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Tattoo News - February 2003


As many of you know I just returned from the Cook Islands. It was a good trip, although very different from my previous Pacific travels. For those that have been on my Tahiti/Marquesas tours, this is VERY different! Very civilized, very clean, and everything is readily available. But there is not near as much in the way of tattooing and other arts. The scenery is every bit as spectacular and there is FANTASTIC DANCE! A good website that includes the art & culture of the Cooks is at The best photo site I've found is Although I would not necessarily recommend the accommodations listed, this is a fun photo tour & will give you a good sense of
what the islands look like.

I am considering leading a small tour group (10 to 12 people) there in early June. It would cater to both those interested in water sports (kayaking, snorkeling, outrigger canoes, sailing & diving) and the dance and drumming (so you drummers & dancers can take a workshop with locals while another group dives/snorkels). Aprox. cost inclusive of all ground transport, accommodations,
most meals & interisland airfare (not travel to & from Rarotonga) $2850. NZ (or about $1800. US, pending the exchange rate) for 2 islands, 15 days. If you are interested, send me an e-mail with COOK ISLAND TRIP as the subject Also let me know your primary interest. If you are interested in going on your own, or just in learning more, read on.

The best thing about the Cook Islands is definitely the people. They are extremely friendly toward visitors. If you are bicycling down the street on one of the outer islands, nearly everyone you pass smiles and waves. It's amazing. It's also clean, and overall just very civilized compared to many islands. There is far less poverty than elsewhere. Nearly everything you might need is available, including excellent, affordable healthcare. It would be a good place to vacation with kids. The only danger is dengue fever.

Again, there is not much happening in the visual arts. There are two tattooists currently working on the main island, Rarotonga. There is some wood carving and weaving. As for other textile arts Tivaivai (brightly colored quilts) and Tav Creations handpainted clothing are popular. Dance and drumming in the Cooks is spectacular, especially on the outer islands. We saw 7 dance performances and all but 2 were fantastic. Cook Islands dance is very similar to Tahitian dance, in fact this is where it originates. If you are considering going, now is the time. Aloha Airlines has extended their low introductory fares ($670. R/T from the west Coast, or $440. from Hawaii), see

Rarotonga is beautiful, but to really see island life you have to get to the outer islands. The easiest and by far the cheapest way to do this is to book your inter-island package through Island Hoppers Vacations-- They have access to lower fares that must be purchased locally. We saved nearly $100. NZ over the published web price. They can create any package for you. You will probably be dealing with Teina, Fiona or Jeremy-- tell them Hi from me! On the exchange rate-- right now you get $1.64 New Zealand for every US dollar.

On the main island of Rarotonga there is good shopping, great views, some strenuous (but beautiful) hikes, and swimming/snorkeling. Snorkeling is still good, unless you compare it to Bora Bora or Rangiroa, but then nothing compares with snorkeling there. The reef is dying, so we were a bit disappointed. As for accommodations, here's my recommendations:

If you have big bucks, go for Reflections of Rarotonga-- The best snorkeling near here is high tide at Fruits of Rarotonga.

For great mid-range oceanfront accommodations, go to Aro'a Beachside Inn-- Tell Jim that Tricia sent you for introductory special rates (ranging from $120. to $260. NZ up per night). Aro'a
has good swimming/snorkeling at all tides (most places don't). Cute private bungalows on the water (no swimming) can be had for $100. NZ per night at Sunrise Beach Bungalows or fax 011-682 20417. The best value on the island is the dorm at Vara's for $20. NZ per night, if you don't mind a backpackers atmosphere. Vara's is on Muri beach, which is beautiful, but pretty
poor for swimming. See Almost all accommodations in the Cooks have kitchenettes that are pretty well equipped.

After 4 days on Rarotonga, we went first to the atoll of Aitutaki, which has the friendliest people on earth and a beautiful lagoon. Here you'll find good snorkeling, diving, and fantastic scenery. See If you can afford it, stay at Are Temanu- or
Aitutaki Lodges, For less expensive accommodations, Sunny's Beach Lodge is good (esp. if you are travelling with kids) and can be booked through Island Hoppers, or Ranginui's retreat, If you stay at Ranginui's, you will definately need wheels. Regardless, at some point I'd rent a scooter or bike & circle the island. See the dance shows at the Pacific Beach and the Coconut Crusher Bar.

Our next stop was Atiu, our favorite island. See and It is a raised limestone island, so it's very different geologically than the other islands. There are amazing limestone formations with massive ferns growing out of them in a rain forest setting. Caves are everywhere, including burial caves that you can enter by hiring a guide that is a member of the family. All the inhabitants (530 of them) live inland, unlike most of the Pacific. Bicycling, hiking or walking the many dirt roads (they are more like trails) or scootering around the island is amazing. The Atiu Fiber Arts Center website is at: There is also a great dance group here. There are only 3 choices of
accomodations here, and Kopeka Lodge is by FAR the best. E-mail or fax 682 33284. Pass on my Aloha to the owners! Ask at the Atiu Hotel about dance performances.

Well I hope I haven't bored you with Cook Islands links & info. It is a beautiful place well worth seeing.


Currently I am in Honolulu via both phone & e-mail (until Feb 12th). If you are interested in an appointment, CALL SOON! You can reach me at (808) 734-8677, but please keep in mind that we are 2 hours earlier than the west coast. For details on how to sign up for an appointment, see or stop by any of the California locations listed on the website to sign up in person & see samples of my work.

My schedule:

Home - Jan 29th through Feb. 11th
Los Angeles - Feb. 14th through Feb. 23rd
*N. San Diego County - Feb 25th through Mar. 3rd
San Francisco - Mar. 8th through 16th
Redwood City Mar 8, 9, and 10th
Livermore March 11th thru 16th

* indicates a change in dates from previously published schedules

Aloha! Tricia

Copyright © 1999 - 2010 Tricia Allen