Friday, April 26, 2013

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - Day 16 Rarotonga

Sunday Day 16 – Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Val and I were up bright and early this morning to watch our arrival at Rarotonga.  It was a beautiful sunny morning except for the large cloud hanging over the island, there was even a rainbow hanging over one end.  We were soon anchored outside the harbor and the tenders were being unloaded as today would be another tender day as the harbor was much too small for a ship of our size.  The island looked wonderful and we couldn’t wait to get ashore.  Today we were going on Captain Tama’s Muri Lagoon trip arranged by Barb of our Cruise Critic roll call.

Arriving in Roratonga

Tendering gets underway.

Before I go on with our day, here is a little background on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  It is the largest and most well-known of the thirteen Cook Islands.  A quote from the guide book says. “It is doubtful a more idyllic island paradise exists – all the alluring scenes described in the ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ can be found in this round Garden of Eden.  The town retains the nostalgic atmosphere of an old South Sea trading port and has been fairly unaffected – even with a rise in tourism during the past few decades.  There are no high-rise hotels, no beach buggies and no traffic jams.”  From our viewpoint from the balcony as the island came into view, it looked like this might be true.  The island has mountains in the interior which slope down to the beaches and lagoons.  The language is English and the currency is the New Zealand dollar.

After a quick breakfast, we met our Cruise Critic “roll call” group and were shortly on our way to the tender for the short trip ashore.  Once on the pier, the open-air buses from Captain Tama’s were waiting for us and we were soon on our way to Muri Lagoon.  It was about a half hour’s drive to Muri Lagoon where we checked-in and climbed aboard one of the two glass bottom boats that were waiting for us.  After a scenic cruise across the lagoon we reached a spot where we would be able to snorkel.  This would be our first try at snorkeling so we were pretty excited.  It turned out to be a wonderful experience, swimming in the warm, clear water of the  lagoon and seeing all the beautiful fish and coral was amazing.  The guides on the boat were great, giving out information on the lagoon, the local area and culture, as well as entertaining us by singing and playing the ukulele.

After snorkeling we climbed back on the boats and made our way back across the lagoon to a motu (small island) where lunch was set up for us.  It was an excellent lunch of fresh fruit, salads and barbecued fish.  After lunch we were free to wander around, swim and enjoy the beautiful setting.  The entertainment consisted of local music, a demonstration on the process of getting the milk and meat out of coconuts, and a few other things.  Val and I spent most of the time exploring the island, wading in the lagoon, and of course taking many, many pictures.  There were others in the lagoon snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and enjoying the beautiful day. There were also several local dogs really having a great time wading in the water and trying to catch fish. The weather was absolutely perfect with mild temperatures and humidity.  Being near the equator it was pretty warm in the sun, but it was very pleasant in the shade provide by the many trees and a stiff breeze also cooled things down.

Lunch is being prepared for us.
We're not sure what these slug like things were, but they were everywhere in the shallow water and we had to be careful not to step on them

All too soon it was time to catch our boat back to shore and make our way back to the ship.  Back on the dock we walked around and looked at the booths set up by locals selling their wares.  By that time it was getting late and we didn’t want to miss the last tender back to the ship.  Being Sunday, most of the restaurants and shops were closed as even the allure of tourist dollars didn’t make them break with tradition.
The Westerdam anchored in the harbor.

Back on the ship we washed the salt off ourselves and our gear and then rested until dinner.  As I say every day – after a good dinner and time in the casino, it was off to our room ending another great day.  I will say that Val had a good night in the casino, I was jealous.  Tomorrow is our last sea day before our string of ports.

We say goodbye to Rarotonga as the sun sets.

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