, as it was very shallow, it was perfect for sitting and relaxing in the water to enjoy the calmness of the ocean.
Though there are quite a few resorts on the island, we opted for an Airbnb, as we were a larger group and knew we wanted our own space to relax, have a few drinks and pretty much disconnect from the world. We also wanted more of a local feel and of course, our own pool and practically private beach to relax in. We decided on Heritage on the Beach and it could not have been more perfect. Not only were the owners of the property extremely helpful and accommodating, but the place itself was very well kept and in the perfect location. Plus, it was absolutely stunning. If you’re more of a hotel person, I highly recommend the Rarotongan, or any of the other hotels in the Muri Beach area, as it’s great for swimming and water activities.
We chose to rent a car for the week that we were there, as we knew that we would want to come and go as we pleased and didn’t want to have to depend on someone else to get us around. Though it only takes about 20 minutes to drive around the whole island (crazy!), the grocery and liquor stores are rather spaced out, so if you’re staying on your own, it’s helpful to have a car. Did I also mention that there’s pretty much only one main road? Yes, there are others on the island, but this is one of the few paved roads that actually goes all the way around the island. There are also very limited means of transportation.There’s a bus that goes around, but service ends around 4 p.m. so it’s only an option during the day.
If you can’t already tell from the above pictures, everywhere you turned was picturesque (can I go back now?). In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing all about what we did there, where we ate and of course, what I wore 🙂