CRUISING IN PARADISE - SEPTEMBER 2004
After departing from Huahine, we had a full day at sea to get to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are located at the heart of South Pacific: they lie in the centre of the Polynesian Triangle, flanked to the west by The Kingdom of Tonga and the Samoas and to the east by Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia. Cook Islands consist of 15 islands, scattered over an area the size of India with a total population of approximately 18000 souls, no bigger than a small New Zealand country town...
Rarotonga, whose name stems from «raro» meaning «down» and «tonga» meaning «south», is the youngest island in the Cook Islands southern group, and stands 4500 meters above the ocean floor. The volcano has a diameter of roughly 50km, at a depth of 4000 meters, and its highest peak is 658 meters above sea level. The island is surrounded by a lagoon, protected by a reef distant some hundred meters, which then slopes steeply to deep water. Rarotonga is 32 km in circumference, and is the centre of the Cook Islands! We took the famous and convenient low cost «Island Bus» to make the tour of the Island (it takes one hour if you don't stop), using one of the two main roads on Rarotonga - the circle Ara Tapu sealed road, through the villages and past the beaches...
"AVARUA on the north coast, minutes from the international airport, is the administration centre of the Cook Islands, the main town on the island and the commercial centre of the Cook Islands. During the business hours, it has a busy atmosphere with shops, banks, cafes and visitor facilities. It is also the main port of the Islands"
"TREES and cabins on the way to a beach"
"MURI BEACH on the east coast is most probably the best beach in Rarotonga, and for sure the busiest stretch for tourism on the island, with lots of restaurants, beach bars and crowds on Sundays, when the locals get together. Its protected lagoon is good for swimming, and the four small islets within the reef are interesting to explore. Unfortunately, there was a rather cold wind blowing and we opted for taking a beer inside the beach bar from a beachfront resort rather than swimming in the beautiful turquoise waters of the lagoon..."
"FLOWERS - Rarotonga has some beautiful gardens on the side of the road"
"ARA TAPU circle road"
"BUS STOP - The «Island Bus» took a little bit to come... and it shows!"
"BACK IN AVARUA with the Island peaks in the background"
"TAHITIAN PRINCESS anchored at the distance, waiting for the tenders to bring passengers back"