Friday, September 6, 2013

Teeny, Tiny Airports

It was time to leave the island of Rarotonga and head to Aitutaki.  A lot of travelers to the Cook Islands choose to do the one day tour of Aitutaki.  8:00 am, board a plane, 45 minute flight, snorkel cruise, get back on a plane at 5:30 pm, 45 minute plane ride back to Rarotonga and a trip wishing you had more time on Aitutaki.

Luckily I'm a fan of reviews.  Everyone (make that EVERYONE) said they wished they had more time on the outer islands.  So we booked our stay for three additional nights on Aitutaki instead of Rarotonga.  The price really wasn't any different because 1) we had to pay for housing/food during our two week stay wherever we stayed 2) we would have gone to Aitutaki anyway.

In the States, you arrive at the airport at least two hours ahead of your flight, prepared to strip down to your socks (wait, let me rephrase that) take off your shoes, whip off the belt, get the change (and everything else out) of your pockets and dump all liquids.

We did have to do all that stuff in Los Angeles - plus it was a three hour early arrival, not two.

I know you can't hear me laughing from where you are, but this is soooo not how it works on these inter-island flights. (Flights to any of the other countries, New Zealand, Los Angeles, etc are not included in this)

1  Two hours is wayyyyy too long to be at the Raro airport.

There's no wi-fi.  There's barely a cafe.  There's no air-conditioning.  The chairs are hard.  There's no customs to go through.  Most important - there's no one there two hours before your flight to take your luggage!

This is actually the Aitutaki Airport, but you get the idea...

2.  There is no security to go through. 

Even if there was, if you've already spent anytime in Rarotonga, you aren't wearing socks, a belt or have anything in your pockets.  Your phone doesn't work anyway, so it's packed somewhere in your luggage (or it's been drowned in the ocean because you forgot in was in your pocket on that impromptu dunk at the beach).  We thought we would be so busted because we all were carrying opened water bottles on board and no one stopped us.

3.  The plane is about 6 inches big.

Okay, fine, I exaggerated.  But it's pretty close.  It's first come first serve, but it wasn't exactly crowded.  Although don't plan on bringing a standard suitcase carry on.  We have our cameras in a large backpack camera bag that has gone around the world with us as a carry on.  It barely was able to squish under the seat so we could take off.

I guess they think, since you had to go through all that security in New Zealand/Los Angeles/Wherever, that you are safe for an inter island flight to Aitutaki or Atiu or Manahiki.

Yeah, that's worth it!

Landed!  Yet again.  Welcome to Aitutaki

Yes, the cost of inter-island flights is outrageous.  Remember going from Maui to Kauai for $99?  Not gonna happen in Cooks.  $350 per person round trip minimum.  To give you an idea, it is NZ $459 for the day trip, leaving at 8 am, snorkel cruise and leaving at 5:30. Just stay a couple days on Aitutaki and enjoy!

Air Rarotonga Website - Air Raro

Up next ... Swimming in the Dark at Tamanu Beach.

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