If you really want to immerse yourself in some true Cook Islands culture, get yourself over to Rarotonga between the 18-25 November when the 13th annual Vaka Eiva paddling festival will be taking place.For the uninitiated, Vaka Eiva is arguably the biggest sporting event on the Cook Islands sporting calendar and will see close to 600 paddlers competing over 65 action packed races. From humble beginning back in 2004, the festival has really grown and competitors return year after year to participate in this fantastic event and celebration. Pacific Resort is very proud to be a Silver Sponsor of this awesome event and we look forward to welcoming competitors and spectators from around the world.
A global event
Vaka Eiva is not just an event for Cook Islanders. Paddlers come from all around the world to take part in the annual event including paddlers from the South Pacific regions, Europe and North America and Canada. Avarua provides the central hub for Vaka Eiva and even if you are on the island now, you will see teams out there every day practicing and training – they take this very seriously on Rarotonga and of course they want to do the country proud on home seas.
The island is absolutely buzzing throughout the week of Vaka Eiva and it’s a fantastic time to pay us a visit. Come and stay with us at either of our two resorts; Pacific Resort and Te Manava or at our partner resort Moana Sands and see what it takes to be a paddle the waters around Rarotonga.
There will be a total of 65 races that make up the Vaka Eiva festival in 2016 and this year there will also be a junior division. There are two prestigious trophies which are seen as the pinnacle for paddlers – the Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle trophies which are awarded in the open men and women 36km changes race – a gruelling paddle through the various conditions that surround Rarotonga from tranquil lagoon to open sea. These two events come at the end of the festival and draw huge crowds from across the island including locals and holidaymakers. Spectators can watch from the shore or to get closer to the excitement, get yourself on one of the spectator boats and follow the action from up close.
Away from the water
It is of course a fantastic experience to follow some of the races either from the shore or out on the water but there is also plenty going on out of the water to help you immerse yourself in the Vaka Eiva festival. Arts, food and cultural festivals provide plenty of options for those looking for something a bit different on your trip to the Cook Islands and you will often wander around with the competitors who are always more than happy to chat to you about their experiences.
As you would imagine, despite the highly competitive environment of Vaka Eiva, there is generally a super-relaxed vibe on the island and as much as people come over to compete and to win, they also come for the stunning location, the friendly locals and the chance to kick back and relax in our little corner of paradise.
You can read more about the Vaka Eiva festival on the official website and if you are on the island during the week of 18-25 November, make sure you speak to our staff about the event who will be more than happy to give you some history and let you know some of the best places to watch the races unfold.