From Tiger Island to test the camp for E4’s Shipwrecked to luxury Rarotonga in the Cook Islands
GLIDING across the azure seas on a speedboat, I feel like I could be in a scene from James Bond – except there is no five-star resort at my destination . . . or stunning model waiting to whisk me away.
Instead, I’m bobbing toward the tiny isle of Rapota in the South Pacific, with barely a fire pit and hanging bag for a shower in the way of creature comforts.
It’s taken me 26 hours and three flights to arrive in this paradise — where I’ll embrace the elements and spend a night on Tiger Island to get a taste of the Shipwrecked experience.
The E4 reality TV show returns tomorrow, after seven years away, with young castaways splitting into the Sharks and Tigers tribes to battle it out.
As I step off the boat and on to the rickety pontoon, I spy a small camp in the distance and am relieved to see a wooden canopy for our sleeping quarters already built. I won’t have to call on my Boy Scout training just yet, as our shelter for the night is ready and waiting.
It’s a far cry from the bare sand that awaited contestants in the previous incarnation of the show, where they had to make their own camp from scratch.
But this year’s crop won’t have to go primal or spend five months under the scorching sun, either. Bosses have cropped the show to seven weeks in a bid to keep up with reality rival Love Island.
But if I thought the next 24 hours would be a doddle, I’m in for a shock.
I might not be fashioning roofs from bamboo trees but I’m going to have to get to grips with building a fire if I want to eat tonight.
The show’s location medic and all-round survival expert, David “Os” Osbourne, runs us through some basic fire-building for the night and we settle into camp.
Three of us have come to Tiger Island to test-drive the camp before the TV contestants arrive — but it feels more like it’s testing us.
We struggle to get the fire started and Os jumps in to give us a hand so we don’t go to bed hungry.
As we wash our pots and pans in seawater, we lose the vital hook with which to hang the pans above the fire and, with a hammer, have to make one out of a nail if we want to eat our delicious dessert of rice-pudding.
It’s tricks like this that contestants will have to get to grips with.
As we shiver amid snow and freezing temperatures, many of us will be dreaming of sunnier climes.
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As the sun sets and the stars come out, it becomes clear to me why TV bosses chose this remote location.
The night sky is mesmerising.
We chat and laugh around the fire, as slowly the prospect of a night sleeping on a wood floor with just a thin yoga mat for a bed begins to dawn on us.
I endure a night of tossing and turning — but waking in the morning in front of the rolling waves makes it all worthwhile.
After a quick paddle in the sea, I hear the hum of our speedboat in the distance, arriving to pick us up and return us to base camp. I can’t wait to sleep on a proper bed again — and luckily I’ve got a night of pure luxury ahead before I make the long journey back to Blighty.
The Little Polynesian resort, on the Cook Islands’ main island, Rarotonga, is just the tonic to cure my aching back and tired eyes.
I’m staying in an individual house right on the beach and the outdoor shower is just perfect for cooling off after soaking up the sun.
But there’s no time to laze around on the beach — as I’ve got a snorkelling trip booked.
We meet at a dock, where the staff at Captain Tamas tours are busy drumming to an audience as people filter in for the excursion.
Strumming of guitars and banging of drums
Where there are Polynesians there is music and our day is filled with the strumming of guitars and banging of drums as, one by one, we plunge into the water from our glass-bottomed boat and and get to swim up close with giant tuna. Lunch is taken at a tiny nearby isle where we feast on piles of barbecued chicken, potato salad and fresh bread. After a tasty meal, the team from the tour operator entertain us with coconut-tree climbing and a fashion show where members of the group model the latest sarongs.
I might be exhausted from a day experiencing the culture but am not ready to wish myself back to the seclusion of a desert island just yet.
Thankfully, dinner is a lot more exciting than last night’s meagre rations.
We rock up at the night market, the busiest area in this tiny island which is home to 14,000 people.
There are about 20 food stalls to choose from and a disco, too, where holidaymakers boogie after their meal.
I choose a traditional plate with kalua — tender pork cooked in an underground pit — and we make ourselves comfortable on the tables and chairs laid out.
Boeing 747 flies back to sixties
British Airways S is painting an aircraft with a retro design from the company’s past as the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, the airline will replace the modern livery on one of its Boeing 727s with a classic design from the Sixties and Seventies.
The aircraft will leave the paint shop in Dublin and arrive at Heathrow on February 18, before entering service the following day.
The BOAC 747 will be the first aircraft to receive an iconic design from BA’s early days, with more details of further designs to be revealed.
A 747 was chosen for the BOAC livery because it is a later model of the aircraft that first sported the design.
BA boss Alex Cruz said: “So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe, so it’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing this classic BOAC design.”
I savour every scrap and waddle over to the disco for a boogie, with full belly.
I’ve sampled both extremes of the Cook Islands and, I have to say, gazing at the stars from Rarotonga definitely beats being Shipwrecked.
Shipwrecked returns to E4 tomorrow at 9pm.
A colourful way to pay on holiday
Just when you thought you had all the gadgets going, along comes a wearable, splash-proof cash card.
This little device incorporates a mini contactless Mastercard, letting holidaymakers leave their hotel wallet-free.
We tried out the colourful, lightweight wristband and found it worked well for trips to the pool or beach, where we didn’t want to carry much.
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It can only be used for contactless payments, so you’ll still need the free full-size Lyk Prepaid Mastercard for chip-and-pin transactions.
Holidaymakers can track payments through the Lyk app on Android and iOS – particularly useful for parents who have given the kids a wristband.
Company spokesman James Done said: “We see wearables as a big trend for holiday spending, because of the surge in contactless payments and the convenience of paying this way. By 2030, we expect 90 per cent of holidaymakers to own a travel wearable.”