Dave and Jo Edwards had a fantastic time with fellow bowlers in the Cook Islands recently. Dave wrote a diary during his stay which made us want to go after reading it, so we thought we’d publish it and encourage you to consider going to the beautiful Cook Islands!
We awoke to the soothing sounds of island life after our relaxing siesta in one of Edgewater Resort’s spacious rooms which looked straight out onto a lush garden area littered with a variety of beautiful tropical flora, I’m not sure we could have asked for a better start to our first day on the island!
Following a delicious breakfast, we had an informative and comical orientation with our incredibly knowledgeable guide Tiki who helped get us clued up on the scenic little island we would be calling home for the next eight days.
After our chat with Tiki we all enjoyed a chance to relax and decompress, we spent most of the day soaking up the island vibes and engaging in some peaceful downtime, at least until happy hour started.
The drinks were soon flowing and we had a chance to chat and enjoy some light-hearted conversation and levity, besides the plentiful supply of alcohol we also got a chance to sample the delicious local delicacies and with the generous portion sizes our bellies were lined to the brim.
It was a very cultural evening too with lots of native dancing, singing and melodic drums which resonated through the night’s cool sea breeze, it was awesome experience and one I’ll never forget, those guys and girls sure know how to move and although my two left feet were somewhat lacking in the rhythm department I sure did have fun.
Despite the fact a number of us were feeling a little bit precious after our first evening in Rarotonga we were able to muster the courage to get up the morning after for our morning bus tour of the island with our driver George who knows everything there is to know about the island and its surrounds.
We all learnt interesting facts about the island and its history, we had chances to stop off along the tour to take a look a different notable sites and historical points including the noni juice factory.
The juice is made from the noni fruit or Morinda Citrifolia to give it its ‘proper’ name, according to the people of Rarotonga the herbal tonic can cure any ailment, this came in handy for me as I was still in the midst of battling the after-effects of the frivolity we’d had the night before.
By the afternoon thanks to the noni we were in fighting fitness once again as we headed to the local bowlo for our first taste of bowling on the island in a social roll-up our fabulous tour organiser had planned with the locals.
The greens were a little bit different to what we would usually play on in New Zealand and Australia, we soon learnt the pace of them and enjoying quality games of bowls.
The friendliness of the locals shone through once again with everyone cracking jokes, partaking in good-hearted competition and experiencing bowls at its best.
The following day we took a trip down to visit a local school, this gave us all an opportunity to learn about the culture which is passed down from generation to generation.
It truly is a noble culture and after our visit, we were all well aware it will never die.
Our visit to the school afforded us the chance to learn how to make our own headwear from flowers and the boys showed us all how to extract the delectable raw coconut from its shell while we listened to more native music and drums.
The children were never without a smile on their faces and the respect they showed for the teachers and our group was lovely to see.
As the afternoon rolled around and it was into serious competition mode, we headed to the bowls club and set ourselves into teams of four, mixed up with the locals and much fun was had.
Some bowls went close and some didn’t but it didn’t really matter as the laughs across the green were well heard.
We finished with a few bevvies and more laughter.
It was then time for the famous lagoon cruise which the whole group had been excited for.
Wow, what a great day.
We headed out to the lagoon were able to dip into the water with goggles and a snorkel.
The water was warm and crystal blue, I had a smile on my face the whole time as we snorkelled over the coral and marvelled at the plethora of tropical fish. It truly is a paradise on earth.
After our chance to swim we ventured off to a little island to have lunch before a chance for another swim.
We were treated to some more entertainment which was put on just for us including a coconut tree climbing show with the world’s fastest climber, a sarong tying exhibition and plenty of heavenly music to soundtrack it all.
On our fifth day in Rarotonga we had a chance to visit the local markets, there were so many beautiful locally handcrafted items on display.
We were greeted by a kaleidoscope of colours and smells from the freshly prepared food stalls, which I think we all overindulged in but we were on holiday!
I think everyone came away with at least one item from the markets, ours are hanging on the wall as a constant reminder of a what a great place Raro is and the fun we had visiting it.
Following our excursion to the markets we popped down to the bowlo for our final afternoon of play.
The atmosphere again was one of happiness and laughter.
Another three games were played in such a lovely spirit and the winners were found.
We were then back to the resort for a couple of hours to get into our island attire before returning to the club.
The welcome we received for our final night there was unbelievable, they had dancers, drummers and lots of smiles.
The dinner was simply amazing with a lot of local food and once again, we ate far too much but couldn’t help ourselves.
We all had such a great time and were all a bit sad when the bus came to pick us up.
The next day was a church visit, I’m not going to lie I was a bit sceptical about the church visit at first, although we had heard a lot about the singing.
Whilst neither me or Jo are religious, we absolutely loved our visit.
They are all so passionate and it showed in their singing, it was lovely to see both the young and old sing side by side.
You could tell it meant so much to them all.
I would recommend the experience to anyone visiting Rarotonga, it’s one that will stay with you for a long time.
After the church service we had some free time, most of us took the opportunity to head down to the pool or beach for a bit of relaxation and a cocktail or two.
On our final day with no activities planned, people decided to spend the day how they wished.
A few went off on a 4×4 excursion around the island, while others laid by the beach and soaked up the sun.
With so many things to do on Raro we were spoiled for choice, in the end we decided to hire a car and do some more exploring of our own.
We did a small coaching session at the club then took off to Muri beach, where I was finally able to tick off one of my bucket list items.
I hired a stand up paddle board and paddled off for an hour, the water is so blue and clear I could view the tropical fish darting around underneath in full clarity which was an excellent way to end the holiday.
While this was our first trip to Rarotonga, I am confident in saying it won’t be our last.
The people are so unbelievably happy, the weather was beautiful and the island is lovely.
Rarotonga, we will be back!
Uplift Tours offers this social bowls tour that includes flights, accommodation, sightseeing, bowls and most meals – it’s a flight/accommodation package, not a cruise so you will be able to arrive and enjoy bowls and sightseeing at your leisure! Hassle free, guaranteed enjoyment awaits you, so contact Uplift at 1300 484 510 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book to travel from 30 April – 8 May 2019. Various discounts apply so get in quickly. Places have already started filling up.