The perfect escape to get away from it all
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When you tell people where you’re going on holiday and they answer with “where is that exactly?” you straight away know you picked the perfect place. The Cook Islands are the South Pacific’s best-kept secret; situated in the middle of nowhere and with a population of only 20.000, it is the perfect escape to get away from it all. Still relatively untouched these cays and atolls is what paradise looks like in your wildest dreams. Expect tropical and green landscapes, mesmerizing turquoise waters and powder soft white sand.
The Cook Islands are a collection of 15 islands (of which 2 are uninhabited) with a total land area ofonly 241 km2 (2 594 ft2). However, these 15 islands are spread over a sea surface of more than 2 million square kilometers in the South Pacific Ocean. The main island and also port of arrival for the Cook Islands is called Rarotonga. It is the most populous island (more than half of the 20,000 Cookers live and work here) and here you find the capital Avarua. The main island offers palm-fringed beaches, hiking opportunities, colorful festivals and the chance to snorkel in warm, clear waters.
Rarotonga grew out of a rocky volcano, which collapsed to form a round island with rugged peaks and hidden waterfalls. We recommend to visit Te Rua Manga (The Needle), which is buzzing with wildlife. It's a great walk up to the Needle, the views at the top are breath taking. You will need to have a good level of fitness, wear good shoes and please take plenty of water. Another good opportunity to admire the island's flora and fauna is at the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens, where you can find much of the local vegetation.
On Saturday mornings, go and visit the lively Punanga Nui Farm Market in the 'capital' Avarua. Sample local cuisine, including fish and seafood, and enjoy live music while shopping for souvenirs, locally grown vegetables, and flowers.
How to get around
Chickens and coconuts are just two examples of the obstacles on Rarotonga's roads. There are only two roads: the Ara Tapu (Sacred Road) and the Ara Metua (Ancient Road). The Ara Tapu runs around the entire island, close to the coast and is paved. The Ara Metua does the same, but a few hundred meters inland and is (partly) unpaved. All houses, barns, shops and public toilets are located on these two roads. Without a single traffic light on the island, driving is an experience in itself. You can also use the buses that run left and right on the island. Bus drivers will pick you up and drop you off on request. A trip around the island takes only 50 minutes.
Rarotonga International Airport is the main gateway to the Cook Islands. The number of boats sailing between the islands is very irregular; sometimes there are weeks in between and there is usually no fixed ferry service. Travelling by boat is a more sustainable option and we would always recommend it, but we suggest that if you are in a hurry you travel by plane. From the air you can see how forests overflow from palm beaches into the turquoise sea, a breathtaking sight.
Where to stay
You can't go wrong if you decide to stay at Ikurangi Eco Resort. The place is super luxurious and they serve delicious healthy breakfasts. Since we practice yoga and meditation we loved that it was quiet and tranquil.
Picture by: Booking.com
We spend hours and hours at the lovely pool. What makes this place most special were the hosts.
The ocean always comes very gently onto the beach, because a few hundred meters from the coast there is a large reef around the island. This reef breaks all the waves and ensures a calm sea all the way to the beach. The life underwater is spectacular with beautiful coral and a wide array of colorful fish.
The prices on the cook islands are very high. You want to buy an egg? CI$2.50, please. Is that per box? No, per piece.
Best time to visit
The best months to visit the Cook islands are from June until October. These are slightly cooler months but also see less rain. With pleasant average temperatures that range between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius (73-79 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and around 18° C (64° F) at night its the perfect time to explore the islands. Click here for more climate details.