Couple stranded on Cook Islands during pandemic
A young couple who have been trying to get on a plane back to Europe are still trapped in the idyllic Cook Islands after their flight was cancelled on multiple occasions.
Stephen Palmer and his wife Sabina, who are on the island of Rarotonga, said they have been going "crazy" trying to get a flight, but every fare has been cancelled.
"Not a bad place to be stranded in," the caption on a photo of the pair snorkelling begins.
"Over the past weeks we've been going crazy going back and forth trying to get back to Europe. Every flight we've booked got cancelled causing more and more stress. For a moment we forgot how blessed we are to be stranded here with 0 cases so far.
"The snorkelling trip however really helped us to forget all the things that are happening right now."
The Cook Islands is yet to report any cases of COVID-19, and with nearby New Zealand closing their borders, the couple have had their visa extended until the end of May. The pair, who are travel bloggers, were supposed to be travelling to New Zealand on March 26.
The couple, who have been doing activities like yoga, snorkelling, fishing and hiking while on the island, said they were among around 100 stranded as of mid-April.
"There was a German rescue flight which was picking up any Europeans who wanted to leave, flying them via Auckland, Sydney, Qatar, and Frankfurt.," Mr Palmer told Echo Live.
"We were actually going to take it and go to my wife's family in Poland where we could self-isolate easier.
"But at that time Poland was in lockdown so there were no flights.
"Also, as we got married in Portugal, the legal side of things have not been done yet and as they were only letting Polish citizens in we were worried I would get stuck at the German/Poland border, not to mention possibly catch the virus on the way."
Mr Palmer said only about 20 tourists remain on the island, where they have been able to organise a few meet-ups with fellow travellers.
"We did a cross-island hike at the weekend and later met up for a barbecue which was great to meet everyone and share stories," he said.
"There is certainly a lot more pros to being here than cons.
"The best thing is having this island at our doorsteps.
"Cheap accommodation, normally the place we stay in is $400 (€224) per night and now is $400 per week.
"With so much changing we are just taking it day by day and trying to get the most of this unique situation."