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Cook Islands: Off the Beaten Track

Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands

Cook Islands: Off the Beaten Track

story by: House of Travel

Nestled amongst the Pacific are some of the world's most sumptuous isles, the Cook Islands. Brimming with natural beauty, they're also the perfect place to get adventurous, with features including forests, caves and intriguing undersea worlds to get your started. 

Here's a peek into some of the Cook Islands' must-see and do activities for those yearning to get a little off the beaten track.

This gorgeous emerald isle is the 'eco' capital of the Cook Islands, with plenty to offer those in search of something different. 

Take a tour of some of the coral limestone caves, with wonders such as the Tiroto Tunnel formed by fresh running water. Wade through this tunnel almost to the sea for a real adventure. Then there's the Anataketake Cave, which is home to the special Kopeka bird, native to Atiu. 

The Rima Rau burial cave is a surreal experience, with a number of differing local legends accounting for the bones found here. Your guide will be able to delve into the mysteries as they guide you through the location. 

If you want to try swimming in some of the caves, visit Nurau and Vai Akaruru. These feature exciting sinkholes, underwater passages and other thrilling features. Remember to always go with a guide so as not to get lost. 

This island is also a wonderful destination for hiking, with a number of nature trails. Some are very ancient, dating back to the island's original inhabitants. Take the Captain Cooks Trail, which passes through pristine jungle and beach, with a distinctly mysterious atmosphere. Find its beginning at Oravaru, or Cooks Landing Place, and follow the route Captain Cook's crew took. A highlight is the land bridge over an impressive 4 metre-wide cleft. 

The Tumai and Tongaroro beach trails are great options with littered with banyan trees and other natural features. 

For a walk that's really off the beaten path, check out the Oneroa Beach Trail with a guide. This passes the Vai Akaruru clearwater cave.

Just a 45 minute flight away from Rarotonga, you don't want to miss this truly idyllic paradise. Its natural features are awe-inspiring, with some of the world's most beautiful turquoise waters and gently swaying palm trees. 

This island boasts a slow pace of life, a strong community culture and a series of dreamy vistas that's great for solo travellers, couples and families alike.

It's also a great place to discover island culture. Make your way to the village of Vaipae, which is nicknamed Hollywood due to its incredible performers who engage in singing, dancing, drumming and even fire dancing. Catching one of these shows is sure to get your adrenalin pumping! 

Why not get to know the local culture by visiting a marketplace? Check out the town on Saturday morning - in particular, make your way to the Orongo Centre, where you'll happen upon a number of stalls selling fashion, souvenirs, fresh tropical fruits and arts and crafts such as woven baskets. You'll also get great views of gorgeous yachts dotting the harbour's twinkling waters. 

Don't miss heading out into the lagoon waters for a dive or a snorkel. You'll be hard pressed to find such great visibility anywhere else, and with an array of colourful marine life such as fish and bright corals, it's a sight like nothing else. 

Make your way to the Cook Islands and don't be afraid to head off the beaten track to experience some truly unique activities and attractions. With unsurpassable natural beauty, a friendly local culture and history galore to explore, the Cook Islands should be on every traveller's bucket list.


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