Getting Cooked in the Cook Islands!
We made it to the Cook Islands! And if you have been following along on my Instagram stories or on some of my Facebook photos, you might have noticed that Bryce and I got a little too much sun while being here. Okay, maybe "a little too much sun" is underplaying just how burnt we actually got. The Cooked Islands literally COOKED us (pun intended) and this is the story of how that exactly happened, even when we tried very hard to avoid getting burnt in this tropical paradise.
After 17 hours of travel (including our layover in LA), Bryce and I finally made it to the Cook Islands. It was a 9.5 hour overnight flight with Air New Zealand from LAX to the Rarotonga (Cook Islands). We arrived nice and early to the Cook Islands on January 20 at around 7:00 a.m. which left us with an entire day to get out and start exploring the Island!
Bryce and I couldn't check-in to our Bungalow until 10 a.m. and so we had about 3 hours to kill. We decided that we would walk to our Bungalow, which was only a 6 km walk away and should take us about 1.5 to 2 hours max. How bad could it be at 7:00 a.m. in the morning?
HOT! It was HOT! O, so much hotter than I thought it was going to be at that time. It was 7:00 a.m. and already +25 out. Us crazy Canadians clearly forgot about what the heat feels like. And when you have been experiencing below 0 temperatures for some time, the heat feels extra hot. But we were determined and persisted...and the view wasn't too horrible!
As we made our way to our Bungalow, Bryce and I made sure we walked in the shady spots when possible (often, no shade to be found!), drank lots of water, took some breaks (we were each carrying about 8kg of weight in our bag), and most importantly, put on sun screen! We did not want to burn at all on our first day in paradise. We lathered on our SPF 50 sunscreen about 10 minutes into our walk. However, it seemed like our sweat wasn't letting the sunscreen absorb into our skin. About 40 minutes later, we found a shady area and put on more sunscreen, attempting to protect our pasty white skin.
At around 9:00 a.m., we made it to our landmark, Super Brown's 24 hour Market. Our bungalow was located only 200 meters down from this store, and luckily, they had benches and shade! With one more hour to waste, we decided that just sitting in the shade would be nice. We drank lots of water, re-applied our sunscreen, and just relaxed, watching the few scooters and cars cruise by.
Finally, it was 10:00 a.m. and we could finally check-in to our Bungalow! We were greeted with waving arms and excitement from the property manager, Yis. She was a sweet lady from Australia that was looking after the property while the owners were away. Yis was impressed that we walked 6km from the airport to the Bungalows in this hot sun, and we shrugged it off that it was no big deal, even though we were both very sweaty messes. After a quick tour of the property and being shown into our room, Bryce and I immediately changed into our swim suits. It was time to cool down!
After lathering on more sunscreen, (which didn't seem to be working well in the heat), Bryce and I headed for the pool for a swim. O, the water felt so nice against our hot skin! Immediately, we both felt our bodies cooling down and we swam for around an hour, enjoying the sun, blue skies, and beautiful green mountain views. We could even hear the waves crashing against the reef from our bungalow. At this point, we knew that we were truly in paradise!
At around 12:30 p.m., Bryce and I decided that it was time for us to get out of the pool. The exhaustion from the last few days of prepping for our trip and the traveling to get here finally hit us. We both went into our bungalow and took a 4.5 hour nap! I haven't been in that deep of a sleep in a long time. Our bodies definitely needed it.
Once we finally woke up, feeling so much more refreshed and rested I looked at my arms. Beat RED! My legs, RED! My face, even REDDER! Bryces shoulders, arms and face were red too. How could this happen? We bought spf 50 sunscreen, and re-applied it many times throughout the morning. This is exactly what we were trying to avoid have happen to us - getting burnt!
Bryce and I still had an evening left to enjoy on the Island, and with the sun still out, we thought we better put on more sunscreen, and maybe go buy some new stuff since ours doesn't seem to be working too well. As we started to lather our bodies up with this white lotion, I noticed something. Maybe because I was no longer sleep deprived and my senses were actually working, but the sunscreen that we had been using smelt different. Usually it should smell like coconuts, but this one smelt like lavender. In complete horror, I realized that Bryce and I were slathering on my body lotion, not sunscreen, this entire time! We were glistening up our bodies in oil for the sun to literally fry up!
How did we make such a mistake!?
Since Bryce and I are travelling with only our backpacks as carry-on, each of us are only allowed so much for liquids. We purchased these great silicon travel bottles and transferred all of our lotions and liquids into them (sunscreen, after-sun lotion, body lotion, shampoo & conditioner). We bought full-sized bottles of sunscreen and after-sun lotion in Canada as we knew it would be double the price on the island, and then separated them into the different bottles. We split the bottles up evenly, and then I gave Bryce my sunscreen bottle to carry as I couldn't fit it in my liquids bag. I completely forgot that I gave Bryce my sunscreen, and he forgot too.
So when we first arrived to the Cook Islands, I grabbed the "sunscreen" from my bag, and without a second thought, we both put it on, and continued to put it on. As a result, our skin turned red and was very tender for the next 4 days. Though this made for some uncomfortable sleeps and wearing long sleeves in the heat (not fun) for a few days, this silly mishap makes for a pretty funny story and a memorable start to our Big Trip!
Lesson Learned: Make sure to LABEL all of your bottles. So far, these silicone bottles have been absolutely fantastic (no leaks yet), but I suggest labeling them in large writing to avoid this mistake.
Stay tuned for more stories from the Cook Islands and some of the MUST-Dos if you ever plan on visiting this little piece of paradise.
Brittany & Bryce