Pictures from Day 1 & 2 in the Cook Islands. Below is from the posts (Day 1 & Day 2) describing what we did that day…

There is only one telecom company in the Cook Islands and they charge out the wazoo for Internet so this will be short and sweet.

Our trip over was nuts. Once we got to LA we had to go back through security, then we were told we wouldn’t be able to get on our flight since it was only a one way ticket, then we were told we had to many bags and had to leave them, AND then we were told our seats weren’t together. At this point we both were having heart attacks. Lucky enough I’m a decent sweet talker and Air New Zealand is a fantastic airline and worked with us.

Our flight from LAX was 10 hour and in all my overseas travel it was the best flight I’ve been on. Our seats (in economy class) fully reclined, we had 100+ movies to choose from, the meals were incredible, the staff was crazy nice, and Ashley and I had 5 seats to ourselves. It was great.

Yesterday we spent the day getting to know our resort, chilling on the beach, and mingling with the locals in town. Easily the most friendly people we’ve met. The Cook Islanders make Texans look mean if you can believe that!

Day 2

Today was a grand adventure! It began early with a sunrise viewing on the beach. The beach in front of our resort is incredible and the light hits it just right in the morning that it almost looks like snow.

Around 9am we had one of the hotel staff drive us to the trailhead of the “across island hike.” This particular hike literally cuts right through the center of the island. Rarotunga, the island we are on, is 32km in circumference and this hike was about 8km. A local guide told us it was the best hike on the island. He wasn’t kidding. The south pacific islanders might be large but they’re in shape. Everyone said it was a fairly easy hike… I’m not so sure about their definition of easy. It turned out to be quite strenuous, but incredibly fun and GORGEOUS! (I also had my 40lbs camera bag on my back… I often wonder if the photos are worth it. You can be the judge.)

The hike started easy enough. Typical jungle hiking. Neat vegetation, a lot of free range chickens, a few pigs, and a subtle slope. Then it began to get steeper, and before we knew it we were using our hands to balance and pull ourselves up. It was similar to climbing a latter of roots. Good thing Ashley and I are in-shape!

Once we arrived at the top the views were incredible. The top is a limestone karst named “The Needle.” It looks quite similar to one of the Easter island heads poking above the tropical trees. We could see the entire island. The volcanic peaks, the lagoons, the waves breaking, everything.

The hike down was not as bad, except a few parts we had to climb down a rope since it was so steep. The end of the hike was finished off with a beautiful waterfall into a large pond. After a 4 hour hike a swim in the crystal clear water was extremely refreshing!

After that exhausting hike we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach, snorkeling in the lagoon (a real live coral lagoon with numerous tropical fish, and reading in lounge chairs.

Cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in-store.

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Day 3 Photos from Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Kia Orana!

Usually when Ashley and I travel we stay as far away from your groups and tourists as possible. Generally speaking, we find that the true gems of a place are found off the beaten track, away from the large groups. Yesterday we went against the grain and took a tour.

All of the locals kept saying that this tour was a “must do.” The tour was a 4×4 Safari Tour of the island. A local drove 10 people around in a open WW2 era 4×4. It really was quite nice. They drove us around the entire island and through some of the peaks to a secluded valley (that only this particular tour has access too). It was surprising to hear how much history a small group of islands has. The native Cook Islanders are the original ancestors of the Mauri tribes in New Zealand. The first language of all Cook Islanders is Mauri and the second is English. I was also surprised to hear that English isn’t spoken between natives. It is only spoken if they’re dealing with a tourist. They also understand Tahitian, Samoan, and Fijian. Captain Cook is also highly regarded. They natives never revolted or dislike the whites on they’re island. In fact the whites brought some stability to the region (according to our tour guide). They’re also a very religious bunch. They have a national holiday celebrating the day when the white missionaries came (in the 1800′s) and brought the gospel to the islands.

The tour ended with a fantastic BBQ on the beach. I had never had BBQ tuna, but I HIGHLY recommend it!

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