Halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii lies a secret Polynesian paradise: the Cook Islands. The 15 islands in this Pacific archipelago are just 240 total square km. Size isn’t everything, though—there are plenty of Cook Islands hotels awaiting your arrival, and these tiny clusters of volcanic rock pack a big punch, with friendly, welcoming locals and unbeatable tranquil beaches. Aitutaki is even called “Honeymoon Island”!
Accommodation on Rarotonga or Aitutaki, the two largest islands, is easiest to come by and will be the perfect home base for day trips to the other islands, some of which are as uninhabited and remote as the Outback. Takutea, for example, has incredible diving on its untouched reefs, but you’ll need to say “Kia orana!” (hello) to the High Chief and get permission to go there. Adventure lovers can check out Mangaia, the oldest of the isles and home to cliffs, caves and lakes, plus unique red volcanic soil and “tropical potatoes” for the taking.
Sticking to the two main islands also provides plenty of memory-making. Anyone can be a play-buoy on Cook Islands holidays with chartered boat tours and fishing trips; if you’d rather be in the water, snorkel with new fishy friends or soak up some vitamin “sea” as you splash in the waves. On Aitutaki, visit the motus (small, palm-filled isles)—just make sure you’ve packed your sunnies, as you’ve never seen anything like these sparkling turquoise waters.
Flights to the Cook Islands land at Rarotonga International Airport (RAR), and from there the local airline can fly you to most islands, for a price, of course. The flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki is about 45 minutes, and on either island, it’s easiest to buzz around on two wheels with a scooter rental. Neither island has stoplights or many paved roads, but Rarotonga does have bus service. Buses run on the one main road all the way around the island, so all you have to know is whether to go clockwise or anti-clockwise!
With a true-blue tropical climate, any time is a good time to book accommodation on the Cook Islands. Temperatures hover in the high 20s C year-round, with the most rainfall from December to March. The “cooler” months are June through August, although temps will still be in the low- to mid-20s. While we can’t completely predict the weather, great deals are definitely in the forecast, and severe storms are rare. Since hotels on the Cook Islands are in what might be the most perfect climate on earth, how do you decide when to go? Rarotonga’s spectacular festivals are a great time to visit. Te Maeva Nui, in July, marks the nation’s independence and is a huge celebration filled with parades, dance competitions and imene tuki singing performances (this means “hymn of grunts”—which is bound to be interesting).
Ready to get cultured while enjoying small-town kindness and gorgeous scenery? (And who wouldn’t be?) Find the perfect Cook Islands accommodation from Wotif, and get packing!