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On Rarotonga, on the Cook Islands, it was a calm afternoons, when Lydia Nga received the message. Over night their home, 15 Polyynesian islands just outside Tahiti, a haven smaller than Detroit, sprouted through exponentials and was born again as a 690,000 sq. m. large state. It wasn't the islands that were growing. The Third United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 states that a" maritime area", which is a 200-mile sea, is the responsibility of the States.
Almost forward 35 years before last August and our first visit to Rarotonga, the capital city, attracted by the thought of gleaming blues in the lagoon, soft breeze, hometown smile and less tourists per year than Florida's Disneyworld in two and a half-day. Has Rarotonga's triumph corrupted Polynesia's charm? "Last time we checked, the cookies were like Hawaii in the'60s, 50 years behind everyone else," she said.
When our night flights from Los Angeles descends over a series of lush volcano tops, my first glance at the Laguna, its sand coast, dispersed rooftops and palm trees was soothing. Thought we' d welcome sunrise with a walk on the shore, chill out in the lake, maybe even snorkeling near the outside sandbar where the corals clump into hills.
Before we headed to the Laguna, we visited the marine specialist Kevin Iro to inform us about the Marae Moana Marine Park nature reserve and to find out why a thorough investigation of every wrinkle and waviness within the 690,000 sq. m. of the Cook's is long past due. "The Marae Moana means sea domain," said Iro, a sporty character in short trousers, leading us and half a half a dozen grammar students into a narrow auditorium with lines of tables, decorating only a large television set for presentation and half a dozen backlit photographs of exotic marine game.
"He said, "The sea domain is a state of thought, an idea," and put a map on the monitor. "He declared not as islands, but as a sea country. There was also time for a freshly-catched, barbecued seafood in one of the many cafés by the sea, where picknick tables provide entertainment.
When our friends were island dwellers during the luncheon they described the historical link of chefs to New Zealand, where almost everyone has a relative and annual trips are the rule. If it' time for school, ambitioned undergraduates usually go to New Zealand or Australia. In the Moorings Cafe we found out that the Maoris from New Zealand originated from Rarotonga.
In Charlie's Cafe I was delighted to sit with some of the Cook Islands Maori, one of the few Polish language still in use. As a compulsory course at schools, it continues to live despite a supporting part in World War II, in the tourist industry and even mobile phones. Curiously about the remainder of Rarotonga, we chose to hire Mountainbikes to discover the 20 miles long district street, "a good way to get your bearings", my guide says.
As no visit would be complete without a few nights on the neighbouring Aitutaki (eye-too-TOCK-kee), world-famous for its Laguna, we crossed over, check into a surface stateroom at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and book a tour of the Laguna with Tere (pronounced "Terry"), owners of Te King Lagoon Cross. We piled up in Teres 12-person dinghy and drove southwards across the Laguna, circumnavigated the islands, looked for reefs and stopped for snorkelling.
After spending a mornings in the centre of one of these shimmery blue aquaria - seas in a deep blue sea wall - you can't help but be amazed. Shielded from winds and swell, but constantly freshened by the overflow of the oceans, the camp's one-of-a-kind eco-system nourishes migratory lagoons, migratory animals, crustaceans, shellfish, molluscs, corals and any other sea creature, human beings included.
While we were staring ourselves in reverence, Tere was peppering us with Maori legend, celebrities and sea-biologists. We made a stop on One Foot Iceland - where "been, loved" registration tokens are handed out - and a barbecued chickens picknick. Chef Minar Henderson prepares supper for 20 to 26 people and serves it only twice a months, offering not only a mixture of typical insular flavours, but also an evenings with the people of the islands, for the culture tradition and sci- ni? cies of the 21. centennial.
The weather: It is best to travel in the United States in June to September, when it is hot and humid. The only non-stop service from the USA to Rarotonga, Air New Zealand will offer a nine-hour service on a new Boeing 777 with commercial, corporate and high-end seating (including stylish flatbed seats).
The Cook Islands Tourism: You can find small hostels and family-run guesthouses that provide convenient and accessible accommodation on the Cook Islands tourist pages. Rarotonga and Aitutaki provide all the comforts, lush scenery, a dining room, lounge, pub and private area. Prices differ depending on the date, height and view of the sea or the gardens.
Aitutaki plot has extra rooms in the outbuilding. Accommodation at Aitutaki Lagoon Estate, the only small motor racing resorts, range from humble self-catering huts to large and attractive villas. There is a large swimming pools and a large dining area; the campsite is secluded and has excellent views of the area.
Now Rarotonga has several five-star real estate, some with spa facilities. Search for rumors of luxury villas & spa, Te Manava luxury villas & spa and Nautilus Resort, all on Muri Beach, on the south-east shore of Rarotonga.