Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
There are two ways to explore Rarotonga: you can either rent a scooter and drive the one road that goes around the island or you can hike over the mountains and straight through it. Each trip takes about a day. Being as we had more than 2 days, we did both.
Now the first thing you have to do to rent a scooter in Rarotonga is probably the best part of the whole experience. You have to get your Cook Islands’ driver’s license. Which of course involves a rigorous and lengthy 20 minute driver’s exam and a government fee. This very arduous test is broken up into 4 critical parts:
1) Drive down road (remember, they drive on the wrong side!!)
2) Go around roundabout (definitely the curveball for us Americans)
3) Come back down road (other side! Other side!)
4) Turn off road.
It amuses us that the people who are approved by the government to administer this exam are the scooter rental companies; who are coincidently the exact same people who have the most financial gain to realize upon the student passing the exam.
“But wait” you may protest. “I already have a driver’s license!” Doesn’t matter. The Cook Islands only recognize Cook island driver’s licenses as legal in their country. That means if you want to rent a car, scooter or anything else, you need to take the exam and pay the fee. You may be thinking this is nothing more than a government-sanctioned scam to milk a few extra bucks out of the tourists and you would be 100% correct but it’s cool because not only do you get a totally awesome personalized souvenir of your time here but you also get a way out of speeding tickets in your home country for the next 12 months!
Nothing against American law enforcement or anything but come on, no one knows where this license is from or what languages they speak there. Next time Greg’s pulled over he’s pulling this baby out and breaking out with the French. Worse case scenario? He gets some points deducted from his Cook Islands driver’s license and a fine mailed to a now empty yacht slip in a foreign country. SCORE!!
Having obtained our driver’s licenses we could join the proud ranks of what passes for biker gangs in Polynesia…
And get out to see what this island had to offer!
Like this article? For more about modern life in the South Pacific Islands check out our time on Papetee, Tahiti by clicking here “We’ve Reached Civilization Indeed“.