Top 10 Islands of the World: Cook Islands | It’s the last of 10 recommendations in our mini series “Top 10 Islands of the World”. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a castaway in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands might be just right for you. Strung between French Polynesia and Samoa but with strong ties to New Zealand, the archipelago’s 15 islands are known for their enticing aquamarine lagoons, palm-fringed beaches, and volcanic peaks. But be warned: our vacation will become expensive. Rarotonga is the main tourist hub, with its many resorts, lush peaks, and plentiful beaches. Aitutaki competes with the beauty of Bora Bora, and also comes with kind of the same price tag. Hibiscus-laced villages snuggle on the hillsides, and along its heavenly lagoon lie 21 smaller islets, many within kayak distance of the resorts. Ensconce yourself here in an over-the-water bungalow or hole up in a rustic beach shack on a remote out island and live your Robinson Crusoe fantasies.
The Cook Islands is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 240 sq km. Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to other New Zealand citizens. There is a larger population of Cook Islanders in New Zealand, particularly the North Island. 58,008 self-identified as being of ethnic Cook Islands Māori descent. With more than 100,000 tourists traveling to the Cook Islands every year, tourism is the country’s main industry, and the leading element of the economy, ahead of offshore banking, pearls, and marine and a bit of fruit exporting.
Named after Captain Cook, who sighted them in 1770, the Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand. In 1965 residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand. The Kiwis still handles defense, foreign affairs (including issuing passports) and currency.
How to get to Cook Islands
Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) will be your main gateway to get in. There are daily services from Auckland (3.5h) and weekly services from Sydney, Fiji and Los Angeles. The only international airlines at present are Air New Zealand, once-weekly Air Tahiti, and twice-weekly Virgin Australia. Air New Zealand has code share arrangements with other Star Alliance members including United. Rarotonga is a popular stopover on Round-the-world-flights. But there is another way to get in: Rarotonga and Aitutaki are regular stops for boat cruises operating from Tahiti. If you’re planning to sail to the Cook Islands you must enter through one of the five designated ports of entry. These are Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu in the Southern group, and Penrhyn and Pukapuka in the Northern group.
Where to stay on Cook Islands
booking.com lists 172 properties to choose from. But they all sell fast. It is possible to stay for 60 Euros per night. But in order to get a bed on the lower end (2-star-resorts) you better book 1 year in advance. The Cook Islands are called “the Mallorca for New Zealanders”, demand is high year round. For those of you able to fork out 1,000+ Euros per night: try the Pacific Resort Aitutaki – a luxury resort on Amuri. At this price it comes with a free airport shuttle and free bike rental :D
Top 10 Islands of the World Cook Islands. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Check out all other Top 10 Islands one by one -> Seychelles | Tahiti | St. Lucia | Palawan | Fiji | Cebu | Bora Bora | Mykonos | Whitsunday Island.