Farewell to the Cook Islands - Bonjour Tahiti!!

Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
Trip End Mar 23, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Tahiti Nui

Flag of French Polynesia  , Society Islands,
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Have just arrived in French Polynesia - the capital city of Papeete on the island of Tahiti to be exact.  After 8 days in the Cook Islands, will be interesting to see how French Polynesia compares.  It will be tough to beat that incredible lagoon of Aitutaki, but I'm sure French Polynesia will be spectacular as well.

Aitutaki was sunshine, white sand, every-shade-of-turquoise warm lagoon, dream-like sand bars, and of course, coral reefs teaming with colourful fish.  We even managed to see a large sea turtle zoom by us (never imagined a turtle could swim that fast).

After spending 4 days in Aitutaki, we flew to the main island of the Cooks - Rarotonga.  Though its lagoon isn't as impressive as Aitutaki's, it has rugged mountains.  Very beautiful to see the contrasting colors of the deep blue ocean next to the turquoise lagoon which fronts the lush green jagged mountains.  Although we had rented a convertible car for our 3 days in Rarotonga, our travels in the South Pacific during rainy season caught up with us... It rained on and off every day, so didn't get drive with the top down very much.  Nor did we snorkel or swim as much as we had hoped.  Having said that, it was very nice to finally have 3 days to just chill and take it very easy for a change.  Got a complementary upgrade to a 2-bedroom bungalow where we got to prepare our own meals.  This turned out to be a bit of a challenge as we had a difficult time finding fresh meat.  Keep forgetting Rarotonga has a population of only 10,000.

We got a good taste of this 'small island' mindset with our car rental.  You have to get a Cook Islands Driver's License to drive there and this can only be obtained at the main Police Station. We arrived at 12:30pm Saturday, when we picked up our car rental, Budget gave me a temporary 24 hour Cook Island Driver's License (for $2), but told us the main police station was just 200 metres down the street and I should go there right away as they close at 2pm on Saturday and are closed on Sunday.  We got there at 1:04pm and were told they decided to close at 1pm (and would not make any exceptions) and won't open until Monday morning. They said I should go back to Budget on Sunday to get another 24 hour C.I. Driver's License, then come back on Monday to go through the short test and pay the $15 dollar fee for the full C.I. Driver's License. We left Rarotonga on Tuesday (today).  To make a long story short, I didn't bother with their little Driver's License.  What a racket!

Tomorrow we walk down to the port and hop on a 30 minute ferry over to Moorea.  We can see it from Papeete, and also saw it from the plane as we landed here (Moorea is only 20 kms away).  It looked spectacular!  They say the approach to Moorea in ferry is something to behold.  So, really looking forward to it....
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