As a general rule of thumb, we’re not into group activities. When we land somewhere new, we prefer to split off from the tourist throngs and explore on our own. The Koka Lagoon Cruise in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, is the rare exception. We’d heard good things about the family-owned company’s Muri Lagoon outings from our villa managers and, well, it’s not like we can rent our own glass-bottom boat for the day. So we, along with the other pasty and sunburnt tourists (most of whom were visiting from New Zealand and Australia), climbed aboard the Reva Moana at Muri Beach and braced ourselves for the onslaught of tourist cheese.
Well, the joke’s on us—because this cruise was awesome. The personable captain and hard-working crew busted their tails to keep the troops amused. They told stories, sang songs, and played the ukulele. They raced up a coconut tree and taught us how to crack open the spoils. They offered a 101 history lesson of the Cook Islands to any guest that would listen and were game to answer questions about local culture. (Captain Awesome, a.k.a. Papa Jack, hails from the island of Pukapuka and is a fount of knowledge.)
Most notably for a lagoon cruise, the team escorted us to the best local snorkeling spots, where we swam with radiant fish and giant clams. When the waves got too strong and we were pulled uncomfortably far from the boat, two crew members leapt into the water with life preservers. They swam us back to safety—which would be humiliating if they weren’t so good-natured and funny about it. Back on the beach at Motu Koromiri, the Koka crew barbecued delectable, fresh-caught fish and served it alongside an array of tropical salads.
Was some of the entertainment corny? Sure. And no doubt your overall enjoyment of the outing will depend hugely on who else is on your boat. (The Reva Moana seats 35 guests and the Tai Marino seats 55, but we lucked out and had maybe a dozen tourists on board.) But the crew itself? A+++ all the way.
The Muri Lagoon day trip costs $79 NZ ($55.65 USD) for adults, with discounts for families and children. Tours depart at 10 a.m. daily and last 3.5 hours. Hotel transfers can be arranged upon request.
To book, call +682-55-769 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.