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Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

Hobart, Australia
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for Vanuatu
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Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

While the Cook Islands is a magical place, one could say an island paradise and one that many choose to return to again and again there are some things that it is better to be forewarned about.

As a Cook Island DE has recently said “it is far better to be forewarned about a situation rather than pretend all is paradise and letting ones guard down when on holiday”.

Experiences and events that may have an impact on your Cook Island holiday and handy things to know before you arrive:

1.Stonefish abound in the lagoons – Rarotonga and Aitutaki - you need thick soled water or reef shoes and to shuffle when walking in the water - a stonefish sting does not make a memorable holiday and can even be life threatening if not treated correctly.

2. Also be aware of bluebottles as they can have a pretty nasty sting. When walking on the beach if you see lots of blue bubbles attached to what look like long blue stings - do not go in the water and do not tread on them on the sand – they can still sting.

3. Pollution in the lagoon at Rarotonga can be bad - especially when it rains and all the pig faeces and other pollution run into the lagoon. Don’t eat any fish you have caught in the lagoon as you can get quite sick.

Anyone else got any others?

Suzi

Aitutaki, Cook...
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1. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

I have a few:

1. People who haven't been to the tropics think that when it's cloudy you don't need sunscreen. Not true. Whenever you are out, regardless of cloud cover, always put on sun screen (30 SPF is sufficient) and always wear good sun glasses and a hat especially if you are going out on the water fishing.

2. There are mosquitoes in the Cook Islands that can carry the Dengue virus. This is often a sensitive topic and some accommodation owners don't tell people there is an outbreak because they think they will stay away. There hasn't been a major outbreak in the Cook Islands for awhile now but the mosquitoes are still here. They are not born with the virus but if someone arrives from some other place where there is an outbreak it could spread here. So always protect yourself, even if there isn't an outbreak, with good repellent preferably with a high percentage of deet. Spay yourself morning and afternoon. The mosquito that carries the virus is a daytime biting one.

3. While on this topic don't scratch your bites. Bring some anti-itch cream with you and some good broad-spectrum antibiotic cream for scratches and cuts. Treat even the smallest cut immediately. It's the tropics and infections can happen easily.

Please don't let any of this put you off from visiting. This is a magic place and once you come you will want to make it a regular thing..

Rarotonga, Cook...
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2. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

There is information posted to the right side of this page, regarding risks to swimmers and bathers on Rarotonga. There are reef passages mainly located along the southern lagoon where large sign-boards warn of the risks of swimming in the deeper and darker water in these areas. Heed this advice earnestly.

Some visitors seem to lose their sense of good behaviour when they are on holiday and have the freedom to explore on hire scooters. Rarotonga is not the place to speed, hoon about, drink-drive and motor two abreast or more on our roads. Please respect locals, their culture and their environment.

Blue-bottles haven't been much of a problem, if any, these past 12 months on Rarotonga. Ive seen no more than 6 in total as I walk the beaches extensively. Bluebottles have been washed ashore during tropical storms from a far distance. If you encounter them at all, best to remove them to a safe site using a long stick to protect yourselves and destroy them to make it safe for fellow beach users.

Pollution issues around Rarotonga are being addressed through a major waste management project. This commenced two or more years back and is making a positive impact to the eastern lagoon water quality. Pigs are controlled through public policy and implementation. If anyone has a concern regarding the position or siting of pigs (close to streams or beaches), please alert Environmental Services or Public Health about the issue.

nz
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for Norfolk Island, Noosaville, Rarotonga
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3. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

An addition to SuziiW’s #3. Fish poisoning (ciguatera) is common nowadays in many countries, including in Rarotonga’s lagoon. It is unsafe to eat fish from there although some locals still do. Only buy fish from reputable sources such as Ocean Fresh and Blue Pacific. Some fish sold along the road by local fishermen may be fine, but as tourists we don’t know so should not assume they’re safe. There’s lots of information about ciguatera on the internet, including specifically about the Cooks.

To add to Puapii’s advice re mozzies/dengue I would suggest using those plug-in mozzie thingies at night and to burn coils while sitting outside at night (the latter being very cheap locally). If going inland, mozzies are usually much worse so take extra precautions. Mozzies are not as bad during the winter months but they are still around. If a dengue outbreak does start, it is usually well reported in the CI News so keep an eye open. The paper is good reading anyway.

New South Wales...
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4. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

Further to Puapii-teacher's advice regarding bringing a broard spectrum antibiotic cream, I would add to this by suggesting you also bring a good antiseptic lotion.

Coral cuts & scrapes can be very nasty.

My husband experienced a coral cut a few years ago & despite the efforts of our daughter an "animal professional" (she was the closest we had to an MD at the time) who painstakingly removed all visible foreign matter from the wound with tweezers, irrigated the wound with clean water (not lagoon water) & antiseptic then applied an antibiotic cream - 2 days later we had to attend the wonderful Rarotonga hospital for further dressings & oral antibiotics. 1 week after we arrived home he required surgery & 6 weeks later he was still receiving medical treatment.

If you experience a coral cut or scrape & after applying antiseptic & antibiotic cream it appears to be infected after a couple of days don't hesitate to seek medical advice.

Edited: 04 January 2014, 10:42
Hobart, Australia
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5. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

Here's my next suggestion

There are LOTS of dogs and they make great companions. It is good to befriend a local dog as they will act as a guard dog - there are lots of house thefts especially targeting tourists who may be relaxed while on vacation. Even if you are on your deck - lock your doors and windows and never leave valuables in sight. Burglaries are common and there are many repeat offenders that the police seem powerless to deal with. Do lock all doors and windows in your accommodation unless there are lockable security and fly screens. Louvre windows are particularly insecure. Lock any valuables in the safe, if provided. If not – then hide them well.

Regards

Suzi

Edited: 24 January 2014, 11:37
Toronto, Ontario
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6. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

Thank you for posting these tips about burglaries. My husband and I will be visiting for the first time in April, however we were the unfortunate tourists that let our guard down last time we were in French Polyneisa (Moorea) an were robbed several hundred dollars and my husbands electric shaver overnight while we were in the bungalow! We had left 1 window cracked open because the place had no A/C and we wanted to get a breeze going through. We had our day bag (that I carried with me everywhere when we went out) that had our wallets in them in the closet in the bedroom. Yes, that means this person came into the bungalow while we were sleeping and took the bag out of the bedroom. In the morning we found it on the sofa in the living area. Thankfully he didn't just run off with the whole bag as our passports were in there too! Anyways, live and learn.

It's important to note that you are not definitely going to be robbed just because it has happened in the past - the point of this post is to make people aware that when they go on vacation, they can sometimes let their guards down and unfortunately sometimes bad people will take advantage of that.

It happened to me in Moorea, I'm sure it could happen to me here in Toronto, but of course here I have a safe and security system, never leave doors unlocked or windows open! Just be smart and you'll be fine. I have no issues with Moorea, in fact even though that happened I would still go back there and even stay in the same accommodations. I would just be less careless!

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

chaboey

Just wondering where you stayed in moorea?? So sorry to hear you had an unfortunate experience on your holiday. I think it wise to advise caution when on holiday anywhere as nasty people will target tourists..

Hopefully this unfortunate incident doesn't prevent you from traveling abroad .

HuahineVahine

Toronto, Ontario
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8. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

We stayed at a small family run pension on the west coast of Moorea. It was our 2nd time there (to Moorea and that particular pension), we absolutely love the place and will definitely go back. It was foolish for us to leave that window open and also not use the safe (duh!?). We were there in 2011 and again in 2013 and noticed a big change in the demeanor of the local population between our two visits. In 2013 there was a noticeable increase of people just "hanging around" and watching all the time (day, evening, weekday, and weekend). People looked less happy and almost had a worrisome energy to them. It wasn't just "island pace" - it was different. Slow economic times means people are more desperate and things like this happen. We can only hope the person who stole the money really needed it to feed their family.

I will say though that I definitely was more relaxed with safety on our 2nd trip, probably because we had been there before and knew the place. It felt safe and like "home" to us and we let our guard down. We had been in Rio de Janeiro the year before and were very careful there (for fear of being mugged like you read so much about) but for some silly reason the idea of being robbed in such a quiet and peaceful place like Moorea never crossed our minds!

It will never stop me from travelling the world!! It will, however, stop me from letting my guard down and making stupid decisions while on vacation, and at home really! Haha!

We are going to be in Raro and Aitutaki this April and can't wait! And we will remember to lock up and use the safe in the rooms!! :)

Hobart, Australia
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9. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

If you are renting a scooter also don't leave valuables in your locked motorbike seat -an easy target

Regards

Suzi

Rarotonga, Cook...
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10. Re: Things I wish I knew before I went on Holidays

There are numerous travellers tips posted in the resident "sticky" which remains at the top of the Cook Islands forum.

Tips include personal and property safety issues - including the safeguard of valuables left in vehicles or in compartments of scooters when exploring the island, beaches or commercial areas.

There is lots of other useful information to support your stay within the "sticky".

Plus there is information posted to the right side of this homepage with links to relevant previous posts offering further travel information.

Kia manuia.