Paddle to Paradise
MURI LAGOON - Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS
Ever since I was a young lad growing up in the middle of England, my inner Robinson Crusoe longed for an exotic escapade. Gazing at the world map on my bedroom wall, I’d conjure up visions of palm-fringed, turquoise gems sprinkled across the vastness of the Pacific blue. For a fraction of the cost of a magazine-spread location like Bora Bora, a voyage to the Cook Islands can satisfy the craving for castaway life. The main island in the Cook chain is Rarotonga, a mere dot in the ocean encircled by a coral reef. On the south-eastern edge of Rarotonga lies Muri Lagoon, and along its shores my beachcomber fantasies came true.
Out in the lagoon are little motu (reef islets) that you can head out to with your chosen means of exploration. I love the simplicity of a stand up paddleboard - you’re powered by your own stead and there’s very little to learning how to use one. The water is crystal clear and it’s easy to distract yourself with the aquatic life moving about underneath your board. Beneath the tropical sun, the sparkling colours of the lagoon, beach and palms becomes a heady mix. When it’s all getting a bit too much, dive underwater with your snorkel and potter around the coral reefs pretending you’re in your own Jacques Cousteau doco. While the sun dips behind the peaks of the old volcano on mainland Raro, make your way back across the lagoon with the entire island as a backdrop to your adventure. Kia Orana!*
* the traditional greeting on Rarotonga, it means ‘may you live long’ in Cook Islands Maori