- 16 islands spread over an area the size of India
- Total population is around 16,000
- Annual tourists number around 100,000
- The Cooks have their own language and government, and use NZ currency
- We visited Rarotonga, the biggest and most populated island, which is 20 miles (32km) in circumference
Check out this awesome pic Jake took of the palms at our resort. We chose the Cooks because his company asked him to go there for two days' work. Pretty awesome! He worked for a couple days and then we stayed for a long weekend. My first assignment upon arrival was to rent a scooter and get my Cook Islands driver's license because you can't drive there without one. So while he was at work, I headed to the Rarotonga police department. After showing my US license (still don't have an NZ one), handing over $20 and performing a 15-second skills test (which involved the Budget Rental Car lady standing in the parking lot watching me drive my scooter "down around that tree and back"), I was official.
I wondered if this was just a way to raise money from tourists, but that's okay. They handed me my license along with a coupon for free coffee down the road.
And on the flip side was a coupon for a local pub in case you failed. :)
Here's a shot of the first thing I saw upon walking out of the police station with my new license. This poor gal's getting a ticket for going over the 40 kph limit. I felt kind of bad taking her photo but did it anyway. And now some pics of the island.
Lots of beautiful palms and fern trees. The weather was really mild, since it's still winter and it's not so far north as to be tropical, and it was overcast on some of our days, but we loved it!
We did some snorkeling on both sides of the island, and saw a lot of cool fish. We even had a chance to go out during the resort's daily fish feeding, where you hold out pieces of bread while you're snorkeling and the fish swarm you and eat out of your hand! The fish have adapted to this daily ritual and come in droves.
I think one of the local specialties is called tivaevae -- a type of quilting that's very colorful and used for bedspreads, pillows, etc.
Our resort was pretty nice without being a really fancy, high-dollar place. We enjoyed many a cocktail under these cabanas.
And here's a couple pics of the inland. We weren't able to explore much on our own as the inland trails are unmarked and they recommend you hire a guide to show you around. Apparently it only takes about four hours to hike over the hills from one side of the island to the other.
I can't help it -- 40 k's an hour on a scooter can give you a wild hairdo.