“Chilling out” in Rarotonga

My wife and I have just come back from about 6 days in Rarotonga, something which has become a bit of an annual ritual. We stay at a Villa (one of 5 individual units) on the South Coast, the owners of which we count as friends now, and they kindly store beach chairs and so on for us from one visit to another.

Rarotonga is really like a home away from home – the currency is the same as New Zealand, and there is a very apparent New Zealand influence on the way things operate. This makes the transition from home to holiday very easy and painless.  They even accept our New Zealand driving licences now which is very convenient.

If you are keen on water sports there is plenty to do. The fishing is great once you get outside the reef, and inside the reef, there is plenty of scope for snorkelling, kayaking and so on. If you like shopping Avarua is worth a look but it is small in New Zealand terms. And you can take lots of opportunities on offer to explore the interior of the island which is dank and hot

The climate can be a disappointment if you are not forewarned. Rarotonga is quite small – 45 minutes or so to do a circuit of the island – and the influence of the sea on the weather is very obvious. A bit like New Zealand really! So if you stay for a week or more you can guarantee there will be rainy days as well as sunny days. And on the beach, it is rare for the temperature to get out of the high twenties. It climbs as you go inland.

But we go to Rarotonga to “chill out”. At home, there are always things to do or that need doing. In Raro, all of that temporarily disappears. Our Villa is right on the beach so the days are taken up with lots of reading, the consumption of good wine, music from the iPod and just soaking up the ambience of the white sand beach, the lagoon water and the palm trees. All of this punctuated with bouts of swimming, and the weekly visit to the market in Avarua. We vary between going out for dinner, cooking something up on the Villa BBQ or making do with a takeaway pizza from the restaurant down the road.

Rarotonga can be windy but the south coast is partially protected from the prevailing easterly which hits the Muri coast. The easterly ruffles the water and the palm trees on the beach, but move back 10 m or so and it is almost dead calm.

6 or 7 days is usually enough – by then we have had enough “chilling out” and are ready to get back to the challenges of life back home.

Most people need the equivalent of our Rarotonga – somewhere they can go to just “chill out” and regain their strength and enthusiasm for everyday life. Our “chilling out” happens to be a tropical beach but for others, it may be camping out in the bush, activities like rock climbing, watching sports, or whatever.  The key to master in this is to accept that it is OK to be doing absolutely nothing – at least for a while. It is important to take the time to just look around and appreciate your surroundings, wherever or whatever they may be.

And then batteries recharged it is back to the hurly-burly of life at home.


By Bas Walker

This is another of Bas Walker’s posts on GrownUps.  Please look out for his articles, containing his Beachside Ponderings.