Saturday 28th November 2015
06.12.2015 26 °C
Strange though it is, we are having another go at Saturday the 28th. This time we began the day in Rarotonga just as we had finished our second attempt at Friday the 27th. All very strange and hard the get your head round! Whatever day it was/felt like it was pretty overcast when we surfaced this morning.
After a bit of discussion and some research on Cook Island driving licences we decided to hire a car for the week. There were other options such as getting the bus; simple as there are just two main routes in the island, clockwise and anti-clockwise. The third option was to hire a scooter but given the way the weather was developing we decided almost immediately against this. Nigel went and spoke to our host Angela and Nancy then rang round a couple of car hire places, and we thought it would be fun to have a soft top in anticipation of sunnier weather later in the week. We could stick to Avis but they were wanting to charge $85 a day or a local company that could could do a new car for $75 or a slightly battered but roadworthy vehicle for $35. Given that we couldn't drive far on the island we decided to go for the cheapest option.
About half an hour or so later a guy from the car hire company came and picked us up in the said car and then took us back to their office to complete the paperwork. It looked a little battered but we thought it would do for a few days. Once all the forms were filled in and the bill paid we went to get in the car, but no matter how careful I was I couldn't get the seat belt to pull out. The guy came and gave it a go, but he couldn't get it to budge either. In the meantime Nigel has seen a hole in the floor that you could see the ground through. Despite being told that it wasn't compulsory to wear seat belts on the island we were not reassured and so it was back into the office, which was on the verge of closing, to renegotiate. In the end we got a newer, but not particularly luxurious model, for the same price as the rust bucket. OK it didn't have a soft top but it was cheap and at least it looked safe so we stuck with what they had offered us.
Once we left the car hire place we drove into the main town of Avarua and got some shopping in a pretty basic looking supermarket and then went and had some lunch at a cafe recommended to us by Nancy. The food was pretty good and the only downer was having to rush under cover at one point when it started to rain. Whilst we were out I suggested that we did a 'once round the island' orientation. It is pretty relaxing to stay somewhere so compact and easy to get around with nowhere being more than about a 45 minute drive. The most stressful decision when going anywhere is whether to go clockwise or anti-clockwise! As Nigel was driving I was trying to get a sense of what was where and looking out for the beaches that Angela had said were the best.
The main road always runs pretty close to the sea, although there are parts of the island where there are houses and hotel accommodation between the road and the sea, and others where the road is right next to the ocean. Fortunately there isn't really anywhere on Rarotonga where the beaches are privately owned so as long as there is an side road/ path to the beach you can go there, and once you are walking on the beach it is free access. Occasionally people walk past our bungalow but that is quite nice in terms of people watching and given that we are right on the sand there has been the occasional envious look or admiring comment. Anyway back to our circuit of the island, having driven past Muri with its numerous bars and hotels we arrived at the start of Titikaveka Beach, one of the places where there is a large stretch of beach right next to the road. We stopped here and sat on the beach for a while and I couldn't resist a bit of a paddle. Despite the rather wet and windy weather the sea still looked and felt inviting.
After a short while we went back to the car and continued around the island ending up back at our accommodation. Having unpacked the shopping and put it away, we walked a short distance up the beach from where we are staying. This spot is better for swimming as it is still protected by the reef but has a little bit less inshore rock and coral making it a little deeper and easier to swim. Having our reef shoes with us meant that we didn't need to worry about stepping on any bits of sharp, dead coral. Once we had finished swimming we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the deck of our bungalow listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the reef until the sun started to go down.
We had asked Angela to book us a table at Oceans Restaurant at a hotel called the Crown Beach Resort about a kilometre from where we are staying. This was a little bit more upmarket than where we ate last night, and the food was every bit as good. Once we had finished eating we went back and had coffee on our deck before turning in for the night accompanied by the sound of the waves crashing on the reef and the wind howling through the trees.