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September 6th 2008
Published: November 17th 2008
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It is market day on Raro so although we are stiff and sore from the trek we headed to the Punanga Nui Market this morning. It's Ruth's mums birthday today so we picked them up and headed to Avarua. The market was interesting as markets tend to be anywhere in the world, there were lots of different foods and arts and crafts. The weather is not the best, rain has forced us to duck in and out of shops and stalls, I bought some coconut scones and a steakroll with mushroom sauce for lunch both were really good.

We then went looking for the Raratonga prison, I had heard that you could buy hand made ukeleles (by the prisoners) there for bargain prices, it took a little while to locate the prison which was on the ancient highway that runs parallel to the coast highway. When we arrived none of the women wanted to go in so I locked them in the car and entered the building, they had a few ukeleles but not what I was looking for, I told the prison guard I would come back on my return from Aitutaki, to see if they had any then, apparently the locals come to the prison and purchase the instuments and then sell them to tourist at the market for three or four times the price they paid.

I then drove back to Muri Beach Hideway to pack my bags for the afternoon (3.30pm) flight to Aitutaki, we then drove back to Avarua dropping off Ruth's mum and aunty before returning the car and going to the airport, Avarua is seriously dead on saturdays, most people are probably at church or something. The airport was deserted when we got there so we were able to check our bags quickly, the plane a SAAB 340 is quite small and the flight time 40 minutes.

We were lucky enough to get row 1 which means more leg room, I napped most of the way, the sight of the motu speckled lagoon as we arrived at Aitutaki was sensational, the photo's we took dont do justice to the spectacular scenery. The landing was smooth at the tiny island airport and naturally we were greeted by another ukelele singer and another flower lei. Veia our host was waiting for us at the airport and took us to our resort which was only a short distance from the terminal, on arrival she showed us to our bungalow near the beach and although more rustic and aged we liked it more than the much more expensive one at Muri Beach.

We then decided to go for a walk a long the beach and then into the coconut groves along the shore, there were millions of holes everywhere most of which contained land crabs, apparently the locals dig them out and take them home, they keep them, feed them with fruit until they are big then eat them. It seems that they are being eaten to extinction just like the Coconut Crabs were. Eventually the mosquito swarms drove us back onto the beach where we found a large Hermit Crab, and witnessed a Heron eating a fish on the shore, as we watched a cat flew out of the trees and came within inches of nabbing him or the fish.

It was then time to head to restaurant nearby, it was called the Boat Shed and was decked out in a nautical theme (naturally) the food was excellent the service good and the beer cold. It was dark and overcast as we stumbled back to the bungalow and we decided to stop at the bar for a beer or two and a chat with the owners Moeau and Veia who are sweet people. Veia has managed to get us on a Lagoon cruise tomorrow, which is one of the reasons why we came here.

Got up early and walked to a nearby cafe for a big breakfast it was excellent and good value by Cook Islands standards, we then returned to the resort to wait for the cruise people to collect us at 10am, when they arrived we jumped in the back of an ancient looking flat bed truck picking up other couples from various locations on the way to the harbour where our canary yellow boat awaited.

Due to the strong winds snorkelling was unfortunately off the program so the first stop was Honeymoon Island, we were actually dropped on a sandbar out in the middle of the lagoon and had to walk to the island, the water surrounding us was an amazing aquamarine colour, that I have never seen before. The island was crawling with little hermit crabs and a number of baby gulls all fluff hiding under the vegetation, we then had a snack which included home made banana cake which rocked. We then climbed back on the boat for the 35 minute trip to One Foot Island on the way we passed a couple of islands where they a filming a reality show called shipwrecked.

On arriving at the island we had an hour to wander around before lunch, the island had nothing on it but chickens and the water was a little cold although I still took a dip. Lunch was great and bountiful, local delicacies as well as familiar foods, after lunch we were told we would be staying on the island for another hour, by now we were both bored out of our skulls, ended up passing the time by catching hermit crabs and having races, my crabs were all dogs.

Finally it was time to return, bit disappointing in the end, certainly not worth $65 each, easy way to make money take 20 or so people to an island and leave them there for 3 hours. We got back to our bungalow at about 4pm, after a shower and some rest we headed back to the Boat Shed for dinner, the pasta was good.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Hermit crabHermit crab
Hermit crab

Right on the beach near the bungalow
Tour boatTour boat
Tour boat

Aitutaki Harbour

18th November 2008

love that turqoise water - bloody didnt see a tropical beach until 2006 at cape tribulation and guess what - it was raining and overcast - cant wait until i can finally go snorkelling on a coral reef - did it on that trip but not near a beach - out on the barrier reef

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