Aitutaki lagoon cruise

Editor’s note: Featured image photo credit to Nicole Smith. One of the great people on our cruise.

We had the best breakfast during our time in the Cook Islands at Etu Moana. Fresh ground local coffee filtered in French press with fresh local baked breads and pastries. Fresh local fruit, dragonfruit, pineapple, star fruit, coconut, bananas and papaya. Sliced cheeses, ham, tomatoes, eggs, yogurt and cereals with juices or coconut water. And more I do not even remember.

We were picked up by Sean our captain and his first mate Joel. There were ten of us on a very seaworthy metal boat with a big Saltwater Yamaha. A full awning to keep us from “frying like bacon” and the itinerary of seven island tour in this incredibly stunning lagoon. Sean was a great captain and historian. We went to the first island where Survivor was filmed.

The other side of the island proved to be breathtaking with some wildlife.

Another just small sand island and swim. Yellowfin tuna preparation.

One Foot Island idyllic views and coconut palms and Giant Trevally. More about them later.

Photo credit above to Nicole Smith

Another island and lunch stop. Sean has the tuna grilled with hot dogs, potato salad, Cole slaw, fresh watermelon and passion fruit with the best cooked bananas I ever ate. Sean played ukulele and sang. It was Polynesian heaven.

Photo credit above to Nicole Smith

On to snorkeling, with Giant Trevally being fed at times too closely to me by Joel. Everyone got a kick out of seeing me try to miss the 50-100 lb fish. Also the giant clams.

A return to Etu Moana and Mariella got our passports and they were stamped from One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Sean and Joel were great. This lagoon seems like a seventh wonder of the world.

On to BBQ at Tamanu and Nick Henry the manager welcomed everyone personally island style. We had some of our tour group at the Q. Greatest day. Peace out Tres

Rarotonga to Aitutaki

A morning return of e-bikes and a super easy shuttle into the airport had us checked in on the way out of Raro. The flight was great and unlike the littler plane, that held 12, this plane held 36 people and had a stewardess.

Our hotel had a shuttle for us organized and beautiful leis to wear. We are staying at Etu Moana Villas and we are very close to the beach, pool and breakfast. The villa is the most luxurious of our stay.

The grounds are beautiful.

We went for lunch down the beach at Tamanu Restaurant. Two beautiful pieces of Mahi. Down for nap and then I snorkeled from our place. OMG. Let the pictures do the talking.

We had tried to book a lagoon cruise for Sunday. Not an easy task in the Cook Islands. We did get a reservation with Kia Orana Charters. We also made a reservation that Sunday for BBQ night at Tamanu.

Had the best local pizza at Local Grinds with Sam and Beverly. Two lovely people. Sam gave us only his second homegrown pineapple with some passion fruit and bananas. All we had to promise was to return the top.

Peace out Tres

Atiu to Rarotonga

An early breakfast and then a 1 hour mtn bike ride around the main town going out to the harbor. The gears were rusted into the middle ring of the crank but it was great.

I went by the Maroa bush bar where impromptu homemade beer parties take place. The Cook Islands have a staunch religious back ground and the family we hiked the cave with could not leave on Christmas Day until 1 pm in the afternoon. Air Rarotonga runs on religious times during the holidays.

Editor’s note: a few more images of Aitu.

A great but, bittersweet send off from the general manager of Atiu Villas. The signage at the Aitu airport.

Image or two from plane.

Back to Muri Beachcomber we went like clock work after getting our bags to ride to hotel.A snorkel in our lagoon. Rather disappointing. A plan would start today about tomorrow. Still beautiful as ever. Lunch at Pacific Resort.

A dinner of coconut lamb curry from the night market. Delicious again! Peace out Tres dog

Rarotonga ride and sea scooter

I had found a local provider with a fat tire e-bike and I wanted to ride half a day with Mariella and later that afternoon I would go with Ariki Adventures to spot on Rarotonga and go on a turtle safari with a Yamaha sea scooter. The bike was huge and difficult at first for Mariella. The e motor lurched a little when you started out. I swapped the e bike I had with her and realized quick she needed me to ride behind her to protect her from the traffic in the left hand lane. Not our usual custom.

We made some stops and then we found the Tropical botanical garden. This made Mariella’s day. They seemed to specialize in ginger plants, helliconia plants and tropical palm trees that were clearly not native. Beautiful place.

We stopped at a snorkeling spot called the Fruits of Rarotonga. We passed the Queen’s representative’s residence. The road was just so cool next to this great beaches and water.

I motored back in with Mariella had a good lunch and readied for the turtle safari.

I was 63 years old and I had snorkeled for 31 plus years and had never used one of these things. I regret not renting the Go Pro that mounted on the sea scooter. I had my camera but it appeared it was set on something not auto.

A quick class to run it. The sea scooter was for use in an unfavorable current as we went back through a passage back toward the sand bar as we started. Pictures from the guides. Picture of us using sea scooter

OMG. The biggest Moorish Idols I had ever seen. All kinds of fish then hawksbill turtles feet from me looking at me. Dozens of them. Incredible. Big green moray eel. I was able to correct some of my turtle pics. Amazing experience and Ariki Adventures was also excellent.

Muri Lagoon.

A lovely meal at the Nautilus Resort.

Aitutaki tomorrow. Peace out Tres

Christmas Day on Atiu

We understood that the Catholic Church would have Christmas Day service at 9 am. What we did not understand was the mass and singing would be in English and in Maori. The dialect used by Cook Islanders. There was a baptism that morning as well. We were the only foreigners in the church and were graciously welcomed. The Maori singing with male and female harmonies accompanied by electric organ and 8 string ukulele was enchantingly beautiful and local.

We returned for lunch and some swimming and rest. Reading on our deck with the great grounds around us.

Another great dinner at the villas.

Aitu on the cave tour day

We met our guide, Ben, for a cave walk into the Anatakitaki cave in search of the indigenous, cave dwelling and echo locating bird only found on Aitu. The Kopeka bird. The walk was hard while de scrambled across sharp old coral rock that was once the ocean floor. The cave was amazing.

It had openings to the outside and then went back into itself.

Ben. Sweetest man. Great guide.

We went further into the cave and saw where the Kopeka bird lived. We turned off our lights and could here there echo locating sounds made. It was a life list walk.

We walked out and Ben took us to Super Brown for lunch takeaway.

We went back for swim, shower and nap. Another great community meal. This place is amazing. Peace out Tres

Rarotonga to Aitu, Cook Island

Ate at the night market last night. Coconut curry lamb. Fab!

It had rained all night and was not sure we would leave. I was assured that we would due to the higher wind capacities of the smaller Air Rarotonga planes used for Island hops.

Aitu has 376 people living on it and it was a Pacific paradise. Roger the owner of Aitu Villas picked us up and showed us around the island as went to the villas.

The grounds were beautiful. We ate some lunch from the pantry in the room. Napped then went with my snorkel stuff to the coast down the hill and Mariella walked into town.

Tried to snorkel but not much. A family staying at Atiu Villas had rented the car and shoved me in. A great community meal of Wahoo. Cave tour tomorrow.

Peace Tres

Tampa, Florida to Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Editor’s note: this was how I wanted to blog my trip and I hope the pictures will paint a better picture. Will blog next couple of days.

We had a big flights out from Tampa to Dallas and to LA before getting on the Air New Zealand flight to Rarotonga. The flight was bumpy but the crew was great. The plane in juxtaposition to the tower.

The mountains, the ocean with tree and a Cook Islanders New Zealand Army military cemetery next to the airport.

Our room and grounds to the Muri Beachcomber and the Muri Lagoon. The featured image.

It’s raining and we are cooling out after a 28 hour day, half way around the world. It is Paradise.

Peace out Tres