Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands, a Polynesian Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 9 hours flight from LA (once a week) or 3 hours from New Zealand (everyday). I was lucky enough to shoot the Moontide Swimwear campaign there and meet up with my friend Shannon who I went to school with in New Zealand (small world) who now lives there.
This gorgeous island hosts good resorts, villas, authentic local culture and food which is full of vibrancy and energy. I was born in Tonga, a different group of islands closer to Samoa, so the Polynesian culture resonates with me.
Aitutaki – One of the most beautiful beaches in the world
It is a small airplane ride to Aiututaki- voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world by Conde Naste Traveller. One-foot island has pristine clear blue waters, white sand beaches and lovely Polynesian hospitality. There are resorts there that are great for a romantic escape.
Perfect blue lagoon in Aitutaki
Blowing the Horn Seashell
Fresh Guava- Natures gift- this is my favorite fruit EVER
Landing in Aitutaki wearing a Topshop Dress and my Longchamp Carry-all
View from the plane
Rarotongan Buffet on a boat – Grilled Fish, Salad and Watermelon. YUM and fresh!
A Fishing Trip: We caught Tuna and had it for sashimi for dinner. There is no better food than that!
Out on the deep sea off Rarotonga, great day for fishing
Catch of the Day in Rarotonga – Snapper and Tuna
Our Captain gutting our tuna for us
Go fishing! Sashimi made by our hotel from our fish we caught
- I dont like cocktails but great for a photo op!
Rarotongan Dance show at the Culture Centre
This may not look appetizing but the bubble seaweed and Octopus Salad is delicious!
Just canoeing through the Shopping centre
Party with the locals
Partying on a Pub Crawl Party Truck- goes around to every bar on the island and there is literally only 1 circular road. Very fun
SATURDAY MARKET: Live music and dancing, shopping, fresh produce and crafts in downtown Rarotonga.
Local Dancers at the Saturday Market
Teresa taking in the Saturday market in a Primark Dress and Burberry Sunglasses
Local Bananas, Starfruit, Papayas and Limes
Trader Jacks Bar on the wharf offers views on the harbor and a fun local scene
Handmade Vakas (outrigger boats) for the Polynesian Festival
NOW FOR THE FOOD:
The food in Rarotonga is surprisingly good, worldly and Polynesian-sized hearty. Love that.
Steak @ Tamarind House
Meat Lasagna @ Tamarind House
Mahi Mahi @ Tamarind House
Champagne @ Tamarind House
Fruit Punch Rum Cocktail @ Tamarind House
Braised Pork Belly @ Flame Tree Restaurant Rarotonga
Coconut fed local pork, slow cooked on the bone. Served on roasted potato wedges with chorizo and chilli ragout.
Grilled New Zealand Lamb Rack @ Flame Tree Restaurant Rarotonga
VERY Generous and delicious. Oven baked NZ lamb rack with potato au gratin, roast vegetables, and finished with fresh mint sauce.
Green Papaya Salad and Ika Mata Raw Fish Appetizers @ Flame Tree Restaurant Rarotonga
raders Seafood Catch for Two @ Trader Jack’s
Delicious and HUGE. Could feed 4 people. Prawns, calamari, smoked marlin, Ika Mata, sashimi, Papi Papi (Slipper Lobster), or crayfish, grilled game fish, steamed mussels & oysters), served with dipping sauces, fries & garden greens.
Oysters @ Trader Jack’s
Calamari Strips @ Trader Jack’s
Crumbed with lime & tartar sauce