About Cook Islands

Where can you find paradise, friendly Polynesian people, delicious food and vibrant culture? Why the Cook Islands of course! This is the absolute perfect place to visit if you want to return home after a holiday feeling totally refreshed - of course, you'll still feel sad leaving, but that's all the more reason to come back!

The list of reasons why the Cook Islands makes for a wonderful holiday destination stretches on for miles. For a start, it is hands down the perfect place to relax. With white sandy beaches and balmy blue seas as well as an easy-going atmosphere and fun-loving, genuine locals, you can't help but feel totally at ease and slip into island time.

If adventure is what you're after, you'll find tons of outdoor activities on land and and in the ocean, and there are many colourful attractions scattered throughout the islands. The easy, breezy beach bungalows are the perfect place to stay.

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Popular Regions

Rarotonga

This is the main island of the Cook Islands and is a fabulous holiday destination in its own right! You can stop off here and enjoy what makes it great, or use it as a base to discover more of the Cook Islands.

Completely surrounded by calm and beautiful seas, if you love the water, you'll love this area. Snorkelling and jet-skiing will take you beneath the waves or bouncing over top of them having the time of your life either way! Don't miss out on the inland adventures - delve into the tropical forests and mountains to go hiking or bungy jumping.

Bus around the island and sit back and relax, or if you want to be in charge of where you go, it's easy to hire a motor scooter or bicycle and zoom around the beaches and towns.

Aitutaki

Just 45 minutes of flying will see you at another fabulous location, Aitutaki. With the brilliantly blue and balmy Pacific Ocean all around, an utterly gorgeous lagoon and dotted with coral islets, you'll feel like you're in paradise on earth.

We dare you not to fall in love with Aitutaki as soon as you step foot on the island. Okay, we might be setting you up for failure. It's hard not to fall in love when there are vibrant blue lagoons, tropical vegetation and stretches of pristine beaches. You can visit the island for the day, but we have a feeling you'll want to stay longer. After all, how could a 24 hours be long enough when this area makes you never want to leave?

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People & Customs

COOK ISLANDERS are mainly Polynesians. The culture of the area is super diverse. The northern islands were settled way back around 800AD by people from the west, including Samoa and Tonga. Not to be outdone, locals from the Society Islands and Tahiti flocked to the Southern Islands to make their home. By the time the Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, island culture on every single one of the 15 islands was thriving.

Although fun-loving and friendly, Cook Islanders, like Tahitians and other Polynesians, are a conservative and generally religious people who hold on to their customary way of life and culture.

You will be enchanted by tiny 4 or 5 year old children performing in the traditional dances with pride and amazing skill. The art of dance is taken very seriously in the Cooks. Each island has its own special dances and these are practised assiduously from early childhood. There are numerous competitions throughout the year on each island.

Close harmony singing is highly developed in church music and the power and emotional impact of chants and hymns at weddings and funerals is well known to visitors who attend.

THE OUTER islands produce traditional weaving of mats, basketware and hats. Particularly fine examples of rito hats are worn by women to church on Sundays. They are made from the uncurled fibre of the coconut palm and are of very high quality.

A MAJOR art form in the Cook Islands is tivaevae. This is, in essence, the art of making handmade patchwork quilts. Introduced by the wives of missionaries in the 19th century, the craft grew into a communal activity and is probably one of the main reasons for its popularity.

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Top Things To Do

The first thing you will notice is how easy its to get around. Rarotonga, the main island, is 32km in circumference and takes just 45 minutes by car to circle the island – it truly is one big resort island. Plus its easy access to explore the island by scooter, the island bus service, or car.

There are endless adventures by day, both on the land and in the water to keep you entertained. Try Horse riding, an Island Safari by 4WD, Quad biking , visit Museums, Mountain biking, Tennis, Kids Club, Bowling, Cinema, Church, Putt Putt, Golf.

Explore the Lagoons. go Swimming, Snorkeling, Stand up Paddle Boarding, Kayaking, Sailing, Diving, Fishing, Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Kite Surfing, Lagoon Cruises, Raro Reef Sub, Whale Watching, Surfing.

With over 50 café’s and restaurants on Rarotonga alone, you are sure to find dining options to suit. Delicious fresh seafood and locally grown fruit and veg. Try the national dish, ika mata (fresh tuna marinated in coconut milk, lime & chilli). There are also easy going fun outdoor nightclubs in Avarua (town Rarotonga), such as Whatever Bar or Rehab. Or get onboard the Going Troppo Night Life Tour.

Meet the locals. With an authentic modern Polynesian culture it’s easy to engage with the warm local Maori people – see their amazing drumming and dancing talents at cultural shows, – join the congregation at church on Sunday, – chat at the markets and roadside stalls.

Make sure you visit the Saturday morning Punanga Nui markets in Avarua (town, Rarotonga) offers free entertainment, fresh food stalls and organic coffee as well as wonderful souvenirs. Be sure to get a black pearl.

And you must visit Aitutaki, arguably the most beautiful lagoon in the world, also boasting the Cooks very own Overwater bungalows. Cruise to Honeymoon Island or partake in sport fishing, kite surfing or simply immerse yourself in your own private escape

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General Health

A range of medical and dental services are available in Rarotonga which also includes a hospital. Aitutaki and Atiu also have limited medical aid with very small hospitals.

Emergency services operate on Rarotonga and there is an optometrist plus several pharmacies for prescriptions. Physiotherapists are also available for you to take advantage of while in the Cook Islands. Medical and dental services are available and there is a well-equipped hospital with New Zealand trained staff situated in Rarotonga, with a smaller hospital in Aitutaki. There are no venomous snakes and most of the insects are innocuous - but look out for centipedes which do bite. The coral reefs should be treated with caution.

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When to Go

December to June is summer in the Cook Islands. Bright sunny mornings, higher humidity, tropical quick showers to cool things down and perhaps the best time to get airfare and resort deals from Feb-May. Typically Dec/Jan is when Cookies living in Australia return home, so there are great deals on resorts, but book early for flights. February is the month of love, a perfect time to get a deal, get married or renew vows. See whales late Jun.

July is ‘mid-winter’, lower humidity, dry sunny days and low dew point. It is also the peak season for Kiwi’s, so book early to avoid disappointment. September is the biggest month for arrivals on the islands. See whales Jul-Oct. Lots of festivals and sporting events happen in Nov so there is always lot’s happening.

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Family Friendly

To most of us, family and friends are our top priority. However, it’s also a well known fact that these days we spend longer hours than ever before at work.

Solution? Learn from the Polynesians who know how to get life in balance. Take a trip to the place where family is the most important factor in daily life. The extended family is an everyday part of life – grandchildren often living with grandparents, nieces and nephews with aunts and uncles – and family lineage features strongly in any Cook Island dynasty.

The Cook Islands is perfect for families. Kids Club group leaders are very involved and interactive. A Cook Islands family holiday will see you sharing experiences that bring the family closer together and have you returning home with great memories.

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Got the info you need? Ready to relax in Cook Islands?