Kia Orana (Hello)

In 2016, the Cook Islands Tourist Corporation invited me to visit their beautiful islands.  The invitation was specifically to educate me as their Alaskan travel agent connection.  What an opportunity; I didn’t know what a fabulous experience was awaiting me.  This was a business trip I couldn’t turn down.

With only one flight a week from the United States to Rarotonga, I was treated to Air New Zealand – a wonderful airline with friendly flight attendants & great food.  It was a special experience to sleep on the plane and awaken in paradise!

International Customs were the nicest, I’ve experienced ever.  It was a clue to how perfect my island experience was going to play out.  

Rarotonga is the gateway to these islands with many accommodations styles to suit all types of travelers and budgets.  It’s easy to get into island life immediately, but I recommend on your first or second day, you try one of several island dinners shows to learn about the local history and culture.  

Getting around is easy.  A local bus has hop on hop off service, while there is one bus going one way around the island, another runs the opposite direction.  Tours can be via Raro buggy, bike or open passenger jeep.  Scooter rentals are very popular.

If you are a fan of water sports, the opportunities are many.  Starting Saturday afternoon and through Sunday you may notice many businesses close early; it’s tradition for the Islanders to spend time enjoying their families and going to church.

You’ve traveled all the way to the South Pacific, so island hopping is a must!  And it’s like traveling in the old days.  Checking in, you hand over your luggage and are handed a slip of paper with your name and seat number.  When it’s time to board, you walk across the tarmac and climb the stairs; 45 minutes later, you’ve arrived in another paradise.

Aitutaki is so beautiful, no words can describe the beautiful views from the plane and they all await you.  Vast Lagoons of beautiful clear (really clear) blue water are ready for your exploration.  The true quiet and night darkness of this island is mind relaxing.

Accommodations range from a rustic cabin to small luxury hotels.  A tour of the blue lagoon is a must for all visitors.  The sport of bone fishing is a must for anglers. Day tours are available from Rarotonga to Aitutaki, but I highly recommend multiple nights to reconnect with yourself and nature.  

Atui is an island with an estimate of 400 inhabitants offers visitors some unusual experiences.  The Anatakitaki cave is considered a national treasure.  It has 3 caverns; one is home to the unique Kopeka - a tiny swiftlet bird that navigates in pitch black.  It’s worth a tour with Birdman George who has an excellent knowledge of bird life and vegetation on this island.  Experience a Tamunu, a tasting of traditional home brew or go for the coffee.  Planning ahead is a good idea for Atui as accommodations are limited to B&B’s or the Atui Villas which are individual chalet style buildings.

Not all islands are open to visitors.  I feel lucky to have visited 3 out of the 15 islands. The Cooks will be attractive to those who enjoy beautiful views, want a safe retreat to relax on the beach or be active.  It’s easy to be spur of the moment.  Just a few days feels longer for the peace it gives back to you.  A truly complete restorative vacation.  

If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, Tahiti or Australia give me a call, let’s see if we can work in a stopover in the Cook Islands.  The atmosphere is comparable to the way Hawaii was 50 or more years ago.  My lasting thoughts as I write this review of my time in the Cooks is how much more relaxing this business trip was than my last leisure vacation.

Meitaki (Thank you) Cook Islands

Diane Munson, CTC


Diane Munson has worked at ABC Travel Time for more than 30 years.  Her expertise is international travel.  You dream it and she will create it.



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