Well worth the cost of the short flight from Raratonga. I defy anybody not to be blown away by the beautiful crystal clear lagoon and the beautiful sandy beaches. Get away from the busy main tourist island of Raratonga to Aitutaki, a small group of islands surrounding the incredible lagoon. Two of these islands were chosen for Channel 4s TV show Shipwrecked.
A mini guide to the Cook Islands
On Raratonga there is a bus that runs fairly regularly (every 30 mins) in an anticlockwise direction around the island. You can higher motorcycles from most hotels. We hired bikes and managed to cycle the 20km around the island in the blazing midday sun. not the best of ideas!
If you want to get further a field like another island heres where the costs rise. Spread over an area the size of India your only real option is to fly . We flew to Aitutaki after much debate, it turned out well worth the investment to get away from the crowds and see some of the most beautiful beaches your ever likely to see.
The cook Islands aren’t cheap, being a popular holiday destination with the Kiwi’s and its geographical location (a lot of things are imported from New Zealand) result in high living costs. We managed to live cheaply by staying in a dorm in Tiare Village cooking for our selves sometimes using fruits and vegetable’s picked from the wild.
Where to stay
Backpacker or budget accommodation is difficult to find on Raratonga. We opted for Tiare Village. Situated on the north side of the island, Tiare Village is set in a wonderful lush tropical garden setting. The lady which ran the hostel was one of the best things about the place. She was friendly, learnt everyone’s names and made you feel really welcome. Tiare village unfortunately was a bus ride away from the beautiful lagoon.
A dorm bed in the main house cost NZ$20, not exactly cheap but one of the cheaper places on the Island.
New Zealand quick guide
Probably the best way to travel would be to hire a camper van. We didn’t go for this as we thought it would be cheaper to rent a car and stay in hostels. The advantage of having you own transport is you can really get of the beaten track and see some really great places. It also means you can stop when you like and get that photo of the beautiful scenery whenever you want.Where to stay in New Zealand
We stayed in all sorts of places form cheap dorm rooms in hostels to bedrooms in ancient hotels. Its all about finding the cheapest place for the night.New Zealand Costs
New Zealand is cheaper than Australia, but when you compare it to South-east Asia its pretty expensive. To try and cut down on the costs we stayed in the cheapest Hostels we could find and cooked all our meals ourselves. This does mean however that often you’ll be staying at the non party orientated hostels as the real popular ones charge a lot more.
Indonesia mini guide
Getting Around Indonesia
Bus Travel in Indonesia
Probably the cheapest way to get around but also probably the slowest and most trouble. A lot of tourist offices offer to book your buses for you, all they do is charge you more than it would cost if you just turned up and put you on the worst bus possible.
The other option is a ‘tourist shuttle’ bus, this will cost you more but you’ll hopefully be picked up from you hostel and dropped off where you want all trouble free. Obviously its not as character building as haggling your bus ticket, being lied to, ripped off, crammed in, sharing your with chickens and bags of onions and finally your bus setting on fire.
To make your way to a bus station it will usually mean you’ll need to hop in a bemo. Bemos are little mini buses and each one is customised to their owners tastes often with ridiculously loud sound systems installed.
Bemos will fly around the cities and towns, one guy hanging out the open door touting for customers. The problems arise when you need to get in one with your backpacks, Bemos are very cramped for a westerner anyway but with a large bag (and guitar) its pretty awkward. With taxis costing comparably so much more they are you only real option when on a budget. The guide books give you costs for bemo rides but you’ll nearly always have to pay twice as much. This is probably due to the backpack taking up space.
Cheap flights can be found fairly easily. In some locations it can be hard to find somewhere to book a flight but it’ll save you a lot of time. We travelled overland from Bali to Flores and flew back with Merpati as the overland trip took days. The trip overland was one of the best experiences but very tiring.
Travel by Ferry in Indonesia
If you’re travelling overland you’re going to have to get a ferry if you want to hop between the thousands of islands. There are many ferry routes going from many times a day to monthly. Ferries are a great experience, there not very comfortable (we spent one night sleeping on the concrete floor as cockroaches rang around us) but you will see some memorable things.