After a 9.5-hour overnight non-stop flight from Los Angeles, we arrived in Rarotonga in the early morning. We were met at the airport by ukulele singers and a flower lei greeting by our hosts, Cook Island Tourism.
After an early check-in to our hotel, we began our Cook Island journey with an Island discovery tour of Rarotonga. We visited ancient ceremonial sites, and viewed limestone churches, the Raemuru Mountain and plantations of citrus, bananas, tapioca, papaya, taro and other crops that lined our route. This felt like what Kauai might have been like 40-50 years ago. Not touristy, but rural and local.
We were treated to lunch at the Moorings Café. An unforgettable lagoon-side café to lunch at on oversized delicious fish sandwiches while admiring the view. I only dream of dining places like this in paradise.
The remaining afternoon included six hotel inspections and a gourmet dinner at the luxury Nautilus Resort, which was an experience not to forget.
The next day we enjoyed the Raro Safari Tour, which took us into the inland of Rarotonga on a 4x4 safari jeep through bumpy unpaved narrow backroads. A disappointing stop at Papua Waterfall, as there was no water, not even a trickle. Much of what I saw around the island the day prior was repeated. We continued to drive deeper into the interior, which brought us to the beautiful Avatiu Valley with a view of the Needle, Te Rua Manga, which we also stopped at for a tropical snack of fresh cut coconut and papayas. A fun, exhilarating experience.
On our third day, we took a short 45-minute flight from Rarotonga and we’ve arrived on the romantic atoll, the island of Aitutaki, also known as ‘Honeymoon Island.’ Here we went on the Punarei Cultural Tour to learn about the traditions, myths and legends of Aututaki historic culture.