Oh, Rarotonga! Where it all began… the perfect start to our adventure. The stressful airport proceedings and long flight were well worth it once we arrived at our beautiful little slice of paradise.
Flashback to the stressful airport proceedings… We arrived at the Vancouver airport well in advance of our scheduled departure after spending a lovely day in Southern BC with Mark’s mom. Sure enough we got pulled into secondary at the US customs (since we were flying through LA) and questioned about our intentions. Our excited grins faded quickly when the officer told us that our plan to quit our jobs and travel indefinitely with only carry-on backpacks “seemed a little suspicious”. I think the sudden pale look on both of our faces was enough to convince the officer that we were serious (and also slightly terrified) about the idea. He was pretty curious about the foreign concept, asked us a few more questions, and finally wished us well before letting us be on our way. The slight fifteen minute delay leaving Vancouver cut into our tight two-hour layover in LA, but we made our connection without sprouting too many new grey hairs.
Finally! We landed on the tiny little island of Rarotonga in the South Pacific. It was shortly after 6AM and the sun had yet to rise. We took a few minutes to get our bearings and then set out to find our first home as nomadic wanderers. We quickly realized what we were in for when the kind lady at the airport concession stand asked for $6 NZD (aprox. $4.15 USD) for the 1.5L bottle of water we ordered… Our walk from the airport to the bus stop gave way to a beautiful sunrise over the Pacific ocean and we took a few minutes let it all sink in.
Our week in Rarotonga was nothing short of amazing. It was exactly the relaxed and carefree week we needed after the stressful month leading up to our departure. We had mid-high 20 degree (Celcius) weather and only encountered rain on a couple occasions. We stayed at a beautiful on-suite AirBnb studio on the south-east part of the island where we were able to cook our own meals in our outdoor kitchen and soak in the rays on our private (though very rocky) beach. The infamous Muri lagoon was a short walk away where we managed to become open-water PADI certified scuba divers despite some minor setbacks.
A few things we learned along the way:
- Don’t buy anything that has been imported while on an island in the middle of the Pacific – $8 NZD for a dozen eggs and $8.50 NZD for a bag of Doritos were a little more than we were willing to stomach!
- Almost everything is closed on Sundays – which can make for a rather hungry first day on the island.
- Minimum of SPF 50 is required for pale Canadians to avoid sunburn in the South Pacific.
- Mildly windy weather on land makes for pretty significant waves at sea.
- Lauren has a real hard time with significant waves at sea.
- Being sea-sick can sometimes attract unexpected sea-creatures.
- Always move to the bottom of the ocean when an unexpected sea-creature has been spotted.
- It’s a good idea to get out of the water when a tiger shark has been spotted.
- Hitchhiking is a widely accepted mode of transportation on the island of Rarotonga and it took us 13 cars to get picked up.
- Rarotonga locals are extremely friendly!