As one would expect since they’re located in the tropics, the Cook Islands are full of beautiful tropical foliage! There are, of course, palm trees everywhere, and I’m a huge fan of hibiscus flowers so I loved seeing huge blooms at nearly every turn. There were a number of plants I wasn’t expecting to see in the tropics, such as trees that looked more like conifers/evergreen trees. I wish I knew what all the species were but alas…I’m terrible at plant identification and biology in general. ;)
We caught the bus to visit the Maire Nui Gardens in the Titikaveka area of Rarotonga and spent some time wandering around, checking out all of the beautiful foliage, and trying to avoid spider webs! Some of those webs were gnarly. Luckily, most of them were up high and not in the walking path. Whew. The entry fee is a suggested donation of NZ $5 each, and we didn’t see anyone else there the whole time until the very end. There is a café, but it was closed when we were there and I’m not sure when it will open back up. I do wish the plants had been identified with little cards since I had no idea what anything was! I think I was able to identify the plants in the photos we got with Google.
We visited the gardens on what ended up being one of the only really sunny days of our week on the island, and boy was it hot when that sun was out! We were there right over the vernal equinox (autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere) so the sun was high in the sky but not quite at its highest point. Still, though. Whew! I forgot how brutal full sun is in the tropics. It got cloudy shortly after we left the gardens—of course—and we were very thankful for that. ;)
I have to admit that it was super weird to have the sun to our north instead of to the south! This trip was my first time (well, and Korri’s first time) south of the equator, so I felt like I was hyperaware of all the differences, haha. It was really cool. I will note that the toilet did not flush the other direction…actually it didn’t swirl at all. I didn’t see one toilet with a bowl like the ones we have in the U.S. This post went in a weird direction…oops! Ha.
Anyway...! I mentioned in a previous post that I only brought one pair of pants (these amazing beach pants) and one pair of shorts (seen here) to mix and match throughout the week. I planned to spend a lot of time in swimsuits and coverups, and I didn’t feel like my one pair of pants and shorts got too dirty in just a few days. I’m really glad I didn’t overpack the bottoms (I just brought one more top than I needed). I also didn’t probably need my belt bag as much as I enjoyed wearing it on this day! And my navy Salt Water sandals were only worn on this day, too. I suppose next time I can only bring a couple of pairs of sandals; I brought three, one of which was my old pair of Teva flip-flop type sandals that I ended up wearing more than I thought I would because it rained so much.
I purchased this Uniqlo cardigan with this trip in mind. It has UV protection, which was perfect on the hot, sunny days. It was actually a little bit too warm to wear when the sun was out but I liked having the extra light layer when the clouds appeared. And my arms and shoulders never burned with it on, so that’s good! I love wearing long cardigan with shorts so this was an easy combination. I wore this combo one other time on our trip with my white tee and baseball cap, and I’m sure I’ll pull it out again for future trips to warm destinations.