Written by catsholiday on 14 Jan, 2011
Where are these islands?The Cook Islands are a group of fifteen tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand. Although there are only fifteen islands and they are all quite tiny they are spread over 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean. The islands…Read More
Where are these islands?The Cook Islands are a group of fifteen tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand. Although there are only fifteen islands and they are all quite tiny they are spread over 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean. The islands are divided into two groups: the Southern Cook Islands, and the Northern Cook Islands. We visited two of the Southern islands, Raratonga and Aitutaki and these are a good 45 minute flight apart from each other.Useful information for visitors: Visas aren't needed for a stay of up to31 days, only valid passports, proof of onward travel and booked accommodation.Time Zone: GMT/UTC -9Electricity: 240V ,50Hz and two pin flat plugs are used like Australia and NZA potted history:The Cook Islands were from 1888, a British Dominion but they were annexed by New Zealand on 7th October 1900. However since 1903 the Cooks Islands have been independent but remain under New Zealand's governance, although a Cook Islands Legislative Council was elected in 1946.In April 1965, the first elections were held and a government led by Albert Henry was formed. The islands are self-governing in association with New Zealand. This is a unique relationship and all Cook Islanders have an automatic right New Zealand citizenship as well as their own nationality.These islands are Polynesian in their culture and it is believed that the first people landed on Raratonga in 800AD coming from what is today French Polynesia. It is also said that the first of the proud Maori people left from Raratonga for the shores of New Zealand in the 5th century AD.Europeans first noticed these islands in 1595 when a Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendana made note of them. The British first sighted Pukapuka in 1764 and then the infamous Captain Bligh landed his ship the HMS Bounty on Aitutaki in 1798. 1821 saw the arrival of the first Christian missionaries whose influence spread rapidly throughout the Cook Islands. Fortunately the islanders did manage to keep a good many of their own traditions despite their conversion to Christianity. They did however drop their cannibalism which was probably a good thing for the missionaries.Language spoken:Although English is the main language of communication , Cook Islands Mãori or Maori Kuki Airani is becoming more widely spoken and has been our official language since 2003. Cook Island Maori is also referred to as ‘Te reo Ipukarea’ or "the language of the Ancestral Homeland’.RaratongaRaratonga is the most populated of the islands and it is the centre of the government as the Parliament Building is in Avarua, the capital city of Raratonga and the Cook Islands too. The International Airport is also on Raratonga and from here flights go daily to the other islands in the group.The island is tiny and I thought as we were coming in to land ‘I hope the pilot doesn’t miss it!’ It is only a tiny 20 miles in circumference and has an area of 26 square miles. We drove around it in under three hours stopping at any site of interest on the way. Driving is all 30mph and there are very few cars as most people use scooters and motor bikes. Our car that we hired was ‘interesting’ I might get round to writing a review at some time!From the moment you land you are made to feel welcome. The airport is quite tiny and fairly basic but everything seemed to work efficiently. We were met and taken to our hotel in a mini bus with little fuss and that is what you want after a long journey really.You don’t really need a car on the island as the bus is quite good but we wanted to explore a bit further so we did hire one for a day. There is one main "ring" road that follows the coast. In some places there is also a secondary ring road slightly further inland but as the interior is so mountainous there is no road across the island.There is a great bus service on the island which goes around the island clockwise and anti clockwise and there are bus stops all along the route and sometimes people were dropped off in between as well. I can’t remember how much the fares were but not much at all and we used it a few times to get into Avarua. It did seem to be mainly tourists using the bus when we were there but there were a few locals. They seemed to use their scooters and double up on those.As you drive around the island there are several places of interest to try and find. Some were easier than others. We spent quite some time hunting for the different Stone remnants of the Marae which were ancient open places of worship of the Polynesian culture. We found some stones but we were not sure if these were the right stones as there was no notice to say what they were. We only had a map to go on and this was fairly simple but we enjoyed looking for them anyway.One rather sad sight was a huge development by the Sheraton group which lay disused and left empty. This was built prior to the financial collapse in the 1990s and looks as though not much will be happening with this at all. It seems rather a waste and we felt it could be made into apartments for local people rather than just left to fall down.A little further down this road is the house where the Queen’s representative lives but all we could see was a flag and a simple sign with a nice tropical garden. I should think they are queuing for this plum job in the consul offices as this has to be one of the nicest most welcoming islands in the world.Continuing round the island we get to Vaka village where there is a really beautiful CICC church where the priest here in 1827 - 1854 spent years translating many works of literature into Maori. Across from this beautiful building is a small park and a sheltered harbor where legend has it that seven canoes left here in 1350 to make their way to New Zealand. The names of the seven canoes are carved on a monument in this car park beside the shore.We drove along the inner road for some of our trip as we were looking for rural scenery and local plants like taro growing. Some of the houses were just so pretty and everyone took such pride in their gardens it was a really lovely drive. We felt quite comfortable stopping to take photos when we found something that we found interesting as everyone was so friendly and smiley. This inner road is said to be an ancient road, the oldest in Polynesia. It has a coral foundation laid by chief Toi over a thousand years ago.We were able to go inland as far as Wigmore’s waterfall. This stream and falls are quite pretty but despite being lathered in deet we were still getting bothered by mossies so we didn’t hand around too long. It is possible to walk into the interior of the island along a track from here but we ran back to the car to avoid being eaten alive and continued our driving exploration instead.We thoroughly explored everything on our list of things to see in our guide book plus hunting out things we wanted to see like the farming areas and taro growing so we returned our little Nissan Micra cabriolet car to the rental office and walked back across the road to our lovely little hotel to spend the rest of the day by the pool.Raratonga may not be the most exciting island for sightseeing but the atmosphere and welcome feeling you get as you explore the place more than makes up for this.Compared to Tahiti this island is so much better value. Food and drink cost are reasonable and most of the sights around the island are free. You don’t feel like you are being ripped off at every turn here. The island is beautiful and despite the fact it was raining a lot of the time we were here, it was hard to not be impressed by the luxurious foliage, white sand beaches, the lovely well kept tropical gardens and the genuine happy welcoming faces of the local people who are justifiably proud of their culture and their country.If you can only visit one South Sea Island then this or Samoa are probably the most unspoilt and certainly much cheaper and far more attractive than Tahiti so I would recommend either of these two islands.Close
Avarua, the capital city of Raratonga and the whole Cook Islands:Avarua has to one of the smallest capital cities I have visited but when you realize the entire population of the island is only 14,000 by comparison, Derby has a population 0f 220,000 it is…Read More
Avarua, the capital city of Raratonga and the whole Cook Islands:Avarua has to one of the smallest capital cities I have visited but when you realize the entire population of the island is only 14,000 by comparison, Derby has a population 0f 220,000 it is not that surprising. The city had a few restaurants, shops, small supermarkets and two banks plus a tourist office but not a lot more.On Saturdays there is a great market called Punanganui which we spent about three hours wandering around. It sold everything from cloths, local food, fruit and vegetables as well as local crafts, pictures, fabrics and the famous South Sea Island black pearls . As well there were several areas where people and sang and performed local dances which was most entertaining. It was quite crowded but so crowded that you were not able to see the performances or get to look at the stalls. The little local bus the circuits the island dropped you off at the market and then you crossed the road to get the bus back to our hotel.There was a tiny museum housed in the same building as a very basic library. We did go in but when we had a peek there was so little in there and we had to pay so we decide we wouldn’t bother as it really was pretty pathetic as museums go. More interesting we found outside three volcanic stone sculptures with a number of carved boards depicting various legends/tales of the islands.Not far from the museum was the university and then coming back a bit more into the city we came across an old rather run down building which turned out to be the "Para O Tane Palace" the place where Makea Takau, a Paramount Chief, signed the treaty accepting the Cook Islands status as a British protectorate in 1888. This is now rather uncared for and considered unsafe so you can’t go in but the gardens are really rather lovely to walk through.At the corner of this road is the Cook Island Christian Church and the Papeiha Stone, named for the first person to preach the Christian gospel in the Cook IslandsThe church itself dates from 1853 and it does have quite a nice graveyard with a number of missionaries and Cook Island chiefs buried there.As we meet the main road again we notice another lovely looking building which is called the Beachcomber gallery. We while we were sitting enjoying our coffee that this was originally built by the London Missionary Society as a Sunday School hall and has been done up and converted into this rather lovely local art gallery, shops and a café.. Walking back in Avarua you come across the seven-in-One Coconut Tree, a group of trees growing in a perfect circle of their own. It is reputed that they've grown from the same seed.This group of trees in just near the main roundabout in Avarua.Just off shore there is the remains of the SS Matai, owned by the Union Steam Ship Co. This unfortunate ship was carrying a load of Model T cars when it was wrecked on Dec. 24, 1916. I’m not sure if they got all the cars off and from the shore there really isn’t much to see but it is now a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.If you want to see the House of Parliament then you need to drive out of Avarua towards the airport and keep going. This very unimpressive building is just alongside the road which is parallel to runway. This extremely modest House of Parliament fits the peaceful laid back atmosphere of the island and was apparently formerly the hostel for the construction workers of the airport in 1973. Blink and you would miss it.That is Avarua. A tiny little capital city with a warm heart. There is enough to see and do to fill a morning of sight seeing looking at these things I mentioned. The shops are okay, great if you want to buy some pearls and there are a number of cafes which all look very pleasant. The restaurants also looked great but as we were more than happy with our restaurant on the beach at our hotel we didn't try any of these but we did enjoy our coffee in the Beachcomber Gallery.So there you are a walk around Avarua on Raratonga.Close
Written by nofootprint on 26 Aug, 2009
For a truly romantic island get a way, head to the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands comprises 15 islands smack in the middle of the South Pacific. We spent a week here on the tiny island of Raratonga. It only took a day to unwind…Read More
For a truly romantic island get a way, head to the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands comprises 15 islands smack in the middle of the South Pacific. We spent a week here on the tiny island of Raratonga. It only took a day to unwind and start to feel the gentle rhythm of the island pace. Time stretches luxuriantly on and no one is in a hurry.....and why would they be ? It takes less than an hour to drive around the whole island.One of our biggest challenges was to decide which beach we liked best!!The Muri area is on the east coast and is the most popular spot for swimming. There are a few beach resorts and restaurants along the beach . Don't get me wrong this isn't Hawaii. It's pretty unspoiled. The sand is pure white and there are times when we didn't see anyone when we swam....oh to be there now!! The reef around the is island makes a lagoon to swim in . The water is pale turquoise and so warm!! In low tide you have to walk along to find a deep area as its quite shallow.A reef circles the whole island of Raratonga. It's amazing for snorkeling. We saw fish here we had never seen before with the most brilliant colours!! The water is so warm you can just float along and be entertained by the spectacular reef fish. We drove to a bunch of different sites and found the one we really liked was directly in front of a place called The Fruits of Rarotong. A really large amount and variety of fish hang out here!!We learned how to eat drink and be merry island style! ! Island Night is a feast with dancing, drums, and good food. There is a umu ...which is where various meats are roasted in a sand pit!! They roast pork, lamb, beef, chicken, and vegetables. A huge buffet is set up...desserts are amazing too!!We ate so much that night!! There are several different island nights to choose from but one of the best is at the Rarotonga Resort. It is on Wed and Sat night...costs $55.00 each and is worth it. We got a chance to hear some of the famous Cook Island drums...and watch the traditional dance!! I really liked the energy of the male dancers. My husband seemed more taken with the ladies wearing the coconut shells!!There are little islands near Rarotonga that you can easily kayak to. The first one we went to was Motu Taakoka. In reality you can walk to it, as it's so shallow in low tide. It is such a pretty island complete with tall coconut trees. Looks like something from one of those old post cards. I took so many pictures of it . On the far side of the island the water is deeper with some nice coral ...great for snorkeling. We anchored our kayak and snorkeled in different places around the island. Many of the hotels have kayaks available but it’s also possible to rent them quite cheaply.We hiked to a lovely waterfall called Papua Waterfall. You can also drive to it if island pace has set in and you’re too laid back. . It’s a water intake area and there are signs posted saying " no swimming". The funny thing is its mentioned in the tourist brochures as a great place for a refreshing swim!! Hummm we didn't drink the water anyway. The whole area around it is worth the trip...really lush. Flowers, mountains, ocean and a spectacular sunset all combined to make the Cook Islands one of the most perfect island get a ways.Close
Written by Pappa Mike on 04 Apr, 2004
It is said that Cook Islanders are the friendliest people in the world. While this may indeed be true, it is but one element of a culture that has remained virtually unchanged over the past three hundred years. The Cook Island Maori is…Read More
It is said that Cook Islanders are the friendliest people in the world. While this may indeed be true, it is but one element of a culture that has remained virtually unchanged over the past three hundred years. The Cook Island Maori is a proud, passionate and caring person. Deeply religious, the islanders have embraced Western Christian values, and as such, churches dot the villages of Rarotonga. From the moment you land on their islands, you will feel their genuine friendship and a willingness to share their island and culture with visitors.
To discover the culture of the Cook Islands, the best place to start is by attending one of the various, "Island Night" celebrations that occur at various locations on the island. The night begins with an Umukai, the traditional Polynesian feast. A hole is dug in the ground, and a fire started, the Umu is then lined with rocks. Once the fire dies down, green banana stalks and leaves are placed in the hole to provide a liner, which by now is steaming away. The food or Kai is then placed in the earthen oven and additional layers of banana or hibiscus are placed on top with a covering of dirt. The Kai, typically a whole pig or fish, along with various side dishes, is then left to steam in its own juices for a couple of hours, at which point you have created the Polynesian equivalent of "fast food." Those of you that have attended a Hawaiian luau have experienced much the same meal, but once the food is consumed, the dancing will not resemble the Hawaiian Hula.
The dancing in the Cook Islands is referred to as Kaiori and it bears only slight resemblance to its cousin the Hula. The dancers, dressed in traditional costumes, demonstrate dancing that has been passed down from generation to generation. Dancers range in age from middle-aged to small children, and the various dance troupes on the island clearly enjoy dancing and competing amongst themselves. Their annual dance competition draws visitors from the entire world as teams from the neighboring islands come to Rarotonga for the pageant. Viewing Cook Islands dancing for the first time will leave you with a sense of awe and to this day never fails to bring tears to my eyes. No wonder Captain Cook had trouble with a mutiny - the dancing is very authentic. Clearly nothing inspired by the tourist board, and, how shall I say, quite…sensual.
While Island Night is offered at a variety of resorts on Rarotonga, my favorite, and I feel the best value, is offered by the Staircase Restaurant (Ph. 22-254). At NZ$25.00 they offer a traditional buffet meal, sans the Umukai, with dancing provided by the Te Maneva Troupe, some of the finest dancers on the island. The Staircase has an intimate dining area and an opportunity to be right amongst the dancers. There is also a large deck, and if you decide to skip the buffet, entry to view the dancing is only NZ$5.00. The culmination of the night’s dancing involves audience participation, for which most of us visitors quickly find out we are ill equipped. The smiling dancers randomly pick people from the crowd to dance with and the resulting shaking never fails to draw laughs from one and all. Island night on Rarotonga will provide you with an introductory glimpse into the culture and traditions of the island’s Maori culture.
If you enjoyed "Island Night" and you are interested in knowing more about the history and culture of the Cook Islands, I suggest you sign up for the Cultural Village Tour (Ph. 21-314), which operates Monday through Friday. After a brief history lesson, you will be led through a variety of huts, where guides will demonstrate various aspects of Cook Island Maori life, including the making of traditional dancing costumes, fishing, local medicine, weaving, carving, and cooking. The 3½-hour tour ends with a demonstration of traditional singing and dancing, followed by an island meal, where you will get a chance to try a wide assortment of local foods. This extremely well-presented tour costs NZ$54.00, and transfers to and from your hotel are available for NZ$4.00. The tour has been a fixture on the island since 1988, is highly informative, and a must for those interested in the people and culture of Rarotonga.
Those interested in more history or culture should plan on visiting the National History & Library (Ph. 20-725) on the Eastern outskirts of Avarua. Make an inland turn at Victoria Road, directly across from the Paradise Inn, and it will lead you to the two buildings that house the museum and library. Entrance to the museum is free and offers a variety of exhibits. When you are done viewing the exhibits, head for the library, where you can fill out a temporary borrower’s card, pay a small deposit, and be allowed to check out books for a nominal fee.
Having participated in the three cultural features above, you are now ready to experience the event which will forever remind you of the special people and place that is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Sunday is a special day on all the islands in the Cook Island chain - the inter-island planes don’t fly, few restaurants are open, and the stage is set for the island’s legendary church services. You will see the locals in their finest clothes, women in their wide-brimmed hats and the males in long pants and starched shirts headed for the closest CICC (Cook Islands Christian Church) shortly before 10am on any Sunday. The visitor that attends the service in one of these churches will experience an awe-inspiring event. The hymn singing is beyond description, dating back to a period long before the missionaries brought Christianity to the islands. Clearly these people have been singing praise to their Gods for several centuries. Attend a church service and you will be rewarded by the sweetest of harmonies and hymn singing that is guaranteed to raise the roof of the church.
Once you have attended a Sunday church service, you should have a deep understanding and appreciation of the culture and the people I am happy to call my friends, the Cook Island Maori.
Written by ricardo on 01 Jul, 2000
Motus are tiny, usually uninhabited, islands – sometimes only piles of sand with a few palms – that build up around reefs or islands in the South Pacific. (Most of the sand is probably produced by the chewing and evacuating of parrotfish crunching up the…Read More
Motus are tiny, usually uninhabited, islands – sometimes only piles of sand with a few palms – that build up around reefs or islands in the South Pacific. (Most of the sand is probably produced by the chewing and evacuating of parrotfish crunching up the coral.) When I’m shivering in the cold and dark of a New England winter, motus and the Robinson Crusoe fantasies they engender, are what I dream about. So, I was happy to roam the motus in the lagoon of Rarotonga.
You can walk to two of them at low tide, and though they’re each only about an acre in size, tramping around under the palms with the geckos among the coral rubble and coconut husks made me want to go right back and re-read An Island To Oneself. (Actually, Tom Neal wrote that book during years alone on Suwarrow, one of the other Cook Islands, an atoll – a reef ring with motus on its edges and a central lagoon – hundreds of miles north of Rarotonga). Suwarrow’s now off limits to all but visiting yachts, but I’d recommend the book since a hermit’s life on a South Seas atoll is still a powerful relaxant on days when your blood pressure is up and you’re wondering why your boss is such an irritating buck-toothed monkey.
The first day tramping across Motu Tapu was the best. Not only did I discover a coral rubble field loaded with fish, but, as I was strolling across the island, along comes a French woman chattering away to her boyfriend. As French women are wont to do, she doffed her top and strolled around in the splendiferous altogether with that wonderful (or infuriating, depending on your perspective) Gallic attitude that she would teach these unsophisticated dolts the proper way to traipse around on a beach - the French way. I know I’m getting old when things like this happen, though, because my first thought twenty years ago when I was a spunky dude would have been Oolala. This time my first thought was Yow! This woman is a red-head. Those things are just going to freckle right up in this bright sun. And sure enough I could see half a dozen English firemen waiting a hundred yards down the beach with handfuls of sunscreen, anticipating just such an emergency. Always concerned for the public’s welfare those firemen.
Written by brianestadt on 26 Mar, 2006
If you're looking to take home something other than photographs and memories, here are a couple ideas that you might find interesting.1. A Cook Islands drivers license. You are not allowed to drive a vehicle in the Cook Islands unless you have a CI government…Read More
If you're looking to take home something other than photographs and memories, here are a couple ideas that you might find interesting.1. A Cook Islands drivers license. You are not allowed to drive a vehicle in the Cook Islands unless you have a CI government issued license. But don't worry about a time-consuming driver exam, even a blind 4-year-old can get one... as long as he's willing to pay 10 bucks. All that is required of you is to provide the name of where you're staying, stand in front of the camera, and smile. Oh, and hand in your money.The process essentially is a moneymaker for the government, but, hey, let's be honest, if you're going to deal with government extortion, I'd rather get a neat conversation starter like a foreign drivers license, than just be not-so-subtle demand for a bribe from a police officer. The licenses certainly are worth the money if you get carded, or pulled over for speeding, back at home even once.2. Stamps. The Cook Islands have an array of beautiful stamps available at the Avarua post office (located near the bus stop in Avarua). Even if you're not a stamp collector, you might want to pick up a couple of these for the quality of the art. My mother-in-law is an avid stamp collector, so we bought several sheets for her. For us, we settled on a beautiful oversized stamp that commemorated the discovery of Aitutaki (one of the Cook Islands) with a scene from the Mutiny on the Bounty. This oversized stamp was $4.20 in local currency... was worth it, I think.3. The currency itself. Though the Cook Islands uses New Zealand currency, it does have a local coin that features a representation of Tangaroa, the ubiquitous island god whose endowment is prominently displayed. Certainly a conversation starter back home.Close
Written by Jolantka on 04 Jun, 2008
AITUTAKIESCAPE TO PARADISEAitutaki is one of the 15 islands in the Cook Islands group. Well, it really is a shining pearl of Cook Islands. It is much more than just a tropical island with its fragrant and colorful flowers, sandy beaches, swaying palms and crystal…Read More
AITUTAKIESCAPE TO PARADISEAitutaki is one of the 15 islands in the Cook Islands group. Well, it really is a shining pearl of Cook Islands. It is much more than just a tropical island with its fragrant and colorful flowers, sandy beaches, swaying palms and crystal clear and warm waters. Aitutaki, meaning ‘to keep the fire going’, gives her name to a lagoon of all shades of turquoise and azure waters and islets and reefs surrounding the lagoon. Everything happens at a slow pace of ‘ Island Time’ so the most relaxing atmosphere prevails at all times. Aitutaki has a rich history starting with the first Polynesian settlers arriving in canoes, then Captain Bligh sighting the atoll in 1789 on board of ‘Bounty’ to be followed in 1821 by the first missionaries bringing Christianity to the local population. Charles Darwin visited in 1835 on board of ‘Beagle’ and 1850s brought whaling ships. Aitutaki was first to receive an airstrip built by Americans in 1942. It was the longest runway in the Cook Islands till 1974 when the airport in Rarotonga was completed. TEAL - Tasman Empire Airways Limited – has used, picture pretty from the air Aitutaki, as a fueling stop on its ‘Coral Route’ for refueling their flying boats in the 1950s. Some passengers had to spend a night on Akaiami motu, where the flying boats landed, when the weather prevented the flying boats from further travel to Tahiti. The stranded passengers were well looked after. Canoes brought supplies to Akaiami motu from Aitutaki so that the passengers could experience a culinary feast and entertainment from local dancers and musicians. The stranded passengers were delighted to have the unexpected extended stay in the most magical transit point on route. TEAL carried Queen Elizabeth in 1954, Graham Greene, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne to name a few famous names. When a flying boat once had to return to Tahiti for engine repairs and left some 40 passengers for a number of days on Akaiami motu they simply did not want to carry on their journey when the flying boat returned with the engine fixed. Today, TEAL services have been replaced by regular flights on Air Rarotonga and Aitutaki is the next after Rarotonga, most visited island in the group. Air Rarotonga airfares from Rarotonga are not cheap but some special fares of $109.00 each way can be found in the off peak time. Outside of the off peak specials it is a double of that price each way. In spite of the expense a trip to Aitutaki is a rewarding experience.It is possible to walk around the island and hike up to a 120 meters tall Maungapu for a 360 view. Maungapu, according to the legend, has been cut from the top of Raemaru Mountain on Rarotonga and brought to Aitutaki in canoes. It is the only hill here so it is effortless to bike around the island. A stop in Arutanga is a must; it is the town and harbour of Aitutaki. However, the lagoon boat tours depart from O’out Beach. And the lagoon and its motu are the main attraction of Aitutaki. Tapuaetai Motu, also known as One Foot Island, is a home of a small Post Office. The only Post Office based on an uninhabited island. Most visitors have their passports stamped with a very special stamp to commemorate their visit. A walk around the motu opens new and astonishing scenery with every turn. The warm water invites for a swim. Lazing on the beach in the shade of palm trees seems to be the most popular activity on lagoon motu. For those more active snorkeling is an option or even fishing. Kayaking is a popular spare time activity especially with a packed picnic, which can be enjoyed on a secluded beach. The fact is, that whatever the choice of activity or lack of it, the surrounds are the most spectacular and enchanting, the experience unforgettable. A Lagoon tour is an absolute must. The color of the water changes with depth and sunlight angle from turquoise to deep blue and the underwater life is spectacular. There are reefs, colorful fish and giant clams. The underwater visibility is crystal clear. In fact, one of the diving sites of the outer reef is called ‘Paradise’. But it is not only marine environment that can be described as paradise. Aitutaki has the most relaxing atmosphere. A lagoon tour is about discovering the amazing beauty of nature spiced up by lunch of fish, salads and fruit and a tune of ukulele and guitars. There is a great range of accommodation on Aitutaki. Nature disregards the expense involved and gives the same amazing performance of heavenly beauty to those that pay $1000.00 per night or $100.00 per night. It is also possible to visit Aitutaki on a Day Tour including Air Rarotonga airfare, island sightseeing bus tour and a boat tour of the lagoon on board of the Polynesian Titi-ai-Tonga catamaran. Those that choose the day tour promise to return to paradise. Those that spend some time on Aitutaki whish they could stay longer. Aitutaki has been charming its visitors for centuries and has been described as ‘Paradise on Earth’ in its legends, in the reports of the greatest air journeys of ‘Coral Route’ and by contemporary visitors.Close
Written by ImN2Fun2 on 23 Mar, 2006
Ah, The Cook Islands. A truly awesome location. Some might call it Paradise found, and it looks like it surely will be because Survivor is scheduled to shoot on Aitutaki later in 2006.We found the Cook islands to be a very uncrowded, friendly place to…Read More
Ah, The Cook Islands. A truly awesome location. Some might call it Paradise found, and it looks like it surely will be because Survivor is scheduled to shoot on Aitutaki later in 2006.We found the Cook islands to be a very uncrowded, friendly place to go to relax, do some deep-sea fishing, enjoy the beaches, take hikes, and just unwind.Rarotonga is an island that is surround by one road, which takes about an hour to get around. The road is lined with native tropical flora. There are no stop signs or traffic lights on Rarotonga, and the most popular vehicle you see is a scooter. Sure you can rent a car if you like so you can avoid the dreaded "Rarotonga Tatoo," a burn you often get if you wreck your scooter.Rarotonga is much less expensive than neighbor French Polynesia. It is also a lot less developed, though it is beginning to become more so.Neighboring Aitutaki has a lagoon as beautiful as the one at Bora Bora, and there are even some over the water bungalows if your hoping to try one of those.The Cook islands are magical place. Most everything is imported so food is a bit on the high side. Accomdations range from average to high end, with the island noticably not having the major chain hotels. Better accomodations include Reflections, Sokala Villas, White Sands Villas, and the Pacific Resort on Aitutaki. There are almost hourly flights between Rarotonga and Aitutaki.I highly recommend that you spend some time on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, especially if you want to relax. Often you can go out on a beach and not see a soul for hours. It is a perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the South Pacific. I will post a few photos that should give you a good idea of how beautiful these islands are.Close
I just want to make a note here for anyone contemplating a visit to the Cooks. It’s illegal to land in the islands without reservations for a place to stay. (They don’t want 'hippies' camping on the beaches.) So you have to reserve a place…Read More
I just want to make a note here for anyone contemplating a visit to the Cooks. It’s illegal to land in the islands without reservations for a place to stay. (They don’t want 'hippies' camping on the beaches.) So you have to reserve a place to stay before you get on the plane. But making the reservation is something you have to be VERY PATIENT with.
I work in the computer world. If someone doesn’t answer an e-mail from me in a day or two I assume they must be sick on vacation, or mad at me. And I’m used to making travel reservations instantly on the net. But in the Cooks no one has the slightest incentive to answer e-mail or any other kind of mail expeditiously. So they don’t! The first place I chose on the eastern side of the island, a bungalow up on the hillside overlooking the lagoon, didn’t respond. I waited 10 days, assumed the proprietor must be dead, and then sent another note explaining that because I’d never heard anything and because my plane was leaving for Australia in two weeks I was withdrawing my request and sending a note to someone else. The next day I got a note saying they were just getting to my mail. I sent a request to another place and waited 11 days. Then I sent a note that said, "I’m assuming your e-mail system is broken so I’ll send my request again - several times a day - in hopes that one of my messages will eventually land on your server". Faced with the threat of inundation they got back to me right away, the day before I was to leave.
I don’t think of myself as a harried person, in fact just the opposite: relaxed and easy-going - but I sometimes got the impression in the Cooks that the entire population was on drugs. I mean there’s island time and a casual approach to life, and then there’s downright hypnotic somnambulannce. Wait a minute. I should reframe that last remark. I found the people wonderfully polite, considerate, intelligent, capable, well-spoken and affable. I know that, since folks in the Cooks are mostly devout and trying hard to live a good and genuine life, drugs are the last things anyone is on. But if you come from a culture where people talk fast, drive fast, and push themselves hard – as I do - then a vacation in the Cooks might actually drive you insane before you learn to relax. Or maybe we're insane now and the Cooks are a good place to find sanity. I know. Speak for myself.
The people of the Cooks call themselves Cook Island Maoris. Their language is almost identical to that of the Maoris of New Zealand. This is because Rarotonga is believed to be the island from which the New Zealand (Aotearoa) Moaris paddled in the 1300s. Because…Read More
The people of the Cooks call themselves Cook Island Maoris. Their language is almost identical to that of the Maoris of New Zealand. This is because Rarotonga is believed to be the island from which the New Zealand (Aotearoa) Moaris paddled in the 1300s. Because the Cooks are administered by New Zealand now, most Cook Islanders live and work in New Zealand. In fact, out of 60,000 Cook Islanders, only 16,000 live in the islands.
The huge number of expatriates is clearly the result of the land policy in the Cooks. The CI government does not want the archipelago to go the way of Hawaii and New Zealand where the native populations were forced off their own land and where the original inhabitants of the islands are now its poorest citizens. So, the national laws state that property cannot be sold to outsiders. It can be leased, but at the expiration of the lease, the property reverts back to the original owner along with all buildings on it (and it’s illegal to knock down a building on leased land, even if you put it up). So, everyone in the Cooks has a place to live. Property is handed down from generation to generation (and the plots get smaller as the land is divided between children). But the property is worth almost nothing on the open market because no one can sell it. As a result, people on the islands live mostly in simple whitewashed limestone houses. And everyone who can work off-island does so - leaving kids, old folks, and those who can earn a living from local tourists on the islands.
The Cooks are not poor islands. A visit there is not like going to Haiti or Tijuana. But they are not wealthy islands either. It’s not like going to the Caymans or Bermuda. They look like the rural Polynesia that I’ve seen in photographs of Hawaii from 100 years ago. People live simply. They grow food in their backyards and hope for letters from their children at university in Australia or working in New Zealand or Salt Lake. Most people attend church on Sunday, and dress and sing with enthusiasm. Children and young people tend to be quite beautiful – as most Polynesians are. Older folks tend to be chubby because most Polynesians have the thrifty genes that store fat – after generations of living in an environment where fatty foods were almost unavailable. Everyone tends to be relaxed.
The people in the out islands, such as Aitutaki, regard Rarotonga (about 11,000 people) as the roaring metropolis. The people in Rarotonga see New Zealand as the big time. And a lot of New Zealanders see Australia – a country with a population smaller than that of greater New York City - as the big deal. It’s all relative.