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A journey to the Cook Islands is the perfect island escape. Relaxation, romance, family fun and adventure… you can have it all in this tropical paradise!
No matter where you go in the Cook Islands, the scenery is spectacular and the locals are welcoming. Just a short flight from home, you’ll find turquoise lagoons fringed by coral reefs, stunning white sand beaches, craggy volcanic peaks and dense jungles awaiting a tramp. As Pacific explorer James Upton said, "If you've not travelled to the Cook Islands, you will never really know what beauty is."
The Cook Islands’ rich cultural heritage is easy to feel, with music, art and cuisine a part of everyday life. Most resorts host ‘Island Nights’ to showcase the vibrant culture.
Explore the Saturday markets in Avarua for a dose of culture and cuisine. Don your very own pareu (sarong), walk away with a handmade quilt and feast on fresh-cut tropical fruit. You’ll find an atmosphere abuzz. Don’t miss the traditional island-style umukai feast, which involves delicious meats and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a shallow pit by hot volcanic rock.
Once you arrive in Rarotonga, you’ll soon find that you’re on ‘island time.’ Locals let life unfold at its own pace without hurry, so get into the tropical cadence with a lazy stroll along the beach.
Since the island is so small, you can get around it in less than an hour — but stretch it out and hunt for your own hidden gems. It’s easy to hop on a bike or scooter and drive yourself!
When you reach the southern side of the island, be sure to take a inroad to get to Wigmore’s Waterfall. If you’re cycling, this sparkling cascade and deep, cool pool offers a chance to escape the heat. Organised tours can also lead you through the exotic jungle on a quad bike or out on a guided mountain trek.
As you’d expect, the island is brimming with water activities: Snorkelling, scuba diving, reef cruises, fishing charters, sailing experiences and much more!
The pulse of the island starts racing when the sun goes down, head to Avarua town to Trader Jack’s and let the party really start.
Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruizes (yes, that’s how they spell it) are a customer favourite experience. Get a look at the marine residents of Muri Beach and lagoon aboard a glass bottom boat before setting out for a snorkel. The real highlight, though, is the mouth-watering barbeque lunch and entertainment on remote Koromiri Island.
Many visitors don’t venture beyond Rarotonga, but those who do are well rewarded with pristine beaches that feel a world away.
Aitutaki is one such place. An untouched paradise, here you can find a truly authentic Cook Islands experience. It’s known as a honeymoon hotspot, but who wouldn’t love empty expanses of bright white sand and clear azure waters?
You won't struggle for fresh seafood here. And to hear some genuine Cook Islands song, make your way to the limestone coral rock CICC Church in Arutanga on a Sunday morning. Or for unparalled views, climb 30 minutes to the summit of Mt Maungapu, Aitutaki’s highest peak.
A lesser known outer island is Vaipae, nicknamed the Hollywood of the Cook Islands for the incredible performances you’ll find. When the sun sets, enjoy a splash of nightlife at Black Rock Bar or The Boat Shed.
Want to go even further? Atiu, Mangaia and Mauke offer even more unique and unforgettable experiences such as caving, bonefishing and diving.
Ready to pick your own adventure? Incredible island holidays are just a click away.
Better yet, chat with one of our friendly travel experts. We love pairing Kiwis with their perfect holidays!
Rarotonga is just under a 4 hour flight from Auckland. Fly Air New Zealand non-stop from Auckland daily or Virgin Australia non-stop from Auckland five times a week.
Once in Rarotonga there are three or four daily (except Sunday) scheduled air services to Aitutaki operated by Air Rarotonga, with a flight time of just 45 minutes. Some international flights into Rarotonga are timed to link up with these flights to Aitutaki..
No visa is required for a tourist stay up to 31 days. Extensions may be granted on a monthly basis for up to five months.
You'll get tropically warm throughout the year,but the best time to visit is the dry season from May to October. It’s less humid and slightly cooler with temperatures ranging 24 to 27°C.
You’ll gain a day on your outward journey as you cross the International Dateline and you’ll lose that day again on your way back.
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