Aitutaki, Cook Islands
26.11.2010 - 28.11.2010 34 °C
I was in heaven.... Actually, I am just trying to summon up the words to describe my feelings of this place but vocabulary fails me. I am sure i didn’t dream it, or did I? I really was in this special place, wading through the most beautiful shallow lagoon to my own private sand island. Just lying there, just me, on the soft coral sand trying take it all in, the detail, surrounded by little tropical islands. Gobsmacked by the natural beauty and tranquillity. Pure, natural feelings. I am in the middle of the South Pacific in this magical place on my way around the world. I was smitten. I will remember these feelings for the rest of my life.
Aitutaki is an atoll in the Cook Islands about 200km, a 1 hour flight, North of Rarotonga. From the tiny little ‘hairdryer’ planes you have the most incredible views of the 15 or so, mostly uninhabited, paradise islands and coral reefs. Oooooooo I was just a little excited to be here. Peeps from the UK may have heard of this place already as this is where the annoying teen ‘reality’ show Shipwrecked was filmed. I used to catch this show sometimes on Sunday mornings just to see the stunning scenery behind the tedious goings ons!!! Never thought I would actually be stepping on Shark and Tiger islands myself, let alone the other islands that were even more beautiful.. Survivor was also filmed on some of the small islands in the Aitutaki lagoon. One of the sand islands I walked to was ‘Exile Island’ I think where contestants were sent like a naughty step or something.
I took a boat taxi across the lagoon to visit some of the islands on the fringe of the lagoon. We stopped on the way for some snorkelling which, although not the best in the world in terms of coral or fish, was in the clearest water i have ever seen in my life and there were some impressive giant clams under the water. Every way I turned it was just clear, perfect turquoise water, white sand, palm trees. Are you getting the picture yet? The jewel in the crown for me just had to be Tapuaetai, otherwise known as one foot island. This place, the tranquillity, the view of the other islands from here, the sand islands that you can wade out to, just held some kind of magnetism for me and I didn’t really want to leave.
But, leaving i had to, as I had a flight to catch the next evening to Los Angeles. Back at the tiny airport on the main island in Aitutaki, I stood waiting to board my flight back to Rarotonga enjoying the music being played by a busker, a scruffy man with a little guitar. Suddenly, the music stopped and into the same microphone that he had been singing the busker announced that ‘the flight to Rarotonga was ready to board!!’ hahahahaha, I looked at this Australian lass I had been talking to and we got the major giggles!! As there was a sign next to the airfield saying not to trespass we were not sure if this busker guy was serious, if he actually had authority to announce to us to board the flight. Turns out this is just the way things roll in the Cook islands. Take it eassssssssyyyyy.....
Turns out, Air New Zealand were also on coconut time as my flight to Los Angeles was delayed by over 5 hours!!! I was back at the Paradise Inn on Rarotonga and just having a beer before leaving for the airport when the manager Teiner came to pass on the message about my flight being delayed. I was talking to one of the canoeist guys, Tayo, at the time and he suggested we might as well go for a drink. Well, my flight didn’t end up leaving til 5am and Tayo, such a sweetheart, stayed with me the whole time to make sure I was OK. This just about sums up the people here really. He took me on the back of his motorbike to the airport so that i could double check the flight status, put my mind at rest. We then went for a few drinks in ‘Jack’s’ on the seafront where we spotted a moray eel swim a few metres away from us!! I checked out of the Paradise Inn and Teina was there, 1am or something, to say goodbye. So nice. Tayo dropped me off at the airport and even though he had planned to go scuba diving the next day, kept me in good company until I boarded my flight for LaLa land finally at around 5am. Oh boy I was shattered but i am left with the most special memories of the Cook Islands...