The Rarotongan Resort where we stayed..right on the beach front which was perfect.. is limited with it’s restaurant facilities…this is often the case with semi secluded resorts…case in point here..Captain Andy’s breakfast menu is the the same as Captain Andy’s lunch menu..and Captain Andy’s lunch menu is the same as Captain Andy’s Dinner menu..and Captain Andy’s dinner menu is the same as Captain Andy’s room service menu..however, there an additional $9 NZD for the luxury of eating in your room..so there is a strong desire to eat elsewhere….however there is another catch..the island bus that runs clockwise around the island cost $10 pp return ..not a lot until you times that by 6 people a few nights a week..and that’s the cocktail budget gone!..
The taxis are $40 each way into the hub..it’s an expensive exercise to eat away from the resort…so we hired a car for the last couple of days and I strongly recommend doing so if you are traveling In a large group…mopeds are a more cost effective method..but the thought of my 73 yr old mother hooning the quiet streets of Raro with my 10yr old daughter perched on the back confirmed the car as the best and safest bet. The 2 day hire cost less than the bus option for 3 days, and we ran in and out of the hub for souvenir shopping and to check out the island in more detail…Driving off the only main road and heading inland to the 2nd circular road that accommodates the locals houses, shacks and farms as we wound our way up towards the volcanic mountains …a little cultural tour..it was misty and tropical..and slightly Jurassic park like..this kinda freaked out the kids!
Day 5: Dinner was booked at the Ginger Garden restaurant at the Sanctuary Resort.. Our neighbouring hotel..the food was really delicious .. The Szechuan Salt and Pepper Squid was exceptional and so fresh…as too was the Nasi Goring and the Butter Chicken..a delightful change in pace from Captain Andy’s all American based fare..there’s only so many Caesar salads and Jalepeno quesadilla one can eat… However when we went to book their 2nd restaurant at this hotel for the following night .. The Blue Grill.. as we were hankering for an eye fillet fix…We were informed that this resort had a no kids under 16 policy for dining and last night was a fluke…hmmm..that’s annoying..so we opted for The Spaghetti and Pasta Place…at the Edgewater Resort..another hotel on the outskirts of town..it was ok…but not on par with a juicy steak.
Day 6: My 14 yr old daughter and I decided to book scuba lessons in the lagoon right outside our hotel room..she has never dived before and I have only snorkeled or snuba dived..which is snorkeling on the surface of the water with strange air tank as a flotation device..not cool…so we headed off early to the dive shop and were fitted out in our gear..learnt the underwater hand signals, taught how to check the breathing regulator and inflate and deflate our jackets, depending on the depths we want to go..loaded up with 20 kg of apparatus strapped to us we were headed into the lagoon to the clearest waters to dive.. If you want to learn to dive but are hesitant, this one on one lesson in the semi open waters is the way to go…it’s deep enough to get a sense of diving deep..my ears popped and my chest tightened as we swam down to the reef…but shallow enough not to panic about rising to the top quickly if you need to. Being a little claustrophobic that was my número uno fear..and a small personal goal was achieved as I stayed under water for over an hour ..It was extremely peaceful once you mastered the breathing technique..
The coral and local reef fish was amazing..I swam amongst a school of blue fin trevally, saw the biggest scorpion seen by our instructor ever..and managed to annoy the unfriendly moray fish as it poked its head out of the reef to snap at me whilst taking a sneaky pic… Due to our flights being the next night it wasn’t possible to do a proper dive out in the open waters as part of a tour which is a shame..but it’s a definite to do on our next tropical adventure..my daughter loved it and may have found a new hobby..lessons start from approx $95 pp depending on the dive school.
Day 7: Our final day on Rarotonga was a windy, rainy, cool day..a shame because we had planned to laze around in the sun all day and soak up a much sunshine as we could to take home..not the case…so massages and facials plus some last minute shopping was all we could muster..a late lunch in town at the Salsa Cafe and then we headed back to the resort to pack and prepare for evening flight home.
All in all the Cook Islands was a wonderful holiday experience..however with some negatives…the hotels are outdated..our 5 star would be at most a 3..expensive meals and drinking water…everything costs…nothing is free…no Internet unless you pay $50 for 200mb..I did..and it lasted 7 minutes…..and if you need milk for coffees or smoothies..it doesn’t exist..powdered or UHT for the island as fresh milk is too expensive..The positives certainly do outweigh the ‘island time’ vibe on this holiday …friendly people and staff, amazing surroundings with lagoons and beaches a 5 star rating for sure..
If your looking for a Fiji or Tahiti alternative head over this way…I look forward to returning and exploring some of the smaller idyllic islands dotted amongst the cluster of Cook Islands…the next one on the list is Akitua…now that looks amazing with its over water bures….a couples only vacay….but for now it’s back to work to save for the next adventure…