Everyone dreams of being stranded on an island in the middle of paradise and being able to enjoy life under the palm trees. The Cook Islands are the Garden of Eden when it comes to solitude, and they’re combined with a beauty that makes you think they were created by God’s hands! If you’d like to live the Southern Pacific dream, whether it’s with a smaller budget or a bulkier purse, this is the perfect place for you.
The gorgeous archipelago of the Cook Islands can be found to the north-east of New Zealand with which the islands have a free association. The islands are a separate state; however, the inhabitants receive a New Zealand nationality. Languages spoken here are English and Cook Islands Maori and you can pay with Cook Island dollars as well as New Zealand dollars. Since the economic situation between separated countries can be complicated, the Cook Islands belong to countries with highest migration figures. That shouldn’t divert you from the stunning beauty that attracts 100,000 people to this paradise every year so they can see it with their own eyes. The country is made up of 15 islands with Rarotonga being the largest and Aitutaki the prettiest. The best time to visit are the months between April and October. It’s always warm here but storms can occur in UK winter time.
Arrival and accommodation
Getting to the Cook Islands from the UK can take a while due to the geographic isolation of the islands but every minute of the flight is worth it. Depending on when you want to go, you can get flights with a stopover from £910. If you have more time to spare, you can combine a trip to the Cook Island with a New Zealand deal. There are flights from Auckland from £198.
The Muri Beach on Rarotonga is regarded as the most beautiful and that’s where you can also find gorgeous luxury hotels ready to attend to your every wish. Let’s start with a bigger budget, as dreams about an island like this one are definitely ok. ;-)
The Nautilus Resort Rarotonga on Muri Beach is perched right on the beach and invites for a bit of sunbathing, swimming and indulgence. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to lounge by the pool, enjoy a massage on the beach or explore the area with a kayak – you’ll be happy here no matter what!
You can find many other pretty places to stay on the main island that won’t strain your budget as much. There are hotels from £49/90€ per night. You can also find numerous private accommodation on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki that are situated right on the beach from £19 per night per person.
I just have to mention two heavenly hotels on Aitutaki: the 5 star Aitutaki Escape and the Pacific Resort Aitutaki. Both are located on the beach and fulfil all expectations of heavenly accommodation on the beach. After you wake up and pull back the covers, you can just bury your toes in the warm sand and enjoy the morning sun while bathing in the blue lagoon!
Between the islands
The island has an area of 67km², is the most densely populated and is home to approx. 10,000 people. The capital city of Avarua is more similar to a village and is therefore unbelievably informal and has only one main street. It leads through the entire island. There’s a public bus that tours the island every hour from the right and one from the left. Just tell the driver where you want to get off – easy!
The sixth largest island is said to be the absolute paradise – what awaits you here will exceed all your expectations. An almost entirely isolated island where the beaches could not be more white and the waters bluer. The atoll offers incredible nature which you just have to explore thanks to its lagoons as well as marine life. It’s here that you’ll also find the One Foot Island, one of the most famous and picturesque islands of the region – an excursion there can’t be avoided if you want to make your friends back home turn green from envy. ;-)
The easiest way to get from island to island is to book a flight with Air Raratonga – depending on your travel period it costs around £190. The airline will bring you to all the other islands depending on your time frame, budget and adventurous spirit.
There’s also the opportunity to reach the other islands with a ferry – although it is considered rather tourist-unfriendly because the departure times of the single ferry are only published in the local newspaper and are not very flexible.
What is there to do?
The Cook Islands are filled with Maori traditions and you simply have to immerse yourself in their culture. You can observe the dances typical of the island and take in the true Southern Pacific feeling. You can combine dance and food perfectly in the Te Vara Nui Village. If you’re into patterns and quilts, you’ll find a great sewing tradition here that the locals are famed for – it’s called Tivaevae and is often done in groups of women.
If you want to explore the islands on land, take the bus along the Ring Road or rent a moped and set off. You can explore the world around the islands from the water as there are numerous providers ready to show you the prettiest spots on boats. Or you can grab a canoe and paddle in the gorgeous Aitutaki Lagoon.
Water sports enthusiasts will love the surrounding area. You can either visit the colourful fish during a snorkelling excursion or you can delve a bit deeper and put on some diving gear. If you’re feeling the need for speed, you can use the wind to your favour and fly away with a kite. And for all those that prefer their fish on a plate rather than swimming in front of their eyes, then you can cast your line on a proper fishing trip.
As you can see, this country has something for everyone and if you decide to visit the Cook Islands, bring a larger budget and really spoil yourself or instead of enjoying the luxury hotels, you can indulge in the beautiful nature and make your South Pacific dream come true by making a small adventure into reality. You’ll be rewarded with isolated beaches and the kindest people, far away from the stress and chaos – the clock ticks slower on the Cook Islands.