Cook Islands – Love A Little Paradise, and experience some of the most beautiful islands in the world
The Cook Islands, a modern Polynesian nation of fifteen islands, scattered across a vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. An oasis of freedom with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, warm weather all year round and authentic, friendly locals. Less than thirty minutes from your plane to any beach, it’s so easy to do as much or as little as you like in the Cook Islands.
Let me share the Kia Orana spirit and discover why everybody loves a little paradise.
How To Get There
International airlines that serve the Cook Islands are Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Air Tahiti. Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have six and five flights respectively a week from Auckland, and Air Tahiti operated by Air Rarotonga, has one flight a week from Tahiti. Air New Zealand also operates direct flights out of Sydney and Los Angeles once a week. Jetstar has three flights from Australia, via Auckland.
There is no separate departure tax payable at the airport, as this is included in your international tickets.
The beating heart of this little paradise will capture yours. As the hub of the Cook Islands, there’s so much to see and do. Yet they remain unspoilt, with no traffic lights, no McDonalds and no building taller than a coconut tree. Epic jungle clad mountains cascading down to the sparkling lagoon aquatic playground. The laidback lifestyle of the warm colourful locals. The spectacular natural beauty of a beach all to yourself. Like one big resort, it’s so easy to get everywhere. From the bright waterfront town of Avarua to the magic of Muri lagoon and beyond, there’s something for everyone.
The inland is perfect for trekking, 4 x 4 jungle safari tours or exploring by bike. The white sandy beaches surrounding the island are spectacular and beyond the reef is the deep ocean, perfect for diving or game fishing. There are over 52 restaurants and cafes scattered all over Rarotonga alone. Just 32 kms in circumference, explore an island where you can find treasure around every corner.
Aitutaki, home to approximately 1,800 people and the world’s most beautiful lagoon, is only 220 kms away, a 45 minute flight from Rarotonga. Secluded and romantic, fifteen motu (islets) are sprinkled across the huge turquoise, sunlit lagoon filled with brilliantly coloured tropical fish. Aitutaki is unrivalled in the Cook Islands for water activities. Take a day cruise on the lagoon or charter a boat for a secluded picnic on your own private motu. This destination is the top of any bucket list in the South Pacific.
A mix of coral atolls and volcanic islands – a good few of the nine Southern Group islands made up of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atu, Managaia, Mitiaro, Mauke, Palmerston, Marquese and Takutea could be listed as “must see before I die”. An idyllic climate, stunning varied scenery, warm-hearted people living an untouched way of life make them irresistible.
Six of the beautiful Cook Islands lie to the north. Described as “the stuff that dreams are made of”, their remote appeal and promise of true escape pulls at the heart of explorers, adventurers, authors and artists. The Northern Group islands are made up of Pukapuka, Penrhyn, Manki, Rakshanga, Suwarrow and Nassau.
Punanga Nui market colourful stalls open from 6am to 12pm every Saturday.
The vibrant market place offers a wide range of fresh, local produce, stalls offering succulent food & treats, coconuts to quench your thirst, arts, jewellery, carvings, handcrafts, T-shirts, CDs and pareus, and bands or cultural groups often perform live.
This is such a social occasion in the Cook Islands, and you won’t want to miss your opportunity for souvenir shopping as well.
Cook Island’s beautiful white coral and limestone churches fill with the soaring songs of worship on Sunday.
Visitors are most welcome to attend Sunday services, but please observe appropriate modest attire of shirts and long trousers for men, and longer-length skirts or dresses for women, preferably with short or long sleeves.
The services start at 10am and finish at 11am.
A church donation will be much appreciated. At the conclusion of service you may well find yourself invited by the Pastor to enjoy fruits and light refreshments in the nearby meeting hall with the congregation.
It’s always a great time to visit, the Cook Islands enjoy a pleasant warm and sunny climate all year round. June to August are slightly cooler months. November to March marks the warmer season, with occasional tropical showers. The drier months, from April to November, have an average of about 26C. The warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March, the temperature ranging between 22C (min) and 30C (max).
Simple Fresh Food
Love fresh food? Well, they are not called the Cook Islands for nothing. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, local fishermen venture beyond the reef before sunrise, helping the islands earn the award for best cuisine in the Pacific. Fresh seafood straight out of the ocean, prepared simply with delicious local ingredients from their nutrient rich volcanic island gardens. Whatever you feel like, the choice of eating options is vast and varied in their little nation. Visitors can easily dine in a different location for every meal of their stay. A perfect meal can be fish and chips on the beach, street hawker dishes at the night market or fine restaurant dining and there are many colourful cafes serving light meals and your fix of great coffee.
Cook Islands (2011 Census) 17, 794. Rarotonga (Capital) 13,095.
A valid passport with six months validity is required, and a 31 days visa is issued on arrival. This can be extended on request. New Zealand citizens are eligible for a 90 day stay on arrival.
Currency & Banking
The Cook Islands unit of currency is the New Zealand Dollar, supplemented by local Cook Islands’ notes and coins. ANZ, BSP, and BCI Banks in downtown Avarua are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm. ANZ extends its closing time on Friday’s to 4pm. BSP in Avarua is also open from 9am to midday on Saturdays. ATM’s are conveniently located around Rarotonga and Aitutaki EFTPOS is available at most hotels and stores. Western Union has an office in Avarua offering money exchange and transfers. For the other islands, you will need to get cash before you arrive on the island as there is no access to EFTPOS, and only some businesses accept credit cards.
Domestic Air Travel
Domestic flights are operated by Air Rarotonga with daily flights to Aitutaki and scheduled flights to Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Penrhyn and Pukapuka.
While the Cook Islands is informal and the dress code is casual, it is recommended that very brief attire such as bikinis not be worn in shopping areas or public areas outside of the beach and resorts, as it may cause offense in some places.
Is on the left-hand side of the road. Cars and motor scooters rented to international visitors (over 16 years of age) can now drive in the Cook Islands for up to six months using their full overseas license. If a visitor wants to ride a scooter or motorbike in the Cook Islands and is not licensed to do so at home, he or she will still have to obtain a Cook Islands Driving License at the Police Headquarters in Avarua. All tourists must wear helmets.
Is not customary in the Cook Islands.
Medical & Dental Services
Are available and there is a well-equipped hospital situated on Rarotonga and a small hospital in Aitutaki. There are no poisonous animals or insects on the Cook Islands.
Electricity voltage is 240 AC/50 cycle, the same three pin plugs used in New Zealand and Australia. Some hotels have provisions for 110 volt AC electric razors.
There is 24 hour Telecom service where you can buy a sim card and credit to get a local phone number. Most smart phones will work with a local sim however check with your provider in your country before travelling to the Cook Islands. Internet on the island is readily available, and most resorts have a wifi hotspot, and some have internet in room that you can purchase. There are internet cafes around the island.
Water on Rarotonga is from catchment in the hills and it is recommended visitors boil water for drinking. Some properties have treated water. Bottled water is available from the local shops for those who wish to purchase.
Where to book?
Now that you have found out more about the Cook Islands, I’m sure you may wish to speak to me about making a booking. You can make this a single destination, or as part of a multi-centre itinerary.
The suppliers I use are all ABTA and ATOL protected, for your financial protection, and have been trading for many years, with many delighted clients.
So, please email me with your requirements, and I will arrange for a free quotation to be sent over to you, which can then be bookable via myself.