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Destination — Cook Islands

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Cook Islands

Rarotonga, Cook islands
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are warm, safe, friendly, and most importantly… affordable! Stepping into the arrival hall you hear the soft sound of the Ukulele playing. While receiving a flower ‘ei, You are greeted by your host with a big “Kia Orana”, meaning “welcome”, “welcome home”, and “may you live a long and fulfilling life!”

Thankfully devoid of anything pretentious, the stress and tension you arrived with mysteriously disappear as you ease into the laid-back Polynesian life and stunning lagoon views.

The two most visited islands are Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

Rarotonga cajoles you to stay, and live like a local in its paradise.  Sunsets you can barely imagine.  Long walks on uninterrupted white sand beaches, the fresh scent of the crashing waves on the reef, beyond the reef breaching whales, and whale tails are a common sight July through October.  If the cross-island jungle trek is more your speed, the well-marked trail is easy to follow.  The stunning lagoon and ocean views from The Needle, the summit, make it worth the effort.  Finish with a cold beer in Avarua!  The Saturday Market is a special slice of Cook island life, fascinating people-watching, food, art, musical, and dance performances.  Not to be missed.

Aitutaki is the one most likely to steal your heart.  The stunning lagoon is 70 square kilometers of every shade of blue you can possibly imagine.  You must see the fantasy garden of actual giant clams!  They make you feel like you are in an ancient Mariner’s dream, but they really do exist and are an absolute gem.  There are also smaller clams with colors so bright they seem unreal.  The lagoon tour is out of this world, you will want to dig in your heels and never leave.  These precious views will be the “screen-saver of your mind” for years to come.

Closer than you think.

Hawaiian Airlines operated a weekly non-stop service from Honolulu to Rarotonga every Saturday with a Sunday return

Starting September 12 – October 28. 2023.

Weekly Saturday service will provide travelers from Hawaiian Airlines 15 U.S. Continental gateway cities with convenient one-stop connections over Honolulu.

Let’s explore the Cook Islands.

Fifteen islands make up the Cook Islands, located half-way between Hawaii and New Zealand in the South Pacific, in the same time zone as Hawai’i—an unspoiled paradise, complete with white sand beaches, blue lagoons, and lush green mountains.
You will find no branded resorts, no buildings taller than a coconut tree, no crowds, and no stop lights – yet the islands offer modern conveniences, and undiscovered luxury, with a wide range of accommodation options and activities for every type of traveler.

Cook Islands Map
Outer Islands

The outer islands are remote and unspoiled for the explorer, author and artist in all of us. Eight sister islands are in the Southern Group and seven more lie to the North. Some are accessible by local flights, all are accessible by boat. Off the beaten track and spread over 900 square miles of the South Pacific Ocean, their uniqueness and timeliness are their own reward.

The History and People

Cook Islanders are true Polynesians connecting directly back to the finest seafarers of the Pacific. Sophisticated navigation took them fearlessly in search of new lands. Their bravery, skill, and strength far outpace legendary adventurers from Portugal, Spain, the Dutch, and the English. From 1500 BC, Polynesian islands were gradually populated by Māori ancestors from New Zealand. They landed in their Vakas (magnificent giant double-hulled canoes) guided by the stars and their famous navigation power. The very center of Polynesia. Polynesians arrived in Rarotonga around 800 AD, sailing from Tupua’i, now French Polynesia

 

The high-spirited Cook Islanders are a cosmopolitan blend of western influence and ancient Polynesian heritage. Like any true blooded Māori, they enjoy the splendor of public events, big ceremonies with traditional customs and much feasting. Hospitality, smiles and a warm welcome come naturally.

Regenerative Travel

The Cook Islands are dedicated to promoting a sustainable and regenerative approach to tourism. Their goal is to provide visitors with a more fulfilling and impactful experience by encouraging them to leave the beautiful paradise islands better than when they arrived. The concept of sustainability and regeneration is deeply ingrained in the Cook Islands culture, something they have been practicing for generations.

They want the visitors to the Cook Islands to seek out adventure, learning opportunities, and connections with others while also using their travels as a means of making a positive impact on the little paradise they call home.

Travel Guide

Language

There are three distinct languages in the Cook Islands. Cook Island Māori, Pukapuka – a Western Polynesian mix of Cook Island and Māori. The official Cook Island language is Cook Island Māori and English.

Currency

The currencies used throughout the country are the New Zealand dollar and the Cook Islands dollar. The New Zealand dollar is recommended for tourists as the Cook Islands dollar is only good on the Cook Islands. ATMs will issue New Zealand dollars. 

Foreign currency exchange is available on the island of Rarotonga only via the Bank of the Cook Islands and Western Union/No.1 Currency Exchange, located in the Avarua town area. Foreign currency exchange options offered are:

  • Bank of the Cook Islands: USD, AUD, FJD, CAD, GBP, XPF
  • Western Union/No.1 Currency Exchange: USD, AUD, GBP, FRF, EUR, CAD, FJD

Major credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops. Several ATMs can be found on Rarotonga, Aitutaki has two ATMs and two banks, and cash is needed for the smaller islands.

Weather

The Cook Islands has a warm tropical climate all year round. With a consistent environment and warm water temperatures, the Cook Islands make a great year-round destination. November to February is the rainy season, rainfall, and humidity.  Temperatures range from 70- 82F. April to November are drier, with average temperatures of 78.8 F.

Health Requirements

There are no current vaccination mandates to enter the Cook Islands.

Entry Requirements

You will need a passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the date you expect to leave the Cook Islands and proof of an onward/return ticket. A visa is only required when traveling from the United States as a tourist over 30 days.

Wi-Fi 

Most resorts and hotels on the Cook Islands offer onsite Wi-Fi vouchers; you will also find Wi-Fi hotspots around the islands. 

Tipping 

Tipping is not customary but appreciated. The recommendation is no more than 10% of services.

Electricity

Electricity voltage is 240 AC/50 cycle, the same three-pin plugs as used in New Zealand and Australia. Some hotels have outlets for 110-volt AC electric razors. From the US, you should bring an adaptor.

Water

Do not drink tap water. The accommodation providers have filtered taps; boiling tap water before drinking is always best. You can also refill your reusable bottle at filtered water stations around the island.

Dengue Fever

While the risk to visitors is low if you are concerned about dengue fever, we recommend you use insect repellent, wear light-colored protective clothing, and stay in an accommodation with mosquito screens on windows and doors. Accommodation providers and other tour operators continue to take precautionary action by spraying to eradicate mosquitoes.

Snakes?

No. There are no snakes, and most insects are harmless – but look out for centipedes, which can sting.

More information can be found on the  The Cook Islands Ministry website.

Customize Your Experience


Our itineraries provide the perfect foundation to plan your desired trip, so you can adjust destinations, activities, and lodgings to suit your tastes best. We highly recommend customizing to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We are delighted to assist you and make any necessary reservations.