The Cook Islands – IES Abroad Trip

Katelyn Steike
June 9, 2014

The third week of break, I went on the IES Abroad sponsored field trip to the Cook Islands!  If you come here through IES Abroad, you absolutely must go!  It’s not a place I would have planned a vacation to myself, but I’m glad I went.  It was more about bonding with the other students in the group and learning about the Cook Island culture.  Normally when I’ve visited different countries, people always talk about the cultural differences, but culture seems to be something in the background, with more subtle differences from what I’m used to.  The Cook Islands was completely different.  Because the country is so small, the people there are all very connected with each other and their culture.  They were all very welcoming and excited to share their culture with us so that we could go home and tell others.  I was expecting a tourist trap when I heard that almost 90% of the income in the Cook Islands is from tourism, but it was anything but that.  While there are a lot of tourists, there are no big resorts or hotels on the island, only small hostels and inns.  There is only one road, that goes around the circumference of the island.  It was really different to adjust to the lifestyle there, even if we were only there for 7 days.  I think one of my favorite things was that there were friendly dogs everywhere we went.  They were all really sweet and just wanted to play or hang out with you.  I really enjoyed my time in the Cook Islands, and especially having the week to really get to know the rest of the IES Abroad group.


Clubbing Redefined. For dinner one night, we went to a mini-golf place where you get to play while you wait for dinner.


It was so warm there, beach time was amazing


Sun bathing with our favorite dog


Dipping our feet in the water behind the inn we stayed at


Snorkeling was one of my favorite things we did there. We saw some amazing things, including an octopus!


Group snorkeling shot!


Me and the octopus! (bottom center… the red blob)


A friendly dog came to swim with us when we were done snorkeling


The cross island bike ride was one of my other favorite things we did. We all went on mountain bikes with a tour guide that told us all about the island the the people there. It was really fun. At the end, those of us who wanted to go on a slightly more intense mountain biking trail got to go while the rest of the group hung out on the beach.


Another biking pic


For our lunch break on the biking trip, all the girls took a dip in the ocean


…And drank some coconut water fresh from coconuts


The cross island hike was amazing.


Lunch break!


We had a cultural day at the Mangaian hostel where they taught us about Cook Island culture. We even weaved our dinner plates out of leaves.


Dinner at the Mangian Hostel in our new sarongs and leaf pieces


The girls Hula competition


We went out paddling on a vaka


Group shot at the beach


The best ice-cream I’ve ever had… it was passionfruit flavoured


All the girls in one of the bedrooms at the inn


I’m not usually a church goer, but we went since it’s a big part of the cook islands culture and it was actually really amazing. I didn’t understand much because the service was in Maori, but there was a lot of song and they were all amazing singers


One last beach picture with another dog.  The traditional Vaka is in the background.


Katelyn Steike

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Katie Steike and I&#39;m a junior at the University of Rochester, studying molecular genetics and music. I love reading, playing soccer, and going on hikes and adventures! I&#39;m going to be studying in Christchurch New Zealand for spring 2014 and I&#39;m excited to become immersed in the Kiwi culture and explore the beautiful country!</span></p>

Home University:
University of Rochester
Biological Sciences
Explore Blogs