Circumnavigating Rarotonga

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Oceania » Cook Islands
June 22nd 2014
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: -21.2318, -159.763

This morning, after catching up on missed sleep we set off in our hire car to drive around the island. Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands but it only takes an hour at the most to drive right round it. The road runs along the beach past many resorts and villas. Needless to say Tourism is the biggest industry here.

We headed for Muri Lagoon where Fletcher knew there was a great spot for lunch. This is the restaurant which overlooks the beach and fronts the Sailing Club, appropriately called Sails.This is a beautiful place. The lagoon is protected by a coral reef and the water is crystal clear. It is a half moon shape and the sand is white and thick. We walked down and sat in front of Sails for a while just taking in the scenery. Many young families, from two or three resorts along the beach, were taking advantage of the shallow water, as the tide was out. We watched the attempts at paddling surfboards and saw some of the glass bottomed boats heading out to the reef for viewing the fish and coral.

A leisurely stroll took us down to where a small stream entered the water and we came across some of the Kiwi officials also enjoying the tranquility of the setting. After a short chat and compulsory banter we walked back to Sails and settled into a table overlooking the beach. We were a little disconcerted when we were told that as it was Sunday no alcohol was served until 6pm. Cook Islands have many Christian churches which we passed on our drive around the island. Apart from a Catholic Cathedral there are lots of Adventist and Mormon churches as well as several just stating Christian. Most things are closed on Sunday and everyone goes to church somewhere.

Lunch was very pleasant. We had what was called a Bos'un's basket each which consisted of fried fish, calamari rings, prawn fingers accompanied by small spring rolls and samosas withe the ubiquitous chips. Very delicious and very generous. We each had a fruit juice based Mocktail which was very nice. With good food, great views and serenity thrown in it was a great way to while away an hour or two.

When we resumed our drive it did not take long to arrive at the main town again. What a contrast to yesterday. Hardly a person in sight, all the shops closed, it was a veritable ghost town. We stopped at the port to inspect the patrol boat which Australia had donated to them, the Cook Islands Navy! A local on one of the yachts told us it hadn't been used for a couple of months as the government couldn't afford the fuel!

We then came back to the hotel and I headed down to the beachfront to have a swim. The tide was well in but the sea was much rougher than it had been yesterday. Before going in I was warned to wear reef shoes and be careful of the strong current. Excellent advice. I donned a pair of reef shoes and waded in but as soon as I swam further out I could feel the rip pushing me sideways. I tried to dig in to the rocky bottom but in the end I went with the flow and surfed into the sandy beach about 200metres from where I entered. I decided that today was not the best swimming day and indeed later I found out it was a king tide and the sea was still pounding on the rocks as we headed to bed..

We returned to the Spaghetti House for dinner. This is one of the resort's restaurants, situated at the main entrance on the round island road. We had dined there last night and had had an excellent Crab and Prawn Ravioli, albeit the pasta was more than al dente. Then we had joined a large table of the NZ officials. Tonight we met up with Marsh and Josephine from Guam and Keith and Jeanette from NZ. Another excellent night. Fletcher had a huge serve of spaghetti and meatballs while I enjoyed the Cannelloni.

One of the best aspects of a Championship like this is catching up with people from all over the Pacific whom we have had great times with in the past and, though we don't see them often, we are still friends and can enjoy each other's company once more.

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