The Cook Islands have long been a magnet for adventurous people who have been lured by crystal clear sea, a rich underwater life and the strong Polynesian culture. With long haul travel been mostly halted for 2020, here are just a few reasons to choose this little slice of paradise as your holiday destination for next year.
Stunning, uncrowded Beaches
For that ultimate Insta beach shot and to become the envy of your friends back home, there are few places better than the Cook Islands. Lined with palm trees, framed with bright blue skies and no crowds, the unspoilt white sand beaches provide the most perfect tropical landscape, it’s not surprising some of the beaches in the Cook Islands are regularly voted the most beautiful in the world.
The environment comes first
Over 99 percent of the Cook Islands economic zone consists of water. Here you will find an incredible 1.9 million km² of atolls, volcanic limestone and chalky white sand islands. It is home to 130 different types of coral, 600 fish species and many types of endangered turtles. In addition, endangered reef sharks, whales and dolphins thrive. From July 2017, this oasis was protected under the Marae Moana – the name of the archipelago marine park and the largest initiative taken by a single country to manage and safeguard the conservation of the water’s vulnerable ecosystem.
Back on land, the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification project has been launched to serve as a way for visitors to recognise businesses that are working on protecting the environment so they can choose options that minimise the environmental effect their visit will have. The initiative is the next step in the journey to a fully sustainable tourism industry in the Cook Islands.
Small scale but big memories
A local law stipulates no buildings higher than a coconut tree, so you won’t find any high rises ruining the spectacular views. There are also no chain, mass-market hotels, fast food chains or high street cafes. Your experience here is relaxed, low key and un-rushed, take off your watch when you arrive, you’ll be on ‘island time’, kick off the heels and feel the sand between your toes.
Experience Authentic Polynesia
Cook Islanders are hugely proud of their Polynesian heritage and are keen to share this with visitors. Ancient Cook Islands Polynesian cultures can be experienced in everyday life on the islands and can be explored in a variety of ways; including cultural tours and performances, island nights, or during a Sunday service at one of the beautiful white coral and limestone churches.
If you are looking for the perfect place to honeymoon or even get married, look no further. Impossibly blue lagoons, dazzling white sand beaches fringed by postcard palm trees, the Cook Islands offer couples the perfect romantic escape. The unspoilt natural beauty is a magical setting for celebrating love.
Indulge and pamper yourself with couple’s spa treatments and enjoy exceptional Cook Island cuisine in restaurants offering romantic beachfront dining by candlelight. For the more active couples there are plenty of activities to enjoy together including kayaking, diving, snorkelling, cycling and hiking.
For the ultimate in romantic accommodation choose an overwater villa, a bungalow just steps from the ocean or secluded apartment with private pool. Many of the accommodation offerings in the Cook Islands are adult only, thus ensuring a quiet relaxing stay.
Fun ways to explore the islands
Majestic mountains characterize the archipelago’s largest island – Rarotonga. Inland, however, is relatively flat and easy to explore on two wheels. The Storytellers Eco Cycle Tour guides will take you on an unforgettable journey through sleepy villages and into the jungle where you will learn about the local flora and fauna, traditional medicine as well as hear stories of what it’s like to grow up in a Pacific paradise.
If you prefer to be driven, there are jeep safari tours that offer an exciting half day adventure into the interior of the island, or the adrenalin fuelled, and very muddy, buggy tours. A must do for hikers is the ‘Cross Island’ trek on Rarotonga.
There are a number of different cruising and boating tours that enable you to explore the Cook Islands stunningly expansive, crystal clear waters and picture perfect motus (sand islands). Just below the surface are turtles that paddle peacefully through crystal clear water along with huge trevally fish and giant clams with purple lips.
Arii Moana Walking tour is the newest eco educational tour exploring Rarotonga’s hard coral reefs learning about marine life. This is a guided reef walk taken at low tide with duo Kura Happ, Jacopo Dozzo and their pet pooch, Mahi.
For more information on the Cook Islands go to www.cookislands.travel
How to get there
Once all travel routes are open the Cook Islands can be accessed from the UK via Los Angeles, Dubai/ Auckland, Singapore/ Auckland or Doha/ Auckland
The latest CoronaVirus travel advisory messages are regularly updated onto the website www.cookislands.travel