The fifteen individual islands that make up this tiny archipelago, scattered across some 2.2 million square kilometres of the South Pacific Ocean, offer an exceptional diversity of Polynesian culture and tantalizing scenic beauty. From its pristine coral-sand beaches and sparkling azure waters, bold effervescent sunsets lighting the evening skies, and the gentle caress of trade winds brushing the palms that fringe its translucent lagoons, the Cook Islands embody everything you could ever imagine a ‘tropical paradise’ to be. Add to that mix a little ‘Island Style’ charm from the local populace –some of the world’s friendliest, most hospitable people– and you have the makings of an unforgettable holiday in one of the world’s most romantic and remote hideaways.
The Islands of the Southern Group have easy access through the capital of Rarotonga, where all our international visitors are greeted by the scent of frangipani flowers and welcomed by the ukulele sounds of ‘Papa’ Jake Numaga. For the splendour of her mountains, lush greenery, aqua lagoons and white beaches rising out of the Pacific Ocean, Rarotonga stands alone. Just a 45-minute flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is the only atoll in the six inhabited southern group islands and home to one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. Conde Nast Travel, listed Aitutaki’s One Foot Island, as one of its top 30 beaches in the world! Easy accessible and wild is the island of birds, Atiu an island of unexpected life and lush forest. Atiu offers a quiet, jungle paradise with thundering breakers on the close-by coral reef. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands, but remains off the beaten track and is well loved by those who make the journey.
Close to the Equator is the Northern Group of the Cook Islands. Remote, pristine and very much off the beaten track, these are some of the few places left in the world where you can truly relax or explore in solitude. Reaching these islands it is an adventure itself – only few of them have small airports for charters. Manihiki, the island of Pearls, is well known for its abundance of black pearls. There are some accommodation options on Manihiki, that include meals, but as with most islands in the northern group, amenities can be quite sparse with intermittent electricity and hot water. Rakahanga, the sister island of Manihiki, is made up of a lagoon surrounded by two islands and seven small islets or 'motu' and has the distinction of being the first of the Cook Islands to have a recorded landing by Europeans. A Spanish friar, Juan De Torquemada, was so impressed by the physical attributes of the islanders that he named it the Island of 'Gente Hermosa', the Island of Beautiful People. The northernmost island in the Cooks group, Penrhyn is about 4 hours flight from Rarotonga. It is the largest atoll in the group of 15 islands and has a superb lagoon covering 233 sq km. The island of Pukapuka, traditionally known as Te Ulu O Te Watu, is located north-west 1,287 kilometres from Rarotonga and 450 kilometres from Samoa. Late American writer Robert Dean Frisbie’s settled on the island in 1924, writing a number of books there including ‘Island of Desire’