I have vacationed and laxed out on tropical islands before. I’ve cruised around Samoa in ‘The Little Red Rocket’; dodging sleeping roadside dogs, families of chickens, unexpected speed bumps and drinks to go in a coconut. I’ve honeymooned in Tahiti, where the most trivial question was “Shall we swim in the pool or the sea?” And now I have had a fully-fledged family wedding/holiday in Rarotonga.
I stayed with a Kiwi who lives there and is a friend of my cousin and turned out to be a cousin of my friend. With her knowledge and my experience there combined, here’s some stuff I learnt in Rarotonga:
Hiring a scooter is a must. A little scary especially since going without a helmet is the norm and I am ultra-special and a little bit gammy when it comes to the basics of bicycling. But who knew… just save the happy waving for when you’re off the scooter or if you are way more co-ordinated than myself; like the women who manage to scooter and hold onto their young child propped up behind them. Did I mention no helmets?
Purchasing a hand-painted coconut ukulele off the side of the road and getting the seller to tie some string from the fishing line fret board to the intermediate school leftover metalwork chunk bridge, and then slinging that over your shoulder and scootering off like your some kind of god of the uke bands. Badass.
If you thought a tropical island beach wedding was a breath-taking scenario in itself, try adding a local show-boating kite surfer right behind the reading of the vows (because there is totally no other water, waves and wind around any other part of the island), who happened to be topless and handsome and made it hard for the female guests to watch the actual ceremony.
Do not sit, walk or scooter under a coconut palm. You never know when one of those bad boys are going to drop.
Being on a tropical island justifies drinking a crap load of cocktails, especially from a fishbowl. Mega-awesome!
I ate half a pizza bread stuffed with barbequed chicken and slathered with sauces, and then a face-sized slab of coconut and date cake with a tub full of toffee topping and I didn’t feel guilty for eating it all.
Maeve Nui is a fab week to go to Raro and soak up the celebrations, food, parades, and local goodness. Island girls definitely have a mesmerising talent of shaking their hips until you want to don a coconut bra, but realise that you’d probably end up looking as gammy as bicycling or scootering.
Captain Tama’s is a hilarious glass-bottom boat tour and there is some amazing fresh island cuisine for lunch. Those guys and their wise-cracks are one in a million.
Rarotonga is one of those all-round vacay destination gems, like the sports star at high school who is also smart, witty, good-looking and a nice person. Families, honeymooners, wedding groups, hens parties, couple group holidays, mates since birth, in-laws, outlaws, the retirement village annual trip… there really is a lot to be said for this place that really is a shiny black pearl in the Pacific Ocean.