Air Tahiti flies only once a week to Rarotonga with a limited number of passengers due to the length of the flight and the weight of the aircraft - there are only 28 passengers on board. We land in Avarua, the capital town of the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is the main - and with a bit more than 10,500 inhabitants the most populous - island of the Cooks. The Cook Islands are in free association with New Zealand and therefore we switch language again.
The British navigator Captain James Cook arrived first in 1773 and again in 1777 - he named the islands 'Hervey Islands'. The name 'Cook Islands', in honour of Cook, appeared about fifty years later on a Russian naval chart.
The ringroad is approximately 30 kilometres long. There are two public buses which circle the island clock- and anticlockwise. It takes us about 20 minutes to get from the airport to Muri Beach, where our accomodation is.
At Muri Beach (pic. 3) the lagoon, which surrounds the island, is at its widest and deepest. The following five days for us are snorkeling, reading, canoeing and taking kitelessons. Right next to our hotel there is a Night-Foodmarket with many different foodstands. We appreciate the get-together of locals and tourists.
We hire a car and circle the island twice and visit the maritime museum. It's there that we see a living stonefish and again we know why we always wear beachshoes in the waters of the South Pacific.
After five days we fly to Aitutaki, the second most visited island of the Cooks - especially by honeymooners. Approximately 2,000 people live on this second most populated island. Aitutaki is said to be the most beautiful lagoon on this planet. The island's size is only 18 sqkm - but the lagoon triples this size. The approach after a forty-minute flight is stunning - greens and blues in all different shades. Wow!
We stay in a bungalow right on the beach (pic. 4). Once again - a great choice! There is only one other Swiss couple in the other bungalow. We appreciate their company very much - but also the privacy of the two bungalows.
With our two scooters we explore Aitutaki and do our daily shopping. The supermarkets are a bit bigger than the ones in Maupiti, but still quite limited. In every supermarket we ask for fresh tuna. Not easy - but we don't give up. Someone tells us that we should ask for Kimberly at the gasstation. Her husband is a divemaster and might also be a fisherman. Good hint - the following day we get two kilos of fresh tuna. We enjoy Sashimi on our veranda with an excellent view on the lagoona. Great!
You can't leave Aitutaki without having done one of the lagoontours. First, Kuna takes us to an excellent snorkelingspot (pic. 5) and indeed: we have never seen such giant clams before and the water is crystal clear with plenty of colorful fish. We are overwhelmed.
A long sandbank takes us onto honeymoon island. Kuna explains that there are normally many weddings but today doesn't seem to be a good day for weddings. We are almost the only people on the island. After another magnificent snorkelingstop, we enjoy a delicious lunch on 'One Foot Island'. During lunch, Kuna tells us vividly about the shootings of the US-Reality-Show Survivor back in 2006. The British version of the show - shipwreck - was filmed here even six times.
We enjoyed our stay on Aitutaki very much - we could have stayed longer. But on the other hand: after almost 6 weeks relaxing in the South Pacific we are looking forward to a bit more active travels.
Kiwis - we are coming...