Since we did not do a snorkel cruise in Rarotonga, we chose to do one in Aitutaki. There are a few to pick from so you have to know what you want out of the cruise prior to choosing.
The two that stood out on Trip Advisor and forums that we read were Teking Lagoon Cruise and Bishop Cruise. Teking takes you to three snorkeling spots and five motus (islands). Bishop took you to one or two snorkeling locations, but more time on the islands. For our specific purpose, we wanted more time in the drink. Also, the only day we had available to do the cruise was on a Saturday. Bishop does not operate on Saturdays.
Made the decision easier.
Speaking of the Saturday.... (I know I said less talking, more pictures, so scroll down to the pictures then come back. I'll wait.)
Saturday. Most flights back to the United States are Saturday night. Well sort of. Is Midnight night or morning? Irregardless. 11:59 PM. Midnight. So what do you do when you have to check out of your resort at 11:00 am and hang around until midnight? Well, we booked our full day snorkel cruise at 9:00 am to get back early afternoon. If you are lucky (we were VERY lucky) your resort will let you pay for a half day (or it will be included in your package). We stayed at Tamanu Beach and they were AWESOME about letting us use one of the units to leisurely shower and change for the flight out of Aitutaki. It is called late check out and it is something you should look into while booking your trip to the Cook Islands.
Okay, Lagoon Cruise.
The van arrived to pick us up and then picked up other passengers. We went to a small park-like area where we paid (credit cards are fine; they are done with a manual machine) and sized up our snorkel and fins. Once we had all that, we got on the boat and were off.
|The actual boat we were on.|
(This is where you get all the pictures and less of the words)
When we first started out we could see the coral underneath the surface of the water. While we knew with a canoe/vaka that you could glide over them. I wasn't sure how it was going to work with a bigger boat with a motor.
Turned out, not so different. Teking knew the way and knew which coral to go between and which to scootch over (although it was pretty discerning thinking you were going to bottom out the boat).
This was literally the view. While we did have a nice DSLR camera, you didn't need that big of a camera to get these shots. None of these photos are adjusted all that much - no HD, no PhotoShop, just the true color that we saw.
After our second (or third) snorkel location, we had to make the long trek to our food.
|Looks like a miserable walk, eh?|
|Love the serving bowls - giant clam shells.|
|Again, I'm not a fish eater, but this stuff was AWESOME!|
We got a chance to wander the island. I think this is about the spot where I began digging my heels into the sand, telling anyone who would listen (nobody was) that I wasn't leaving.
Although it is a little primitive.
The snorkeling was FANTASTIC! We've been all over the world snorkeling and I can honestly say that this was the best I've seen. The water was crystal clear and you could see forever.
|The iconic One Foot Island.|
|Home of the smallest Post Office. Be sure to bring your passport so you can get it stamped.|
|The Best Bar EVER!|
- Take Sunscreen - Holy Batcave, sunburns HURT when you are flying home that night. Crap.
- Take your own water or know that you are going to pay $4 each. You will go through a couple.
- You don't need to bring your own towels or snorkel equipment.
- Take a camera, but know that you are in and out of the water. Put it in a ziplock or waterproof bag if you are worried about it.
- Arrive at the meeting spot at your resort ON TIME or you (and your fellow now-pissed-off) cruisers will have less time in the water.
- Know if you want more time on the boat floating around or more time in the water snorkeling - it will determine which cruise line you should go with.
- Be prepared to EAT! The food is fantastic.
- Apply the sunscreen you brought. Did I mention how much it hurts to have to sit on a plane for 9 hours with a sunburned back?
- There are no bathroom facilities (well...you saw the picture).
- Have fun and enjoy your day.
If you've got a better spot to snorkel, let me know and I'll put it on my bucket-list.