It was my first ever dive trip and I was extremely excited. It was actually a family holiday with my Uncle, Aunt and 2 cousins, but I made it my business to get there a week early and spend some quality time with the underwater world. I wasn’t disappointed.

Upon flying from Sydney via Auckland, over the International Date Line, then landing in Rarotonga (yesterday) you are immediately forced to slow down, forget your worries and adapt to island time. This was made evident by hundreds of people getting off the jumbo jet to queue in front of one happy little customs officer, slowly stamping passports without much of a sense of urgency.  Normally this would make me furious, but the man in the Hawaiian shirt playing a ukulele in the arrivals hall somehow made it all better.

I was staying at Rarotonga Backpackers. As well as their main building right on the beach, complete with hammocks under the palm trees, they also have private bungalows just down the road set in a beautiful garden setting. With my own private balcony, a kitchenette, store on the corner and dive shop down the street I was sorted and ready to explore!

Rarotonga is the perfect place to recharge your batteries, because to be honest there isn’t a great deal to do except lay around and enjoy the sun and the sand. The island has one road that circumnavigates the island, no traffic lights, 2 pubs and 2 buses (one that travels clockwise and the other anticlockwise) that take 23 minutes to do a round trip. Though most of the time when waiting for a bus, the locals stop and pick you up to give you a lift as after a couple of days you will have met most of them anyhow.

Dive Rarotonga building

You can’t miss it: Dive Rarotonga

I spent my days diving with Dive Rarotonga. Karen and Ed (the owners) run a fantastic operation and the conditions are perfect for beginner divers. Marine life requires big ocean currents to thrive; this is one of the reasons why more advanced diving throws better results. Due to the position of Rarotonga in the Pacific Ocean they simply don’t get these currents which means that these warm, flat, calm waters are just paradise for a new diver. The flip side is that you don’t get the abundance of fish you might experience in other parts of the South Pacific, though I’m sure that over fishing may also have something to do with that.

It was here that I saw my first shark in the deep blue. They were a couple of reef sharks at 15 meters and that was the very start of my continuing fascination. Karen and divemaster Charles also pointed out lots of beautiful creatures and answered my never ending questions on the surface of fish names, why they do that, how and why and how do you spell that for my log book please. My enthusiasm was a bit of a running joke and Karen assured me that one day I would be a divemaster…

Once my family arrived our activities became more land based besides an afternoon snorkel for a few hours and a dip in the pool. This was a great chance for us to check out some of the more extravagant resorts, their restaurants and their swim up bars! A day at Muri Lagoon is a must. The water so beautifully clear with the whitest of white sand. It’s also a good chance to check out the kite surfers in action.

In the evening Trader Jacks is the most popular place on the island serving ice cold beer and counter meals all day and night long. Once it closes the ‘Whatever Bar’ next door will entertain you until the last person leaves. Thankfully for my liver I never seemed to find out when that actually was 🙂 If you are after an all you can eat buffet and a cultural dance show then the Crown Beach Resort next to the dive shop run fantastic evenings 3 nights a week for $50.

Overall a great destination for the ultimate recharge, and perfect for beginner divers.

Tip: If staying in the cheaper accommodation on the island, you can still use the facilities in the big five star resorts such as swimming pools, bars and restaurants. As long as you buy a drink they don’t seem to mind.