Let me set the scene for you a little.
We arrived on Rarotonga in the middle of the night. By the time we got to our hotel and into bed it was after 3am.
And we were coming from an extremely difficult and emotional couple of weeks, with the loss and funeral of Thom’s grandfather just a few days before we left Melbourne.
When we woke up to grey skies and lots of wind the following morning, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. We were looking forward to sunshine and hot days, so this was not what we had been hoping for.
Nevertheless, we were booked in for a cruise around Muri Lagoon with Koka Lagoon Cruises, so we headed down to the beach ready to explore Rarotonga’s beautiful lagoon.
From the minute we arrived, our gloomy moods were turned right around. As we waited on the beach to board the two glass-bottom boats, the crew played local Polynesian music, and it didn’t stop for the whole day.
There’s something about the music in the Cook Islands that just makes you so happy. You can’t help but smile when you hear it. It’s so upbeat, with a combination of bongo drums and ukuleles, and the guys from Koka were mixing local songs with Western r’n’b songs to keep everyone entertained for the entire cruise.
Read more: An Essential Guide to Rarotonga
We boarded the glass-bottom boats and started heading out to the Marine Reserve, the best place in Rarotonga for snorkelling. The crew on board kept everyone entertained with endless music, and demonstrations on how to husk a coconut and weave a crown out of leaves.
The boats for the cruise are great, nice and comfortable with a roof that keeps out the intense sun on sunny days, or rain and wind on days like we had. There’s netting on the roof above, where you can store your bags and belongings, so they don’t get wet or in the way on the floor. And the glass-bottom part of the boat extends from the top to the bottom – so no matter where you’re sitting, you’ll always have a great view of the sea life underneath you.
After a short ride, we arrived at the Marine Reserve and jumped into the water to go swimming. The water was surprisingly warm and welcoming despite the cloudy day. Even from on board the boat you could see the giant trevally and huge fish swimming around under the boats.
The coral under the water is full of marine life and beautiful corals that were home to hundreds of different fish, giant clams and even some eels! Devastatingly, our GoPro decided that it didn’t want to turn on, despite being fully charged overnight, so we weren’t able to capture anything under the water.
After snorkelling for about half an hour, we jumped back onto the boat and headed over to Koromiri Island, one of the four islands in Muri Lagoon. On Koromiri, Koka Lagoon Cruises have a perfect island picnic spot, with picnic tables and an entertainment stage, as well as bathroom and even kitchen facilities, where the Cook had been preparing our lunch while we were snorkelling. The sun even came out as we arrived at Koromiri, I couldn’t have been happier!
We had a little bit of time to explore Koromiri Island, before it was time for lunch. An absolute feast of tuna steaks, sausages, salads, fresh fruit, and more. The Koka crew definitely satisfies the appetite after a morning of snorkelling, with a huge amount of food and as many serves as you can eat. The crew also didn’t mind posing for photos, as you can see below!
While we eat, surrounded by the tall palm trees and with sand under our feet giving you the ultimate island feel, the Koka crew continued to play music on the stage and continue the happiness and good vibes. Honestly, I will say it again – these guys keep everyone so happy with their music, my face hurt from smiling so much.
After lunch is finished, we were treated to a presentation about life on Rarotonga, shown fashion tips using a sarong and the importance and many uses of the coconuts around the island. The Cook Island locals really have thought of everything they can use the coconut for – from food and snacks, to moisturizer, hair treatment and a delicious drink. We were even shown how to climb a coconut tree!
Before we leave Koromiri Island, the Koka crew get all the kids on the tour involved in a hermit crab race. As soon as those little crabs are let go, they just bolt for the circular finish lines! The only rules of the race are to keep an eye on your crab, to make sure they’re all collected again at the end.
As the crab race came to an end, we jumped back onto the boats and headed back to the mainland of Rarotonga, guided up the front of the boat by the Cook’s dog!
All the info
Koka Lagoon Cruises leave at 10am every morning from Sunday to Friday and goes for about 3.5 hours.
Price: $79NZD per adult.
Includes: Guided snorkelling at the Marine Reserve, a glass bottom boat tour, delicious fish BBQ, a demonstration from the Coconut Tree Climbing King, onboard entertainment all day, snorkelling gear and return hotel transfers.
Location: You will find Koka Lagoon Cruises right on Muri Beach, beside the Muri Beachcomber Resort. From the main road there’s a huge sign, so you won’t miss the turn off.
> Muri Beach, Rarotonga
Getting there: The team at Koka will pick you up from your hotel before your cruise if you arrange it at the time of booking, but if you choose to drive down to the beach there’s parking available right next to the beach. Just follow the sign from the main road.
For more information visit kokalagooncruise.com.
We had an absolutely amazing morning with Koka Lagoon Cruises, we couldn’t stop talking about our experience for the rest of our trip. We recommended it to everyone we met on other tours, and if you’re heading to the Cook Islands, we can’t recommend it highly enough as the best way to experience Rarotonga.
A huge thank-you to Koka Lagoon Cruises for welcoming and hosting us on our cruise around Muri Lagoon. We had an absolutely fabulous experience, and all opinions are, as always, our own.
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