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Insiders Guide to the Cook Islands

Cook Islands Lady
Raro Sunset
Rarotonga
Raro Nightlife
Scooter Rarotonga
Raro Interior
Rarotonga Church
Snorkelling
Aitutaki Beach
Aitutaki Aerial

Insiders Guide to the Cook Islands

story by: Tom Ricketts

1. MEET THE LOCALS
The local Rarontongan’s are some of the most beautifully friendly people you’ll ever meet. They’re always happy to chat, and more than a few of them have mastered the art of spinning some very tall tales.
HOT Tip: Visit Jim at the Shipwreck Hut or head out for a walk over the island with Pa, two of the islands’ biggest characters.


2. WATCH THE SUN GO DOWN
Rarotonga has some stunning sunsets, and nothing’s more romantic than grabbing a quiet spot with your loved one to watch the sky light up in all shades of red, yellow and purple.
HOT Tip: Head to the beachfront bar at Crown Beach Resort to add some cocktails to the mix.


3. STOP, DROP, AND TAN
You’re in the islands so plenty of sunbathing is no doubt on the cards. Rarotonga is fringed with beautiful beaches, most of which are quiet, and all of which have plenty of sun action.
HOT Tip: Muri Beach is the best for swimming thanks to its sandy, coral free ocean floor. But if it’s only the sun and sand you’re interested in, then any of the other beaches will do just fine.


4. ENJOY A NIGHT ON THE TOWN
Ok so ‘on the town’ might be exaggerating things a little bit, but there certainly is enough bars and pubs to keep you entertained in Rarotonga. And no trip to Raro is complete without at least one visit to the iconic Trader Jacks.
HOT Tip: The Going Troppo Nightlife Tour is a fantastically fun way of seeing the best of the islands bars, as well as making new friends along the way.


5. RELIVE YOUR YOUNGER DAYS BY GETTING A DRIVERS LICENSE
Recent changes to the road rules mean you can now use your New Zealand Drivers License in Rarotonga, but for a mere $‚Äč30 you can get your very own Cook Islands Drivers License. However it is essential to get the Cook Islands license if you’re planning on renting a scooter.
HOT Tip: Be sure to check with your House of Travel consultant about travel insurance policies as most do not cover scooter accidents.


6. GO BUSH!
Rarotonga is not all just beaches and palm trees, it actually has a surprisingly huge forest covered mountain smack bang in the middle of the island. Be sure to spend at least one day exploring this lush tropical jungle.
HOT Tip: If the kids are getting fidgety, try the quad biking tour for tons of family fun. And tons of mud!


7. SING HALLEUJAH
Even if you’re not religious, take a peak inside the Cook Islands Christian Church on a Sunday to see the Rarotongan’s dressed in their Sunday best for what’s often a very colourful and loud service. The cheerful singing and sometimes even dancing makes for a much more entertaining service than what you might be used to in New Zealand.
HOT Tip:
On the first Sunday of the month, everyone wears white.


8. GET UNDER THE WATER
Rarotonga is surrounded by coral reefs and you only have to step a few feet off the beach to see brightly coloured corals and tropical fish. Most resorts have a stash of snorkelling equipment, free of charge, or if you’re a diver there are PADI certified operators available.
HOT Tip:
If you have young ones, try Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise which has snorkelling available, as well as glass bottom boat for those not so brave in the water.


9. TRY THE LOCAL BREW
Rarotonga has its own brewery named Matutu. Drop by for the ‘tour’ which is more of a presentation than it is tour, but interesting none the less.
HOT Tip: Definitely worth a visit if you’ve had your fill of the overpriced Heineken found across the island.


10. FALL IN LOVE WITH AITUTAKI
If perfection was an island paradise, it would be Aitutaki. It has pristine white sand islets, gently swaying palm trees as far as the eye can see, and a bright aqua blue lagoon filled with beautiful corals and tropical fish. It is a bit pricey to get here, but it will be the best money you’ve ever spent.
HOT Tip: Aitutaki is just a 45 minute flight away and can be done as a day tour, but have your House of Travel agent book you a couple of nights on the island for a far superior experience.

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