Hooked on the Cook Islands: My Giant Wedgie


Lagoon cruise views in Aitutaki, the Cook Islands
I don't think I'll ever visit anywhere as beautiful as Aitutaki

I hate snorkelling.

Which is weird, right? Because doesn’t everyone love inhaling salty water until they vomit, then being rocked from side to side by the unforgiving ocean until they vomit again, all while several hundred fish swarm around their faces and then one swims all up close to their vagina?

Yeah.

I hate snorkelling for all of those things and more. I just can never seem to get it right: my gear always seems to suck because I’ve never not spent the entire time with seawater in my mask and mouth; I’m always seasick; fish make me nervous; I’m terrified of jellyfish; and I break out in an itchy rash whenever my face is submerged in saltwater for more than a few minutes.

I’ve tried so many times to fall in love with it.

I snorkelled in Phang Nga Bay and ended up surrounded by fish — for most people, the goal of snorkelling; for me, the scariest outcome. I snorkelled in a tiny secluded bay in Turkey, where I dived as far down as I could to catch a video of Dave, forgot I couldn’t breathe underwater, inhaled the biggest gulp of water possible, then threw up. I snorkelled in the Maldives and, in an attempt to prevent water from seeping into my mask, secured it too tightly and ended up with a migraine for the next three days.

This year, I decided to give it one more shot. I was in Aitutaki, the Cook Islands, where the snorkelling is supposed to be some of the best in the world. If I didn’t like it there, I wouldn’t like it anywhere.

tour4

Aitutaki’s lagoon is more than three times the size of its land, so if you opt to remain on land, you’ll be missing out on a huge portion of what makes the island so special. In other words, I had no excuse. Cruises are popular, and every day, a handful of boats ferry tourists out onto the water, all of them focusing on the underwater world. My lagoon cruise included three snorkelling spots on a full-day tour.

As the engine shuddered to life, I busied myself with focusing on the islands on the horizon to try to keep myself from throwing up. After dropping anchor, we sat and listened to our captain as he ran through a list of things to know.

We’d be snorkelling a shipwreck surrounded by giant trevallies. They were like underwater magpies — attracted by shiny things — so we had to remove our jewellery. All of it. Unless we wanted to be followed by dozens of them for the next hour. I definitely did not.

I snapped my mask over my head and positioned my mouthpiece next to my face. To my surprise, I didn’t feel as nervous as I’d expected. As in, I could stand up and I wasn’t crying.

I wobbled my way over to the side of the boat, watching as everyone either jumped or slid overboard. Following the father of a French family, I clambered up onto the wooden bench and balanced on the hot edge of the boat. Next, I swung my feet over the side so that they were dangling over the water, having made the executive decision to leave my flippers on the boat for now — I was clumsy enough as it was.

I watched the ocean swell beneath me as I contemplated the circling giant trevallies and how they looked just like piranhas in my overly-anxious mind. I took a few deep breaths, reminded myself that I wasn’t nervous, gulped, and then pushed off the side.

And then I stopped.

Something yanked at my crotch and I paused mid-fall. I was submerged up to my knees but the rest of me was somehow managing to dangle in the air.

Lagoon cruise views in Aitutaki, the Cook Islands

“Oh nooooo!” the French dad cried out from directly in front of me, sending his daughter’s face spinning around in my direction. She let out a gasp.

What was happening?

I let out a perplexed “ack!” as I tried to figure out how I had suddenly learned how to levitate. The pain in my ass crack shook me out of my confusion and I flung my arms behind me to secure myself on the side of the boat with my elbows. A jarring pain shot through my right arm when I smashed it into the side. Only then did it become clear what had just happened.

As I’d pushed myself off into the water, my bikini bottoms had become snagged on something — some kind of hook, maybe, or a cleat for a fender — and there I was: dangling over the side of the boat, desperately thrashing my legs around in the water, and wondering how on earth I could ease the rapidly increasing burn in my vulva.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 12.50.56 copy

I kicked my legs back and forth as I contemplated whether it would be best to let go and hope my bikini ripped in half in a way that could be easily repaired, or force myself upwards and back on board.

At one point I tried kicking my legs like a frog, accidentally pausing with them spread wide open, bikini pulled to one side. And there was my vagina.

Hi, everyone! My name is Lauren and I’m the author of the book, How Not to Travel the World. 

“Oh no, oh no, oh no,” the dad groaned as he watched my failed attempts to kick myself back on board. His entire family was in front of me and I was showing them everything I had.

“Goodness!” squeaked out the mum of the British family, who had just spotted my plight.

“Excuse me!” called the dad to the captain, waving his arms in a panic. “I think she might need a little help.”

I forced a grimace that I hoped looked like a calm-and-totally-in-control-of-this-sitatuation smile and I blurted out, “It’s okay! I’m fine! Honestly! I’m just a little stuck!”

Knowing that I had mere moments before the captain spotted me flailing like a moron filled me with a sudden burst of energy. With one final push, I managed to hoist myself up from elbows to my hands, then slide back onto the boat.

“Are you okay?” called out the French dad, who looked more mortified than I felt.

I let out a squeak in return and nodded, staring back at my entire tour group who had just seen my vagina.

And that was when I decided I would never snorkel again.

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51 Comments

  1. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    I’m dying! DYING! It’s funny and so very mortifying! I’m so sorry I’m kind of giggling about this. I had a similar situation happen when I was scuba diving, but it was a hose that had gotten caught in the boat, not my bikini bottoms! Mine resulted in a huge, long lasting bruise on my arm and far less embarrassment. I really am sorry you go through these things and thank you for sharing them for our entertainment!

  2. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    Oh my gosh, Lauren! I would have been SO MORTIFIED. I can’t even imagine. How did you manage to play that one off the rest of the trip??
    At least your bikini bottoms didn’t rip, leaving you with nothing for the rest of your tour!!

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Hahaha, well, I think everyone was more embarrassed than I was! After everyone asked if I was okay for a few minutes, nobody mentioned it again, and I just pretended it hadn’t happened. I also skipped the final snorkelling stop — a decision that nobody questioned, haha :-D

      I spent most of the tour from that point on mentally composing this blog post and giggling to myself!

  3. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    Oh, Lauren! hahahahhaha! You crack me up! And, you make me feel so normal. hahaha!!! Material for your next book?

  4. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    Nooo! I was looking forward to this story for quite a while, but I didn’t expect it to be this mortifying!! I can’t believe you actually remained suspended in the air for such a long time! Luckily you didn’t get hurt!

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Oh, it wasn’t as long as the post made it seem! Maybe 20 or 30 seconds :-)

  5. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    Oh my gosh, what a nightmare! Sorry for laughing so hard at your misfortune.

    I also hate snorkeling, for all the reasons you listed, minus the wedgie. ;)

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      High five for hating snorkelling! I often feel like I’m the only one :-)

  6. May 13, 2016
    Reply

    I had tears in my eyes when I read this. From laughing mainly but also from feeling embarrassed and feeling the anxiety fill up my head — i think i would have been mortified!!!! You are so very unique Lauren. I looooved this post!!

    • June 22, 2016
      Reply

      Hahaha! So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Tess! :-D

  7. May 14, 2016
    Reply

    Ohmigoodness, what an experience! Way to take what is clearly a mortifying experience and make it a great story!

    p.s., I share your dislike of snorkelling. After inhaling the ocean a few too many times, I’ve just given up. Apparently, I’m not meant to experience what’s under the sea.

    Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org/

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Ha, thanks so much, Kate! And yep, I even retched when I was writing this post and remembered all the times I’d swallowed a mouthful of ocean!

  8. Stan Giles
    May 14, 2016
    Reply

    As you have a love of beach, coast, islands, you know you will have to get back in the water, for some more fine stories , what else could go wrong? ha ha

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Something *always* goes wrong! Haha, but you’re correct. No more snorkelling for me, but I suspect I’ll still have a fair few boats in my future. In fact, I’m chartering a yacht in Greece for a week in September, so who knows what’ll happen then!

  9. May 14, 2016
    Reply

    I am literally crying right now! After hubby almost died on an advanced snorkelling trip in the Dominican Republic, I almost drowned jumping off a boat in the Maldives and I hated every minute every snorkelling with turtles in Mexico (Apart from when i actually saw turtles – that was pretty cool), I too have turned my back on snorkelling. But at least I’ve never exposed my nether regions to an entire tour group…

    ??

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Oh no! That all sounds terrifying and awful and definitely a reason to never snorkel again!

  10. May 14, 2016
    Reply

    Hilarious, but only because it didn’t happen to me! At this point, I think I can really understand why you’d never snorkel again :D

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      It’s okay, I find it hilarious, too! :-)

  11. Yikes that is embarrassing! But I think it’s awesome that you shared it with us. The joys of life.

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      I love to show the *other side* of travel that is anything but glamorous! :-)

  12. Kate
    May 14, 2016
    Reply

    Oh my goodness, I’m crying tears laughing right now! Thanks for your bare honesty and sharing this story!!

    • May 20, 2016
      Reply

      Haha, glad you enjoyed the story! :-)

  13. May 14, 2016
    Reply

    Omg this is so mortifying and funny at the same time Lauren! Really gotta give it to you for the most absurd things that happen while travelling! Glad you’re ok though and I hope better luck follows up after this incident!

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      I had a few more incidents in store for me after this (writing about them soon!), but things are going much more smoothly now! :-)

  14. May 14, 2016
    Reply

    LOL this post was hilarious! Man imagine that time going to the next destination it would be so awkward! you are a very brave person. I would have cried if everyone saw my junk. I guess the world is telling you that snorkelling isn’t for you.

    • May 14, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you! I think because we then had an hour of snorkelling it wasn’t so bad. Everyone just put their face in the water, so I didn’t have to look them in the eyes for a while!

  15. Alyssa
    May 14, 2016
    Reply

    I’ve never laughed so hard at something I’ve read on the internet! Thanks for sharing your amazingly unfortunate story!

    • May 16, 2016
      Reply

      Wow! Thanks so much, Alyssa! Happy I could make you laugh so hard :-D

  16. May 15, 2016
    Reply

    Oh wow, I totally just visualized that whole experience in my head. Great story. Sorry all this crazy stuff happens to you, but keep it coming! ;)

    • May 20, 2016
      Reply

      I really struggled to describe what was going on in this post because it was such an unusual situation to be in, so I’m pleased to hear I managed to pull it off! :-)

  17. Jennifer
    May 15, 2016
    Reply

    Hahaha this cracked me up! It sounds like you’re often finding yourself in aweful predicaments. It just reminds me of the times my brother would give me wedgies as a kid. Didn’t that hurt? I can only imagine putting all your weight sharply against such a sensitive area would make you sore for a few days

    • May 15, 2016
      Reply

      Ha, you should click on “the incidents” in my menu bar to see that yes, I am in fact, always getting myself into awful predicaments :-)

      And yep, it hurt.

  18. Rich
    May 15, 2016
    Reply

    Wow the Cook Islands are awesome! The pictures caught me and the writing makes me want to read more.

    • May 16, 2016
      Reply

      And people say travel bloggers don’t read the posts they comment on…

  19. May 16, 2016
    Reply

    Oh my god, this was seriously laugh-out-loud funny. I probably would have just hid on the boat the rest of the day hahah. I actually really used to hate snorkeling too, but eventually it ended up growing on me! However, had I had an experience like this one….maybe not!

    • July 23, 2016
      Reply

      So happy you enjoyed the read, Kelly! I’m not sure I’ll ever grow to like snorkelling, but we’ll see :-)

  20. May 17, 2016
    Reply

    The end of your snorkelling adventures couldn’t have been more terrifying (and amusing at the same time)! Anyway, I really love your photos of Cook Islands! The views must have been unforgettable (not only for a bikini malfunction!) Maybe you need a professional space for them? ;-) Cheers, Piotr.

    • May 20, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks, Piotr! A professional space for my photos? Ah, I still think of myself as a terrible photographer, so it’s not something I’ll do anytime soon.

      • May 23, 2016
        Reply

        I think you underestimate yourself a little! ;-) Your photos are really nice! Take care!

  21. May 17, 2016
    Reply

    Totally crazy situation!! Had something similar… tried to hop on a little boat in the Mentawai islands, and let me say that is a no-no if your bottom bikini is a bit loose… ?

  22. May 21, 2016
    Reply

    Yikes Lauren, you always seem to get yourself into quite funky situations. Again, more material for HNTTTW 2! Cheers from Vietnam!

    • May 27, 2016
      Reply

      Right? My whole South Pacific trip actually ended up being one big disaster from start to finish. More on that soon!

  23. May 24, 2016
    Reply

    I’m sure it was mortifying but this post had me in hysterics. Just when I think you have the travel horror story of all travel horror stories, you come up with more. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving hahaha. But also- OUCH!!!

    • May 27, 2016
      Reply

      Hahaha, glad you enjoyed! :-)

  24. Osman
    August 3, 2016
    Reply

    omgggggggggg dying.

    • August 6, 2016
      Reply

      Hahaha, it was quite the experience!

  25. Ilan
    February 22, 2018
    Reply

    I read your comments about how you hate snorkelling and I may have a solution. Last year I purchased a “Tribord” mask on Amazon. This is a fairly new concept in which there is no snorkel. The entire face fits in the mask. My wife and children who had a similar problem to you with regards to snorkeling absolutely love this mask. It has absolutely transformed how we snorkel. It has eliminated water getting into the mask, fogging etc. The mask is more expensive than normal but I already have it from many friends and family members that it is transformative. I suggest that you give it one more shot.

    • February 25, 2018
      Reply

      Yes! I saw somebody snorkelling with one of those last year and it seemed to work well. It looks ridiculous but I definitely plan to try it out at some point!

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