I was lucky enough to escape the cold New Zealand winter for a warm, tropical paradise for a few days earlier this year.
Rarotonga met all the requirements that I needed in a holiday; warm weather, beautiful water that you could swim in at that time of year and breathtaking scenery that really needs no filter what soever (just check out the photos, no filters there, just pure nature)
From local markets, to snorkelling with beautiful fish to sipping on cocktails at the bar every night, read all about my adventures here.
Day One: Let the adventure begin:
Having woken up to a grey and rainy day, I was glad I was escaping to somewhere much warmer, even if it was just a few hours plane ride away from New Zealand, it’s crazy how much the weather and atmosphere changes from a short plane distance away.
Looking out of the plane window as we descended into the island of Rarotonga we were greeted with greenery, mountains, sandy white beaches and a beautiful reef surrounding the island.
We arrived at our resort, which we actually had seen from the window of our plane and checked in and scoped out our room and hotel area. We made our way down to the pool and bar area which overlooked the ocean and as we had arrived in the afternoon flight, sunset was just a few moments away.
We took this opportunity to grab a cocktail and some much-needed food and we spent the rest of the evening soaking up a tropical island night, with the sound of waves crashing in the background and the sunset casting over the land.
Day 2: Explorations:
The second day of our trip saw us explore what this island has to offer. We took the bus into town, a short five to ten minute bus trip, no such thing as traffic jams here which is quite a relief when you come from such a congested city.
One thing I did really need whilst in town was a good pair of ear plugs, no not to block out any snoring but instead the neighbouring roosters in the farmland around the resort who liked to crow at nearly every hour of the night.
After not really shopping up a storm it was time for food, we went to Cafe Salsa for lunch, I went for a sandwich with fish (although in the end I think they gave me chicken) but either way it was delicious with the lovely addition of pawpaw salsa and lemon mayo which nicely complimented the sandwich. The orange juice was very refreshing as the day was just starting to warm up.
Arriving back at our hotel we decided we needed to try out snorkelling as we were going on a snorkelling cruise later in the week. Unfortunately no underwater camera photos could really do anything justice but the sea was clear, warm and full of colour and life. There is something so freeing and calming about immersing yourself into the world of sea life, swimming alongside them instead of seeing videos of them swimming or seeing them through a glass window tank.
All that swimming worked up an appetite and for dinner we checked out the other restaurant our resort had on site, my sister and I shared a pizza, fries and a salad. That meal was probably fit for a family of four but hey, we were on holiday and on island time, it’s all about relaxation and treating yourself.
Day 3: Big Fish and Plenty of Laughs:
Though we had hoped for warmer weather for this day, Captain Tama’s provided us with a lot of great memories and laughs to brighten up the day.
We arrived at the stunning Muri Lagoon for a day of lagoon cruising, swimming and snorkelling and cultural displays. The boats took us out to the deeper parts of the lagoon where we swam with some amazing fish and even saw a shy moray eel. I was hoping for a turtle or small reef shark but the array of fish we saw was still spectacular, the staff even threw food into the water next to you as you swam which was met by plenty of squeals by my sister and I, much to the amusement of the staff and those on board the boats.
After the swim we arrived at a small island where we would have our lunch and cultural shows. Lunch was some freshly cooked fish, rice, bread, coconut and papaya amongst other things. The others on the cruise were generally from New Zealand or Australia so there was a nice sense of a home away from home as we all sat down to eat and listen to the staff play some music.
We were treated to a coconut show which at first we saw how fast they can climb coconut trees AND just how hard and fast the coconuts fall from the tree. We learnt how to cut open a coconut (which I still need to try) and also the many uses of the coconut, as the tree is ‘the tree of life’ for its many uses. The sarong tying show was met with laughs and giggles as the captains embarrassed the poor souls picked out of the audience for the show.
Afterwards we were quickly allowed to explore the island before we cruised back to the beach of Muri Lagoon and parted ways back to our hotel.
Though I had fish for lunch, fish was on the menu for dinner for me again, as was a cocktail!
Day 4: Markets and Mermaid-ing:
On Saturdays the Punanga Nui Markets are bustling with life, culture, food and colour, making for a very interesting visit if you want to check out a local ‘must do’.
Though cinnamon donuts and french pastries aren’t exactly ‘Island food’ they were extremely tasty so keep an eye out for the bakery stall if you are visiting. There is also lots of fresh fruit and vegetables available and a tasty smoothie hut just further down from the main market that is adjoined to a fish and chips shop if you are looking for a refreshing drink.
After the markets we came back to our resort for some more snorkelling, it definitely became one of our favourite activities to do on the island. This day was particularly hot so it was refreshing to get in the ocean and release your inner mermaid as you swam amongst the pretty fish and coral.
Later that night we were treated to a cultural night at our hotel, full of dancing and singing and of course some good food (and yes there was fish!). Always make sure to try out some of the local food and local culture, it makes for an exciting time and makes for some memorable moments (as in audience participation, glad I was sitting in the dark where you couldn’t see me!)
Day 5: The last full day:
Our last full day of living on island time and living the tropical island dream.
It was a lot more of a cooler day so snorkelling sadly wasn’t on the agenda for us. Instead we took the opportunity to further explore the beach past our resort and made our way past other resorts and get different views and perspectives of the landscape that we would not have seen at our resort.
We then spent the afternoon back at our resort at the beach and our hotel room before we had our last happy hour drink and dinner and island sunset.
The sunset on the last night was a rather amazing sight, you don’t get sunsets like this back home.
It was a memorable night to say the least, the first surprising moment of the night was when a whale swam past just past the reef that surrounds the hotel. Unfortunately it was too difficult to get a photo, but just imagine a whale in the distance while the sun is setting, casting a beautiful pink glow over the ocean and over the land. The whale would come up for air and you could see the whale expelling the air. Words cannot simply describe the moment. We had been waiting to see either a turtle or a shark on our snorkelling adventures but to see a whale was rather amazing, especially for those like my sister who had not seen a whale in real life.
Sadly this magical night had to take a turn, and that resulted in me feeling rather ill, with a suspected upset tum. Zero sleep, endless trips to the toilet, and thoughts about just wanting to go home was how I spent my last night in Rarotonga but I won’t let it dampen the experience as all the good things definitely out weighed it.
Day Six: Home:
Having somehow survived the night, I managed to eat a tiny piece of bread roll for ‘breakfast’ and somehow also managed to survive a bumpy 10 minute bus trip back to the airport. Not ideal to have your upset and nauseous feeling stomach jiggling and bouncing around.
And just to add to this dilemma, the flight back home was longer than the flight coming in to Rarotonga and all I had were some gossip magazines and my music on my iPod to keep me company and keep my mind off my stomach.
Upon arriving back home in the plane it was definitely met with a sigh of relief from both myself and my sister.
Though it is always nice going away and escaping the crazy city life or the weather, there is something extremely comforting about seeing your city’s airport outside the plane window.
Rarotonga offered many enjoyable moments that were a real treat to all of my senses and a real treat to my camera roll that was lacking in some scenic beauty.