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Ciguatera fish poisoning is endemic wherever coral reef fishes are a food source. There is a warning posted on Muri beach describing the condition.and there have been reported cases every year .The toxin is not affected by either cooking or freezing, and the affected fish, cooked or raw, is not tainted by bacteria in any way.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, and diarrheaand then intense itching, joint and muscle pain and tingling of the lips.
There is a list of the types of fish to avoid on the attached web site.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
This is something we really *WISH* we had known before going to the Cook Islands. Ciguatera, a type of fish poisoning, is epidemic there. It is carried by coral fish (originating from algae). You do not find coral fish in restaurants for this reason. Deep water fish are supposed to be safe, but our neighbour caught a Trivalli fish – which eats the toxic coral fish. Of course, we didn't know any of this when we cooked up the feast. That night, we all woke up with symptoms of bad food poisoning. By the morning we realised there was more to it than that.
Some guide books do mention Ciguatera but without going into detail, they make it appear to be a normal 24-48hr type of food poisoning. In reality, it is a long-term disease of the nervous system that effects your joints and your sense of hot and cold. We spent the rest of our holiday in sweaters and couldn't go in the gorgeous tropical waters because it would burn our skin (the sensation is like when you've been out in the snow and then you run your freezing hands under hot water...it is a burning, pins-and-needles sensation).
There can be a 1 in 10 fatality rate and if that is not all enough, you cannot eat any marine life for anything from 4 to 12 months after getting sick. This is because the toxin stays in your nervous system long after the worst of the symptoms are gone, and the toxin will attach itself to the special proteins found in aquatic life and you’ll get sicker. So this meant no shellfish, no fish-and-chips, no canned tuna, no anything like that for us for 6 months. There is no cure.
Apologies for all the detail, but it really is important to appreciate that it is much much more than just a simple fish or food poisoning problem. We wish that we'd known this before we went. The moral of the story is stay away from eating ANY fish in the Cook Islands, except for tuna.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
We flew in to Rarotonga for our wedding,after staying with my brother in Auckland.After a fantastic week we arrived at the airport to be asked for our return tickets to the UK,We explained that the tickets where back in Auckland.WHOOPS!!!!
Make sure you take all documents when you do a sideways trip otherwise its a big big hole in your credit card.
Cook Islands FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!
Written May 3, 2007
When we were flying from New Zealand we had to show proof of our hotel reservation for the Cook Islands before they could give us a boarding pass! I guess they had problems with people camping out on the beach. I was happy I actually had the written confirmation with me.
Written Dec 14, 2006
No one wears a helmet when driving a motor bike . It's alarming to see the tourists ...many who have never driven a bike before and driving on the left side ....for the first time...feeling secure to whiz along on a bike with no helmet... We saw a couple of spills that looked pretty bad....might be better to take a bus!
Written Dec 13, 2006
Make sure you wear reef shoes when walking on the beach or even snorkeling ( if you don't have fins) . The coral is so sharp!! The water in the lagoon is quite shallow so you end up standing up lots . We found the reef shoes helped alot!
Written Dec 13, 2006
Don't plan to do much on Sundays in the Cook Islands. Just about everything closes down on this day. On Rarotonga there are a few local stores that open in the afternoon. Finding a restaurant that's open on a Sunday night on Aitutaki is difficult and all the shops are shut all day.
Written Oct 8, 2005
I think it was Atututaki, and a dark night...a few to many beers. I started walling back to my hotel, but being late (and no street lights) there were no lights. I just kept walking, I must of walked around the island twice before I realized that I that I kept walk by my place. Any way, I woke up on the beach, under a tree with a pig (but I woun't talk to much more about that)
Written Feb 15, 2005
Scooters are the most common transportation in the Islands, and it's fun. I would only caution to watch out for the Raro dogs that may step out into the road and not drive late at night. Reading the Cook Island News over the past year, there has been a fair amount of drunk driving accidents. If out at night be alert and cautious.
Updated Jan 1, 2005
My visit to the Cooks started with three days of constant rain and strong winds.... But I was lucky, cyclone "Heta" just caused minor damage on Rarotonga (it devastated the island of Niue though). -January 2004
Cyclone season is from November to March. For more info on tropical storms, have a look at the website below.
Written Aug 23, 2004
Etu Moana Aitutaki
1 Review and 491 Opinions This place is amazing! The service is top notch. The resort is very nice. We were greeted by...