Named after the famous explorer Captain James Cook, the Cook Islands lie in the South Pacific northeast of New Zealand. The main island, and gateway to the region, is Rarotonga. Here you will find the mood relaxed and carefree with a strong cultural identity, and the people are some of the friendliest in the world.
The locals are Polynesian with close ethnic affinity to the indigenous people of Tahiti (Maohi), New Zealand (Maori), and Hawaii (Kamaina). Most Cook Islanders are bilingual – speaking both Maori and English.
The two main areas to travel in the Cook Islands are Rarotonga and Aitutaki. The island of Rarotonga is popular with families and couples, and has many restaurants, bars and cafes to visit. The inland areas have lush rainforest and valleys with plantations and village gardens. Rarotonga is fringed by white sandy beaches, and swimming and snorkelling is safe and enjoyable. Diving is on coral reefs and is suitable for open water and above. There are about 35 dive sites around the island, ranging from overhangs and swimthroughs to drop-offs, and even a river of sand. You can see many kinds of tropical reef fish, as well as sharks, rays and turtles.
A short flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is the idyllic “screensaver” tropical island with white sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal blue lagoons. Diving here is delightful. You are likely to see moray eels, spotted eagle rays, napoleon wrasse and big green turtles. It is mostly wall diving, with one wreck, the “Alexander” barge.
Club Raro Resort is on the northern coast of Rarotonga just 2.5 km from the airport. It’s only 1.5km from the main township where you can shop and visit restaurants. Accommodation includes dormitory, standard garden, poolside and lagoonside rooms. Activities include tennis, volleyball, freshwater pool with swim-up bar, snorkelling and massage services. Rental vehicles are available and there is also a bus that circles the island once per hour in each direction.
Aitutaki Resort & Spa
The Aitutaki Resort and Spa is located just off the main island, on its own private island (or motu, in the local language). There are four room types from Beach Bungalow to Overwater Bungalow – the perfect honeymoon destination. You can swim at any time in the lagoon, or you can lounge around the landscaped freshwater pool if you prefer. The aptly-named Sunset Beach is the setting for Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill, and a spa facility is located right in the resort.
Rarotongan Beach Resort
The Rarotongan Beach Resort is nestled directly on Aroa Beach, Rarotonga’s best white sand beach on the island’s sunshine coast. Right in front of the resort is Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve the best snorkelling spot on Rarotonga where you can play with the rainbow coloured reef fish in the quiet protected waters. You have a choice of rooms, some situated within the lush tropical gardens, other suites close to the water’s edge & deluxe beachfront suites with direct sea views.
Muri Beach Resort
This intimate, boutique island resort located on the stunning Muri Lagoon, offers beautifully decorated deluxe accommodation boasting a range of modern conveniences, set amongst a tropical landscaped garden and only steps away from your villa is a magnificent aquatic playground. Fill your days exploring the pristine snorkelling area right on your doorstep with complimentary use of kayaks & equipment or relax by the pool sipping tropical cocktails. This is the perfect setting for your tropical island getaway.
Rarotonga Beach Bungalows
Rarotonga Beach Bungalows is ideally located on Titikaveka Beach offering excellent swimming & snorkelling. It is also within easy reach of Muri Beach & Avurua giving you even more idyllic places to relax & unwind. The resort is designed for couples looking for a secluded beach holiday or a tropical honeymoon. The resort is small and intimate built in a Polynesian Village design with the 5 Deluxe Beach Bungalows offering a lounge, a dining area, kitchenette & a large covered deck facing the acquamarine lagoon. It captures the romantic “retro” atmosphere of the old 1940′s South Seas.
Entry Requirements: Australian passport holders require six months validity beyond your departure from the Cook Islands, an onward or return air ticket, and prior accommodation bookings. A visitor visa is not required for stays under 31 days. For more information and for holders of other passports, please refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for the latest travel advice.
Money: The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the unit of currency. One Australian dollar buys approximately 1.2 NZD. There are three legal tender Cook Island coins – $1, $2 and $5 – which are not negotiable outside the Cook Islands, but make for interesting souvenirs.
Language: Languages spoken on the islands are English, Cook Islands Maori (known as Rarotongan) and Pukapukan.
Electricity: 220-240V and uses the Australian plug type.
Time Zone: GMT-10 (14 hours behind Sydney). Tahiti is across the International Date Line so your flight itinerary may look a little strange.
Clothing: Light, casual clothing is recommended. A light sweater may be required in the evening.
Climate: The climate is pleasantly tropical throughout the year with an average temperature of 24°C. The wet season lasts from November to April and the dry season runs from May to October. Overall, Rarotonga enjoys a fairly even climate with few extremes.
Water Temperature: 23°C in winter to 30°C in summer.
Departure Tax: None at 1 July 2012.
Tipping: Tipping is not encouraged in the Cook Islands. Tip with a smile and ‘meitaki ma’ata’ (thank you). Polynesian custom says that if you give something for nothing, the person receiving will owe you – and that’s how a tip is perceived. Bargaining can also be taken as an insult.
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