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Your easy, breezy holiday guide to the Cook Islands

Your easy, breezy holiday guide to the Cook Islands

 The Cook Islands is a beautiful South Pacific country, with perfect beaches, welcoming locals, and delicious food. It's an ideal spot to visit for a holiday, whether on your own, or with friends and family. Here is our guide to the Cook Islands - all the information you need about this tropical paradise.

Here's what you need to know before you go!

1) What are the Cook Islands entry requirements?

If you're vacationing, there are no specific requirements for entering the Cook Islands outside of what you'll need for any travel to a foreign country. This means your passport will need to be valid for six months beyond your stay, and you'll need to prove you have the means to leave at the end of your holiday.

In some cases, you might be required to supply proof of funds and accommodation. Meeting this criteria allows you to stay for 31 days, however, extensions can be granted to allow up to six months stay.

2) When is the best time to visit the Cook Islands?

In short, there is no bad time to go. While the Cook Islands have a rainy season that runs from December to April, even this wet season is relatively gorgeous. As the bouts of rain (and occasional cyclones) tend to be short bursts, the climate is a bit warmer during these months, but with cool breezes and occasional rain offer refreshing contrast.

If you'd rather play it safe, the best time to go would be late April or May, or even October and November. Taking your holiday either side of the rainy season lets you experience the amazing weather without the extreme highs or unpredictable cyclones.

The Cook Islands use New Zealand dollars as the primary currency. The age old question "how much money should I take?" really depends on your lifestyle. Top tier dining will be similar in cost to what you would pay in Australian hubs - however, with ample markets and street food, you can eat wonderful fresh and delicious food for far cheaper than you would at home. Car, bike and scooter hire is inexpensive, though day passes for public transport are a little more pricey and attractions can vary greatly in price.

3) How far will my money go in the Cook Islands?

You could certainly get along just fine on NZ$100 per day, but we've heard wonderful holiday stories from those on a budget of only $30 per day! A Visa Cash Passport could be a great option for Rarotonga, but if you're visiting the nearby island of Aitutaki you should definitely take cash.

Here's what you can do when you get there!

1) Explore the natural beauty of the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are home to some of the most lush scenery in the Pacific. Whether you want to hike through the native bush, delve into some of the amazing cave networks, or merely relax on a beach that wholeheartedly embodies the "tropical island", the Cook Islands can provide it.

No trip to the Cook Islands can be considered complete without a day spent on Aitutaki. This is home to a  picture perfect, world-famous lagoon - turquoise water, small islands dotting the horizon, and perfect white sand. it's like stepping into a postcard.

Meanwhile, on Tapuaetai (One Foot Island) you can bask among the coconut palms, while Rarotonga's Muri Beach is perhaps the most beautiful - an ideal spot for snorkeling enthusiasts to check out the unique sea life.

Parts of the Cook Islands have dense coral limestone cave networks, carved out by fresh water flowing down the mountains over millennia. The caves of Atiu are a wondrous site to behold, and you could easily spend your entire time of this island exploring the underground cave network. Motuanga (The Cave of 1000 Rooms) on the south-east corner of Ma'uke is similarly spectacular.

There are also a number of great walks you can do. Maungapua is the highest point on Aitutaki. At 124 metres above sea level, it takes a mere 30 minutes to reach the summit, which yields astounding panoramic views. Those with a little more ambition can undertake a Rarotongan cross island walk - four hours through dense forest, around waterfalls and pools, through to the sites of some of the best views in the Cook Islands.

2) Eat, drink, be merry

The Punanga Nui Market takes place every Saturday in Rarotonga's Avarua District, and is a great way to immerse yourself in the local cuisine and shopping. The market has everything from fresh fruit to ukuleles, making it a great spot to pick souvenirs for your loved ones at home.

Trader Jacks is one of the more famous dining spots in the Cook Islands, with great views and mouth-watering food, this is one place you absolutely must check out. Don't miss the traditional dishes that will be on offer - the rich flavours of coconut cream, taro leaves, raw fish and sea cucumber are markedly different and a thrill for the tastebuds.

3) Immerse yourself in the culture

Those looking to experience some of the local culture need to check out one of the famous Island Nights performances. Song and dance play a significant role in the culture here, and Island Nights showcase the best of the best. These are wild and exuberant performances that often include a feast. Be sure to book, as these are often the busiest events on the Islands. Cook Island Maori culture is not merely limited to these performances - it's everywhere. From traditional tattoo to the language itself, the people of the Cook Islands love to share what their culture is all about.

With direct flights leaving from Sydney, Auckland and LA, the Cook Islands is a primary holiday destination. For more information on organising your holiday in the Cook Islands, contact us now, but be warned - the only hard part is having to leave at the end.