The Cook Islands are known as “the best kept secret in the Pacific ocean”. These 15 islands, halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, are scattered across 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean.
The islands are sparsely populated but have a vigorous and diverse culture with significant differences between each island. They are a mix of atolls and volcanic islands. The three main islands are Rarotonga, the hub and primary island, Aitutak, called the honeymoon island because of its beauty, and Atiu, land of the birds with a volcanic core bordered by coral. These three – and six smaller islands – make up the southern group. Six other islands make up the northern group. All are largely unspoiled by tourism; there are no high-rise hotels and very little hype.
The Cook Islands culture is moulded by its Polynesian heritage mixed with a European influence. The art, skill and grace of their dancing and their drumming is extraordinary. Music is a big part of their life and this is reflected in the numerous festivals throughout the year.
You can walk down the aisle of a traditional Polynesian church to a melodic choir of island voices. Or be married barefoot on a beach. Or be carried by islanders onto a tiny island to pledge your vows under a frangipani bower.
The diving is spectacular, but also take a water tour and a lagoon cruise. On land, you can hire a scooter, mountain bike, comfort bicycle, single and double kayak, snorkel gear and a bodyboard, so there’s no excuse for being inactive! On Atiu, explore the limestone caves (you will require a guide). Visit Raka’s Cave with its 15 different chambers.
And At Night
The Friday Night Island Pub Crawl is usually organized by resorts. These pretty wild nights will end up with plenty of dancing and singing, but on Saturdays, bars close at midnight. For a holiday that breaks the mold, you may want to experience Cook Islands.
For more information, visit cookislands.travel