Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Rarotonga and Aitutaki

Old Aug 23rd, 2009, 07:10 PM
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Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Rarotonga and Aitutaki

Hi All:
Two of us are trying to finalize a trip to Australia and the Cook islands for two weeks in mid February. and we are from New England
We have good accomadation suggestions already from previous posts Thank you all.
Three Questions?
1.Can you review my itinerary please.below? Is this itinerary adequete for a first visit ?

Sydney 5 days
Great Barrier Reef 1.5-2 days
Rarotonga 2 or 3 days ??
Aitutaki 1 or 2 days?

2..Is mid February a good summer month for this visit?

3. Airlines? Does anyone have experience with these airlines?
American Boston to Lax
Quantas Lax to Sydney then after Great Barrier Reef
Air New Zealand Sydney to Rarotonga
Air Rarotonga to Aitutaki back to Rarotonga
Rarotonga to Lax Air New Zealand or Rarotonga- Auckland NZ to Lax Quantas

Of course 2 weeks might not be alot of time but if we enjoy this short amount of time we may go back for an extended stay.
We are defintely city people so that is why 5 days in Sydney. We also love the ocean swimming and snorkleing as well as lying on the beach. We are choosing the Cook Islands instead of French Polenesia as it is less touristy but probably very beautiful too.

I appreciate everyone's imput. I tried to do alot of homework myself as I have been planning this trip for a few years. This trip was postponed as this May I had the opportunity to go to Paris to a friend's apt and travel to beautiful Helsinki and the beautiful city of St. Petersburg Russia. Now it is time for a South Pacific Adventure.

I look forward to your suggestions and good coments.
Kappy is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2009, 09:47 PM
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Cairns is an awfully long way to go from Sydney for such a short visit; while appreciating that you like cities, I'd suggest 3 days at least in Cairns - there's more to do up there than just the Reef.

Qantas (no "u") and Air NZ are both good airlines.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2009, 10:41 PM
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Suggest you do your city thing and one other site. Too much time in the air for the time on the ground.

As Neil says there is a lot to do in Cairns and area after you have done the reef!
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2009, 12:58 AM
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If you are going to the GBR why are you going to the Cook Islands? 1.5 days is not enough time as the GBR is more than just a reef there is enough to do and see to take up 2 weeks there.
You could think of using Air Pacific from LA to Sydney which flies into Fiji and stop over there instead of going the way you have thought of. Air Pacific is part owned by Qantas and is a good airline. They also have great deals in Fiji.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Old Aug 28th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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Thank you all for the info. I dd not realize that there was so much to do in Cairns other than relaxing snorkling and diving.
I was told by a neighbor not to miss the Cook Islands while in the Pacific as they said it was a less touristy French Polenesia but similar. So you say Great Barrier is similar to the Cook Islands? I did not know that either. What are the similarities?
My other question is the following:
Is February a good time for a visit?
Kappy is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2009, 09:47 PM
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Air New Zealand and Qantas are both excellent airlines. You have to remember that the South Pacific is an enormous area and you will be limited in what you see in two weeks, considering how much flying you'll be doing. Sydney is special and worth your time. If you are adventurous, take the BridgeClimb on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Try to take a sidetrip to either the Hunter Valley wine area or the Blue Mountains.
The GBR stretches over 1500 miles with many islands. You will need more time than you plan. Cairns is in Far North Queensland and there are many attractions in addition to GBR including pristine Rainforest. You would need 3-4 full days and your time could be divided between Cairns and Port Douglas. If you can't allot that much time, you might consider NOT going that far north. Fly to Gladstone above Brisbane and go out to Heron Island or from coast near Brisbane, perhaps a boat trip to Fraser Island. The problem is travel time between any of these points and I doubt if it could be done in less than 3 days 2 nights. A GBR island easier to reach is Hamilton as there are flights right from Sydney. But know Hamilton is much more commercial - several types of hotels, attractions, restaurants, etc. and it's not right on the reef but there are boat tours going further out to the reef.
I disagree with the reviewer saying Cook Islands would be the like GBR. Totally different atmosphere although still beaches and water sports, etc. The Cooks are definitely an alternative to Tahiti and the scenery is gorgeous. Aitutaki and the spectacular lagoon is breathtaking. Again though - so much flying time to get to and from. You ask about Air Rarotonga going to Aitutaki - you have no choice as it's the local airline. Very friendly Polynesian people in the Cooks and they speak English - it's administered by New Zealand.
Weather may not be so good in the Cooks-could be lots of rain in Feb. Summer in Australia. Can be hot and humid in Cairns.
I was a So.Pac. travel specialist so let me know if you have more questions.
lcls is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2009, 05:31 PM
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Thank you lsls.
I do have a few more questions.
I do want to see Sydney and climb the bridge which is on my agenda as well as going to the Great Barrier Reef and Aitutaki.
If I stretch my vacation to 2.5 weeks would it be possible to visit all the above?

My trip would be 5 days in Sydney 3 days at the Reef and maybe 3 days on the Cook islands including Rarotonga.

When would be the best time to visit all the above places?
I do want it to be warm but not to humid and of course not rainy.

Is the Great Barrier Reef like a larger Carribean Reef like Buck Island in St Croix Us Virgin Islands and like Trunk Bay in St John Us Virgin Islands?

If you only had a certain amount of time would you go to the Barrier Reef or Aitutaki and Rarotonga?
I have been to many Carribean Islands and Hawaii which sound similar to the Reef but have never been at the Pacific other than Hawaii and Ca. I have been told not to go to Tahiti as it is very touristy and expensive. I do like quiet places near water or going to exciting cities and I have been told not to miss Sydney.
Please advise.
Thanks in Advance
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 04:02 PM
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I have been doing alot of investigation work for planning this trip and it seems like Australia might be good for the whole trip. (2 weeks total including flying there)
I really wanted to see Aitutaki but the airtime is to much and I think that going to the Great Barrier Reef as well as Sydney will give me a great perspective of the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea. Maybe not as good as Tahiti or the Cooks but similiar as far as shared oceans.
My new Itinerary is the following: flying from the east coast of the usa.

1. Sydney 5 days including some beach trips and other side trips

2. Great Barrier Reef 5 days

Please let me know what you think of my itinerary
Kappy is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 05:48 PM
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I think you'd get a lot out of limiting your itinerary to just 2 destinations, Kappy. Five days in Sydney will give you a good opportunity to explore the city, its surrounds and perhaps even a day or so somewhere a little further afield - the Open Plains Zoo at Dubbo, for example. You could rent a car, see the Blue Mountains, some lovely country towns, wine country around Bathurst & Orange in the Central West and visit one of the world's great open zoos. I'd recommend two nights for this loop, but you could certainly do it with one overnight stop.

Likewise, you could explore the hinterland of the Great Barrier Reef, have a night on a live-aboard boat, do some diving or snorkelling.Take night tour to see nocturnal wildlife. You might even go up to Cooktown. FNQ (Far North Queensland) is fascinating and you're not trying to squeeze it all into 24 hours.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 01:20 AM
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Bokhara2, good advice.
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Kappy....limiting yourself to 2 stops (Sydney-Cairns) is a wise choice. Going in February, you'll be able to enjoy nice beach weather in Sydney. There are some gorgeous beaches up and down the coast. As others have said, there is a lot more to North Queensland (Cairns area) than the Barrier Reef - you will not run out of things to do and see in your five days there.

Ralph, CT, USA
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Old Sep 3rd, 2009, 06:32 AM
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Thanks for the great advise.
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Old Jun 15th, 2010, 11:29 AM
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Hi Kappy: By now you would have completed your trip to Australia and the South Pacific. I'm sure a number of us would be interested to hear what you finally did and your comments on the trip. Hope you had a great time. G'day! lcls
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 03:03 PM
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I just ran across this thread.
Won't the weather be really rainy for the GBR visit in February?
SanDiegoSue is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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Sorry lcls
Change of plans. Nothing to report.
I took a trip to Paris, Helsinki, Moscow and St. Petersburg Russia instead last May for my partner's 60th.
This year in February Puerto Rico.
My trip to the South Pacific I am afraid will not happen until 2012 or 2013 in the winter. It will be a 60th bday trip.
I will then report to you and everyone else that is interested. I will change the trip to include Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef no Cook Islands unfortunately as it would take to much time and is a little out of the way.
Thanks for the heads up about the weather. I will think about another month when I do go there.
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Old Jul 17th, 2010, 09:29 PM
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The Solomon Islands would be the best of the South Pacific but then Vanuatu ( French) is nice and I would not get too excited about the Cook Islands anyway - bye the way. If you do make up a trip using the ideas of the above posters i.e liveaboard and only doing 2 destinations you will have a much better time than trying to cram things into your trip.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
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