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A trip to bring back memories.

by angelsmom13 Online Now Jul 17, 2010 at 8:51 PM

Hey all, I want to plan a trip for my Dad.He was stationed in the Cook Islands when he was in the Navy as a young man,now he and my mom are in there in their 70's and are trying to travel as much as they can.My father was diagnosed with the early stages of altzhiemers disease.I was hoping to put together a great trip for them.What is the best time to travel there,the best places to see etc.Any help would be greatly appreciated.Some sites that are navy related would be very cool.Thanks Angelsmom.

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    Re: A trip to bring back memories.

    by Kakapo2 Online Now Jul 18, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    That's a lovely idea.

    I would NOT travel between November and March as this is the cyclone season which can be very wild, with heat, a lot of rain, and tropical storms.

    Mildest weather from June to September - so clearly the best time to go.

    You might consider a combination of the two major islands, which are Rarotonga and Aitutaki - depending on the budget, as flights to Aitutaki are relatively expensive. But you might be lucky with a package.

    On the main island, Rarotonga, there are some interesting churches, some waterfalls, some nice beaches, also some great mountains in the centre of the island - but no idea if your parents are fit enough to go hiking there. Rather not.

    I would say Rarotonga is not very exciting but nice to relax for a week or ten days. Nice shopping (black pearls, pareos, arts and crafts, etc.) in Avarua (capital - and really about the only place for good shopping).

    The island is small enough to get around within a few hours, so you do not have to make itineraries for every day. There are public buses that circle the island clockwise and counter-clockwise, just for the case your parents do not want to rent a car. The latter is really cheap - but a local driver's licence is needed if they hire for more than a day. This just involves a small cost and some queueing at the local police station but no practical test. (The same applies to scooters which is a great means of transport for locals and tourists.)

    Good websites which would be of great help for planning:

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo


    by Kakapo2 Online Now Jul 18, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Navy bases in WW2 were on Aitutaki and Penrhyn. So perhaps a package deal that includes Aitutaki would make sense.

    The US built two runways on Aitutaki. I have not been there myself, so cannot tell you how exciting this is and if it is still recognisable as such. (More to see on Bora Bora, in French Polynesia, for example, with several gun emplacements.)

    Penrhyn is in the northernmost of the Northern Group of the Cook Islands and extremely difficult to reach. Flights are forbiddingly expensive, and I read, erratic as well. Ships run infrequently, so surely not an adventure you would want to consider for your parents.

    You might find more info here (I have no time to read it all):

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  • Marianne2's Profile Photo

    Re: A trip to bring back memories.

    by Marianne2 Online Now Jul 18, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    Kakapo gives you good information, and yes, Aitutaki is where the Americans built a long WWII runway, which you can walk on today. I've been there and it is one of my favorite islands on earth -- a smallish high island (like Bora Bora's in miniature), surrounded by a patchwork of crystal clear lagoons. It's terrific for snorkeling, or going out with the local operator for a day's tour by water in the lagoon.

    The best place to stay is at the Pacific Resort. They have fine food and (weekly?) island dances -- the dance troup here is one of the best in the South Pacific. So be sure to take the short flight Rarotonga-Aitutaki, because your father wouldn't want to miss it. Have a great time!

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