Paradise in the Pacific

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Oceania » Cook Islands » Rarotonga
November 23rd 2008
Published: November 26th 2008
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An apology before you read this blog entry for those of you back in the UK probably enjoying some fairly miserable late autumn weather. The photos in this blog could make you extremely sick!!

Day 139: Saturday 15th November - The longest day I've ever had

When I woke up this morning I was in Pakiri Beach, north of Auckland. Having spent the morning getting back to Auckland on the bus, I spend the afternoon catching up on a few things on the internet. In the late afternoon I catch a bus to the airport for my 7.15pm flight to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. The flight takes 5 hours arriving at ten past midnight on Saturday (ie 19 hours before it set off in Auckland)!! I've crossed the international date line, and instead of being 13 hours ahead of the UK, I'm now 10 hours behind. On the flight with me are numerous people cometing in an international out-rigging (kayaking to you and me) tournament held on the island over the next few days. The teams are from all over the pacific-rim.....Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Hawaii. Maybe I'll catch a race??

Ever since I saw a photo of Aitutaki lagoon (Aitutaki being one of 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands) I had to build this into my trip. After 4 months travelling fairly quickly through Latin America it made sense to build it in as an oportunity to chill out, recharge the batteries ahead of travelling through Australasia. The Cook Islands are specks of land, dotted across 2 million square kilometres of sea. To put it in context the land mass is less than half the size of Tyne & Wear in the UK (one of the smallest counties) located in an area of sea 8 times the size of the UK. Less than 20,000 people live on the islands. The islands take their name from the great explorer Captain James Cook even though he only discovered one of the 15 islands.

Arriving in the airport on Rarotonga, the main island and home to half the population of the Cook Islands I'm not even sure that I have a bed for the night. I'd e-mailed a place when I was in Auckland a few hours before (or should that be after!!), but don't know if they've received it. I find a representative of the hostel in the airport terminal and although they haven't got me down they have one last bed in a dormitory which I can have. I later discover that you are supposed to have prior accomodation before you are allowed into the Cook Islands, not that they ever checked coming through immigration. So off we head in a minivan across the island to Vara's on Muri lagoon where I'll be staying for the next 4 nights. On the way to the hostel see two fat mama's on a scooter obviously drunk swaying from side to side on the road.......we pass them and then looking out of the rear window I see them fall off, lying in a heap in the middle of the road!! Welcome to Rarotonga!

After getting some sleep I wake up for the second time running on a Saturday morning. Spend the first part of the morning just getting my bearings around the Muri lagoon area. First I'm more than happy with the hostel and the location. Despite some dodgy reviews in guidebooks and from guests who'd stayed there I have no complaints. My dorm room opens out on to a deck area where there are sun loungers and hammocks, which in turn looks out across Muri lagoon, probably the best location on the island, and all for $22NZ per night (about 9 pounds)....what a result! Also in the morning I explore the possibility of hiring a scooter, the quintessential mode of transport on this island. Its going to be $25NZ (10 pounds) to hire for a day, but I may need a Cook Island driving license. I catch the bus around the island from Muri lagoon (in the South-East of this oval shaped island) to the main town Avarua in the north of the island, to check this out at the police station. It turns out that I do need a Cook Island license which involves a driving test around the block and costs $25NZ to issue the licence and take the test. Because I haven't got a scooter with me I can't take the test now, and the police station is closed tomorrow, so it will be Monday now that I'll hire a scooter to explore the island. Despite having second thoughts about whether its worth it for $50NZ (20 pounds) I nevertheless fill in the paperwork, pay for the license and the test.

Having now wasted an entire morning looking into getting a scooter I decide that I need some chill time on the beach so catch the bus back around to Muri lagoon. Now a comment here about the bus drivers on the Cook Islands - the people on the islands are so friendly and laid back but my experience of the bus drivers in Rarotonga are that they're an unfriendly, bad tempered bunch, quite the opposite of the bus drivers in New Zealand. Back in Muri lagoon I take a walk along Muri beach taking it all in. I'm so pleased I decided to stay here as the location is stunning. In the afternoon, with the sun scorching I fall asleep in a hammock on the deck of the hostel overlooking the lagoon - what a life, I could get used to this. Waking up in the late afternoon after it has cooled off a little, I walk across the lagoon to Koromiri island. On the way across I get bitten by a fish! I get the shock of my life when I get bitten, as its totally unexpected.....are these waters piranha infested??? I later discover it was a trigger fish. Trigger fish are brightly coloured fish who get aggressive when they are breeding, to protect their nests. Getting bitten makes me wary about stepping in the water for the rest of my time on the Cook Islands. On Koromiri island I walk around the circumference of the island before spending time on the beach looking back across the lagoon to Muri beach and the mountains that rise above it, in awe of such a beautiful location. I think Muri lagoon is up there with Tulum beach, Mexico and Pakiri beach, New Zealand as the best beach locations I've ever been to.

I was going to go to an island night in the evening but can't be bothered. An island night consists of local dance and music, including a buffet. However, I just want to chill out and after getting fish and chips late in the afternoon I'm not hungry anyway. Instead I spend the evening chilling out with a beer in a hammock on the deck of the hostel. At about 10pm I'm done in, the heat has taken it out of me and retire for the night. The only bad thing about the day is that in my attempts to protect the aftershave I bought in duty free in Chile from getting smashed on the flight across by packing it well, I haven't packed it at all!!! Guess I'll have to fork out for another bottle begrudgingly!

Day 140: Sunday 16th November - The cross island hike

Awake early to do the cross island hike. Buses on a Sunday they only go in a clockwise direction around the island running at every 17 minutes past the hour from Vara's. Given the heat I want to do this as early in the morning as possible, so catch the first bus at a little after eight. Another girl in my dorm, Angel also wants to do the hike, so we set off on the bus together. The bus drops us off at around 9am on the north of the island. From here we walk along some of the back roads to the start of the hike, passing sone lush, tropical vegetation on the way. The vegetation is what I imagine South-East Asia to be like. I don't know why I make this comparison, having never been there before, but I do. I guess its passing banana trees, Paw-Paw trees and the like? The comparison is not far out according to Angel, who although from Melbourne has been to Thailand and says it is similar. Hardly surprising given that on a similar latitude to the north of Queensland Australia, we are well inside the tropics, being about 21 degrees south of the equator.

After hiking along the road for 20 minutes, we start the climb through the tropical forest to 'the Needle', which at 400m altitude, is the top of the hike. Although it takes only an hour to reach 'the needle' from being dropped off by the bus its as hard as any hiking I've done. Its like climbing Jack's beanstalk, with tree roots sticking out all the way up through the jungle. Even though its still only 10am its hot, very humid and despite only walking a maximum of 4km so far I'm done in. Once at the needle, so called as its a near vertical narrow strand of rock that rises about 50 metres from the surrounding land, you are offered amazing views across the island in all directions. You can see over the lush, mountainous interior, across to the coral lagoon which surounds the island, and then further out to the Pacific Ocean. Wow, the climb has been worth it even though it has been tough. At the needle, myself and Angel climb up the rock face part of the way using the chains that are attached to the the end is a precarious 200m sheer drop into the jungle below.

Walking down from 'the needle' is a tricky affair. The path isn't clearly marked and we end up getting lost. We're not the only ones, we catch up with a group from Australia who've also got lost. We end up follwing a white pipe which has been laid across the island. Its not the right way but as it takes us the right direction, heading south, we nevertheless follow it. Following the 'white pipe road' we encounter a very overgrown path, and walking isn't easy in the absence of a clear path and in the weather conditions. At the end we descend down to the road by sliding amongst some ferns. No matter how hard you try its almost impossible trying to stand up, so for a large proportion of the descent I spend it on my backside, sliding down the hill - great fun. At the end of the cross island hike (only 7km on the map but it feels like much more) you are supposed to be treated to the view of Wigmore's waterfall. However, when we arrive there the waterfall is non-existent due to the dry weather the island has experienced recently and its just a dirty pool of water.

Its now 1pm and we still have a 8km walk back to Muri beach. The buses don't start running again until 2pm, so its not worth hanging around waiting for one. Almost everything on the island shuts down on a Sunday, as its a deeply religious culture on the island. So, with a couple of stops for a very welcome drink and an ice-cream we start the 2 hour walk back along the south of the island, walking along Turoa beach on the way. Angel keeps encouraging me to continue, because I'm absolutely knackered. Us English can't walk in these conditions, they're so debilitating. Once back in the comfort of the hostel, I spend the rest of the afternoon in a hammock. I was going to get a kayak and paddle around the lagoon, but I have no energy so that'll have to wait for another day. Get the customary fish and chips and spend the rest of the evening chatting with Angel and Kirsty & Ani, a couple of Kiwi girls on summer vacation from university in Dunedin. In my day, university vacations involved working every hour to get some cash for the following times change! In the late evening we get a torrential rainfall, fortunately I'm in the dorm reading by this time......but I'm certainly not going back out for anything in the fear of being drowned, so go to bed instead!

Day 141: Monday 17th November - This week was supposed to be relaxing

I've decided overnight to knock the idea of getting a scooter on the head. At $50NZ for a day its expensive when I can cycle around the island for $12NZ instead. Its 32km around the island, but as its flat is manageable even in this heat. At 10am pick up my bike and cycle for an hour around to Avarua to go to the police station. On the way stop off at a couple of canoe stone circles which commemorate the journey made to New Zealand, a marae (an ancient open-air royal courtyard) and Para O Tane palace, the location for the signing of the treaty accepting the Cook Islands as a British protectorate in 1888. In Avarua I stop off at the police station to get my money back for the driving license. After getting this, I follow a driving test around the block. There is no way you can fail this test, it must take 5 minutes maximum, and I can keep up with them on my pushbike. I conclude that this is nothing more than a money making exercise for the Cook Islands government as most tourists seem to get a scooter. From Avarua I continue anti-clockwise around the island, stopping off at the national stadium, a one stand affair! I also fill my time by counting teh churches - 16 I get to and I'm sure there's more. Not bad for an island of no more than 10,000 people. I was planning to stop at some of the beaches on the west and south of the island, but as its overcast I decide not to and stopping only for an ice-cream at the same place as yesterday continue on to Muri lagoon, arriving back 4 hours after I began, at 2pm.

Although the overcast weather was welcome whilst cycling around, I now want the sun to come out. Spend an hour in a hammock waiting for it to do so, and as soon as it does I get up to get a kayak. As soon as I do, Kirsty and Ani come around the corner wanting me to sign for them taking a buggy ride around the island as they need someone who is over 21 - Me, a responsible guardian..... I feel old!! Having sorted the paperwork out with the rental agency down the road I walk along Muri beach to get a kayak. Its now nearly 4pm, so I only have a couple of hours out on the lagoon before I have to return it. In the lagoon I paddle across to Koromiri island to take a photo looking back across to the main island, then head north along the lagoon, passing Oneroa & Motupatu islands. The northern end of the lagoon isn't as nice as the southern end, as the lagoon is full of sea weed. Its also very shallow, and after getting grounded a few times I end up having to pull my kayak to deeper water a few times. I should have headed south to the other island that makes up the lagoon, Taakoka, but nevermind. Its been a pleasant enough couple of hours even though the sun has disappeared again. After spending all day exercising though, I'm shattered. This was supposed to be a realaxing week! The evening is spent chilling out in my favourite spot, the hammock, with a book and a beer....bliss!

Day 142: Tuesday 18th November- Flying to Aitutaki

After three days on Rarotonga its time to say goodbye as I'm flying this morning to Aitutaki, a 45 minute flight north of Rarotonga. I get the bus at 8.15am and arrive to the airport at 9am, via another unfriendly encounter with a bus driver. My flight is at 10.30 am so I had supposed that I was arriving at the right time to check-in. This however is the Cook Islands, and in the land of the laid-back islanders the check-in isn't open and the airport is deserted! At around 10am, someone turns up and I check-in and wait to fly to Aitutaki. Aitutaki is supposedly the jewel in the crown of the Cook Islands. Everyone who has been there says that you have to make sure its the last of the islands you visit, as after Aitutaki you'll be disappointed with the rest. Sitting on the plane for the short flight over I'm excited.

From my first view of Aitutaki I realise its special. The flight cuts in low over the lagoon, where the powder blue water is such a contrast to the dark blue of the Pacific. The lagoon is about 3 times the size of the main island, containing a sprinkling of 16 motu (deserted palm covered islets). We fly just above Akitua motu to land on the American built runway (in the second world war) on the north of Aitutaki. The airport must be the smallest I've ever been to. You walk into a small building, which is the arrivals,departure lounge and check-in all in one. The baggage conveyor is non-existent, you simply pick your bag off a trolley they wheel off the plane. Having got my bag, I look around the airport for my transfer. I'd only contacted my hostel the day before to book, and I don't know if they got my e-mail as at the extortionate $9NZ an hour (over 3 pounds) I wasn't going to check. Fortunately a woman approaches me, hands me a garland made of flowers to welcome me to the island - this must be a Polynesian custom as this happened in Easter Island as well - and we're off to the Tom's beac cottages. The location of the hostel is on the west of Aitutaki (shaped like a fish-hook), in the main town of Arutanga. Although there is a beach looking out on to the lagoon the location isn't quite as good as Rarotonga, but on the positive side I have a single room - and for only $25NZ per night (10 pounds).

I walk into the centre of town to get some lunch and some cereal for breakfast for the next couple of days. It takes 15 minutes to get to the centre and I must pass 4 churches on the way, including the oldest on the Cook Islands. Arutanga, the main town is a 'blink and you'll miss it affair'. Already Rarotonga feels like a bustling metrolpolis in comparison to the sleepy Aitutaki, a quarter of the size with a population of less than 2000. In the afternoon I chill out on the beach and by lying in the shallow lagoon, enjoying the gorgeous weather. In the evening walk along to the next village (collection of a few houses) at Amuri, to get a takeaway. In the takeaway I get talking to a friendly local girl, Memory who gives me a few tips on what to do. After an average meal I walk back to the hostel and spend the rest of the evening talking to the 4 girls I'm sharing the hostel with. Gemma, Adele & Lucy are from Bristol. Jenny must be older than my Mum - that's not old though Mum ; )! - and is from Bradford. They're all on Round the World trips like myself....Adele & Lucy are 3 weeks in, Jenny is 7 months in and Gemma is 11 months in, so we spend the evening swapping stories and discussing where we've been and where we're going. Its bed again at 10pm - the sun certainly takes it out of you.

Day 143: Wednesday 19th November - A cruise in Aitutaki Lagoon

On Gemma's recommendation I've booked a cruise on Aitutaki lagoon today with Teking. Its a small boat, visits 5 of the lagoons islands, lunch is great and Teking is a barrel of laughs. With this recommendation I'm looking forward to the day ahead. I get picked up at the hostel at 9.30am to transfer to the boat. At the wharf see Memory again, as she's Teking's sister-in-law. I guess on a small island like this everyone's connected like this. On the cruise I'm joined by 2 honeymooning couples and 2 elderly guys from the Canary islands. Our first stop after dropping our cook off on Maina island, is near a shipwreck in the lagoon to do some snorkelling. The snorkelling is good, the fish are plentiful and beautiful, and I see some live, purple coral. In trying to reach the shipwreck which isn't as near as it seems I get lost in amongst all the coral and it takes me an age to get back to the boat as I keep swimming up some dead ends where the coral doesn't allow you to pass through. Back on to the boat we sail a short while further before our second snorkelling stop. Here we see giant clams which must be 2-3 feet in length as they're bigger than my flipper. I don't spend that long in the water as I'm still tired after my first exertion in the water. After the second snorkel we land on our first island, Honeymoon island, a desert island with a few plam trees on the Southern end. We walk along the length of this beautiful island, before sailing the short distance across to Maina island for lunch.

Lunch is in a stunning setting. We're dining on a picnic table, placed just off the beach , just in the lagoon, the water lapping at our feet as we eat, palm trees behind us. We eat out of a cocunut leaf, lunch being tropical fruits, rice, bread, cocunut and tuna steaks - probably the best fish I've ever had, and I'm not normally a great fan of tuna. Just before we eat, Teking demonstrates how to shell a cocunut, and entertains whilst he shows us. After we've eaten, we all get involved in hermit crab racing, placing the tiny crabs in the middle of a circle drawn in the sand, the winner being the first crab that reaches the edge of the circle. Suffice to say, my crab's not that interested, and by the time it decides to get involved, the race has almost run its course! We pack up all the gear and head back across Maina island to the boat, and off into the lagoon for a third, and final snorkel.

The third snorkel is in amongst lots of beautifully bright coloured purple coral, with a host of tropical fish swimming around. After half an hour in the water its back into the boat, where we head towards Rapota island. This islet is volcanic, black igneous rocks lining the shoreline. It is also better known as 'Tiger island' from the channel 4 TV show Shipwrecked. Next to Rapota island is Moturakau island, better known as the rival 'Shark island'. Today we only have chance to visit Tiger island though, which is a bit of a shame. They have just finished filming the latest TV series the previous week, and there is still evidence of the camp on Tiger island, with a picnic bench left behind. After a short stay on Tiger island we sail on towards One Foot island. We have half an hour to chill out on the beautiful palm tree lined beach before we start heading back to the main island. On the way back, Teking points out Akaiami island, which is where planes used to land in lagoon just off shore. Sadly, Teking now seems to be in a rush to get back to Aitutaki. Everyone on the boat is enjoying it and are happy to stay out longer visiting more of the 16 islets but Teking is heading back to shore. The last part of the tour is the only real disappointment of a memorable day as it is rushed. Once back on Aitutaki at around 4pm, we are left at the wharf, probably the only un-picturesque part of Aitutaki for 15 minutes whilst Teking drives his boat for safe keeping somewhere on the island. Apart from this last hour, the day has been very special, snorkelling and cruising in the lagoon waters, which turns various shades of blue depending on which part of the lagoon you're in. The islands are the stereotypical deserted islands, beautiful sandy beaches, with palm trees behind.

Back on dry land I get a shower and then head along the street to get a takeaway in the same place as last night. Its a disappointing affair so I have to get an ice cream on the way back. Chocolate & Boysenberry - which becomes a daily ritual for the next 3 days, being so good. After getting food, I decide to look down the opposite end of town, to the Blue Nun cafe, which is supposed to be one of the better nightspots. However, when I arrive tonight is clearly not the night. The bar is empty, the barmaid and her friend I presume in deep conversation. It would be rude to interrupt to get a beer, so turn around and go back to the hostel, defeated in my efforts to enjoy some local culture. End a great day by reading for a few hours.

Day 144: Thursday 20th November - Kayaking in Aitutaki Lagoon

I wanted to get up early today to hire a bike to cycle around to the other end of the island to get a kayak. However, I can't drag myself out of bed this morning, and by the time I go to the rental company its 10am. There is no-one about so walk further along to the supermarket to get a sandwich for lunch - the steak sandwiches being another personal favourite whilst on Aitutaki. Return after 20 minutes to the rental company and this time there's someone around, so pick up my bike and off I go. I had considered getting a scooter, it only being $2.50 (1 pound) on Aitutaki to get a license. However, the ride must only be 6km to Ootu beach, so stick with the cheaper bike option.

It takes me half an hour riding on very flat roads around the island to get to Ootu beach. Here I stop at Samade on the beach to hire a kayak. Go for the half-day (4 hour) option, which means I have it until 3pm. I start paddling south-east initially passing the private Akitua island to land on Augarei island. Take a few quick photos here, and head on as the beach isn't great. Paddle further out into the lagoon along the shoreline of Augarei, stopping on the northern shore of the second island, Ee. Stop for lunch on the beach on Ee, and sunbathe reading a book for half an hour before it starts to rain, curtailing my planned stop on Ee. It works in my favour as I paddle up to the south-west corner of Ee, where there is a stunning deserted beach all to myself. I stop here for a while, in the scorching sun, my very own desert island all to myself......paradise. From Ee I paddle further south to Mangere island, my final stop of the day. I stop on the southern tip of Mangere, near to the eastern point of the lagoon. Mangere has a rocky/sandy beach, and with time pushing on only stop for 5 minutes to take photos. I've paddled about 3km out into the lagoon, so have a good way to get back, and only an hour left on my hire. It takes me the vast majority of the hour to get back to Aitutaki, stopping every few minutes to sunbathe, rest and take in the beauty of the lagoon, the water changing colour from turquoise to aquamarine to almost clear blue waters on the way.

Back on Ootu beach I get a drink, and sit back and look out to the lagoon. I think this must be one of the best spots on Aitutaki...its picture postcard perfect. After soaking it all in for half an hour, reflecting on an amazing day spent on the lagoon, I decide to have a nosy across on Akitua island. This is a private island, location of the upmarket Aitutaki Laggon resort - 500 pounds a night for the lagoon bungalows, and frequented by honeymooners (and the rich!). Over on the resort - which you have to get a boat across the 20 metre channel that separates it from the main island - I simply have to get a cocktail in the bar to make it worthwhile. The bar is in a great location, on a deck overlooking the lagoon. However, the cocktails are priced for the location and the clientele, being a extortionate $20NZ (8 pounds). Opt for a smoothie instead at half the price, and kick back relaxing and reflecting on a day which if anything has been even better than yesterday, and that takes some beating.

After nosying around the rest of the resort (yes it is a perfect honeymoon location), I hop on the boat and get back on my bike for the ride back around to my hostel. Simply have to stop off on the way for an ice cream and arrive back at Tom's bungalows at 5.30pm. I haven't got long to get ready for an island night I've booked on for. It starts at 7pm and is a 10 minute bike ride north along the beach at one of the posh hotels. The first part of the evening involves stuffing your face from the buffet, which as a backpacker I gladly oblige! I'm sharing a table with 3 Italian guys, one of whom says he's disappointed so far with Aitutaki.....must have been walking around with his eyes closed!! This place is paradise. After the buffet the island night starts. First up we're entertained by some fire dancers before the island warriors and girls take it in turns to dance to the drum beat, accompanied by a band of musicians. Towards, the end of the show they want some audience participation and unfortunately for me, I get chosen. So, in front of about 100 people I have to dance with a local girl (albeit a pretty one), she shakes her hips to the beat, and I have to shake my knees to the beat. It must be the longest minute of my trip so far....the music can't stop quick enough!!! At 9.30pm the show is over, and although I've had a couple of beers I'm okay to ride back along to the hostel. When I get there, everyone has gone to bed, so I do likewise.

Day 145: Friday 21st November - Just another day in paradise

I get up at 9 ish and finally after a few days of trying, hunt down the elusive Tom to arrange a transfer to the airport and pay my bill. My flight isn't until twenty to five so I have a full day still to enjoy Aitutaki. Whilst I still have the bike for a few hours I decide to cycle up to Maungapu, at 124 metres the highest point on the island. Its a 15 minute ride along and then takes another 10-15 minutes to climb up. Its worth it though as you get views over the lagoon in 3 directions, to the north, west and best of all out to the east where you can see some of the islets off the coast. I spend 10 minutes taking in the view on the top before returning my bike to Rino's rentals. The rest of the day I spend reading, eating before at 2.30pm I decide to go for one last walk along the beach. I walk so far along that by the time I get back to the hostel I'm in a mad rush to get a shower, pack my bag and be ready for my transfer at 3.45pm. Its so hot and humid that 5 minutes after my shower, my T-shirt is soaked in sweat - it was hardly worth it.

The flight is 45 minutes back to Rarotonga, and I'm sad to be leaving Aitutaki, but I've had a great few days and done all I wanted to do so I can't complain. Back on Rarotonga, its 5.30pm and I have 8 hours to kill before my return flight to New Zealand. I drop my bag at the fire station in the airport then start walking into town. It takes 30 minutes to reach Avarua. The atmosphere in town is good, the out-rigging tournament has just finished, and the wharf beside Trader Jacks is buzzing with people. Go into Trader Jacks and get some dinner, with the presentations going on in the background. After dinner take a short walk along to Staircase bar, where at 9pm there's another island night. Watch the show for an hour - its not quite as good as last night's on Aitutaki as there are no fire dancers this time around. After the show I walk back around to Trader Jack's for another beer. I was hoping I'd bump into someone from earlier in the week from Vara's in town but its not to be, and drinking on your own is never much fun so at 10.30pm I decide to call it a night and walk back along to the airport. In reality, I couldn't have spent much longer in town as being an international flight the usual Cook Island rules on check-in don't apply!

Day 146: Saturday 22nd November - Not much to say really

The title of today's blog entry say's in all really. I boarded a flight at 1.20am from Rarotonga to Auckland, so had an hour or so hanging about the airport. When I awoke from my four and a half hour flight it was 4.45am on Sunday morning having crossed the international date line.

What is worth saying is that the Cook islands in general, and Aitutaki in particular would have to be in a top 5 to date of my experiences so far on my travels. The days spent on Aitutaki lagoon were truly memorable and very,very special. Although I've packed a lot into my week, I still feel relaxed and ready to tackle the rest of Oceania. Its also given me the opportunity to reflect on a brilliant first 5 months travelling, I've seen so much so far and yet there's so much I still want to see. I don't regret not taking the week to chill out on a beach for the entire time. I've done that for some of the time, and I'm not one to sit on a beach for days on end as I get restless.

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