Why You Should Visit The Cook Islands This Year

cook islands travel

You guys all know I’m not one for all-inclusive holidays to the Caribbeans. I dislike mass tourism (although I do think proper vacations are sometimes necessary), and I would much rather do things my way than mold myself to a rigid travel model – which is why I so often end up travelling independently around Europe.

But that was before. Before I visited the Cook Islands. An exotic, remote archipelago that absolutely blew me away.

One of my clients sent me there on assignment last month and I was immediately intrigued by the destination – and, not to mention, absolutely clueless about its location. Before you ask, let me tell you where exactly the Cook Islands are. Don’t feel like you’re alone in blissful ignorance; I had no idea they even existed so don’t be ashamed by this slight gap in your geography knowledge. The Cook Islands are located in the South Pacific, roughly 4000 kilometres south of Hawaii, and 2500 kilometres northeast of New Zealand (see map at the bottom of this post for an aerial view – they’re kind of hard to find if you don’t know where to look).

Why do I think you should visit the Cook Islands in 2016? Because it’s the hottest destination no ones knows about, and because it’s going to rock your socks.

Why you should visit the Cook Islands in 2016

It’s affordable.

cook islands travel

Hold your horses, people! By affordable, I don’t mean cheap – there’s a significant and rather costly difference between those two words.

The Cooks are not the kind of place where you can just wing it and hope for the best, i.e. a $20 dorm bed. What I mean by affordable is that it’s the least expensive destination in the South Pacific, much more reasonably-priced than Fiji and French Polynesia (where hotel rooms rarely go under the $800 price point and where tipping costs a fortune).

The cost of living in the Cooks is rather high (especially when it comes to telecoms and food – $10 per 100mo! $20 cocktails everywhere!) and, of course, that is reflected in accommodation prices. However, it remains an affordable gateway to the South Pacific, as opposed to the typical remortage-your-house-and-sell-your-first-born nearby islands.

It’s unspoiled.

cook islands travel

You’re familiar with the Carribean cliché, where sky-high hotels line up along the beach and where tens of thousands of North Americans flock to drink ungodly quantities of cheap beer, yes? Well, it’s nothing like that in the Cook Islands.

Thank God.

First off, the local government has made it very clear that it’s forbidden to build a structure higher than palm trees, a law that certainly contributed to preserving the island’s luxuriant wilderness looks despite the presence of dozens of hotels and restaurants.

And because the Cook Islands remain a relatively underrated destination (except maybe with Kiwis and Aussies), beaches are not only stunning but also, and perhaps most importantly, virtually empty aside from hermit crabs and friendly stray dogs. No need to run to the beach first thing in the morning to reserve your beach lounger.

It’s GORGEOUS.

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The Cook Islands are pretty much what dreams are made of. Only they’re better, because they’re real. These islands are exactly what I, an Eastern Canadian girl that had never been to the southern hemisphere, pictured a South Pacific island to be like:

  • Lush mountainous forests? Check.
  • Towering palm trees? Check.
  • Crystal clear waters? Check.
  • Local women decked in flowy dresses and floral crowns? Check.
  • Colourful fishes? Check.

To put it metaphorically, the Cook Islands are kind of like that girl you’d kind of want to hate because she’s so effortlessly pretty and fresh-faced even without make-up on but she’s also super sweet so you can’t really hold anything against her.

It’s welcoming and friendly.

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I have rarely felt so welcome as a tourist as I did in the Cook Islands. Within ten minutes of leaving the airport’s customs I had already made new friends and had been given a traditional flower wreath.

In fact, several people stopped on the side of the road and asked me if I had engine troubles when they saw me standing next to my scooter… when, actually, I was just busy taking pictures! That’s just the Cooks way.

It’s easy to get to.

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Contrary to many remote islands where you have to board four different propeller planes to get to (and, therefore, survive four minor heart attacks if you’re anything like me), Rarotonga is serviced by a weekly flight from LAX with Air New Zealand – meaning that it’s not at all a hassle to get to. It’s hard to believe such a small island is home to an international airport, but it is!


If you’re not convinced by now that you need to visit the Cook Islands in 2016, then you are either a grinch or an illiterate. I think the sooner you visit this slice of paradise the better – I suspect it’s not going to be the South Pacific’s best kept secret for much longer.

I visited the Cook Islands as a guest of Cook Islands Travel on a press trip for a travel trade magazine I write for. All opinions are my own.
 

16 Comments on Why You Should Visit The Cook Islands This Year

  1. Amanda
    January 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm (2 years ago)

    The Cook Islands are DEFINITELY on my list – especially after seeing all your amazing photos! Not sure that I’ll make it there in 2016, but a girl can dream!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 8, 2016 at 1:52 pm (2 years ago)

      If you loved Tahiti (and if I remember correctly, you did!) you will LOVE the Cooks!

      Reply
  2. Jennifer
    January 8, 2016 at 3:28 pm (2 years ago)

    AMAZE-BALLS! Ok, I gotta go!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, you must!

      Reply
  3. Marc
    January 9, 2016 at 12:16 am (2 years ago)

    Beautiful pictures and great post. I’ve been there two years ago and it was simply unbelievable and I agree with you that it’s affordable.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Marc! The Cook Islands were such a great surprise for me.

      Reply
  4. Rashaad @ Green Global Travel
    January 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm (2 years ago)

    Those are some lovely photos! It’s even more wonderful that it’s an affordable destination so hopefully more travelers will be able to be wowed by its charm. The forests look luscious.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Rashaad! It was naturally beautiful, very easy to photograph!

      Reply
  5. Martin
    January 19, 2016 at 4:50 am (2 years ago)

    While most tourists only venture to Rarotonga and Aitutaki try the other outer islands.
    Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro are still close and serviced by regular air service and each offers a unique experience

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm (2 years ago)

      I know! I’ve been wanting to go to Mangaia but I didn’t have enough time. So many islands, so little time!

      Reply
  6. nette campbell
    January 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm (2 years ago)

    Now that you’ve been to the Cooks, you’ll find yourself turning your nose up at everywhere else. It happens!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm (2 years ago)

      Is that what this is? I should retire straight away then! ;-)

      Reply
  7. Jodi
    July 6, 2016 at 3:19 pm (1 year ago)

    Looks amazing and now I am even more excited about my trip there in September/ October 2016. Only a short 2 months away! Thanks for sharing you travel photos!!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      July 13, 2016 at 11:32 am (1 year ago)

      Enjoy your trip, it’s such a wonderful place!

      Reply
  8. Loren
    November 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm (8 months ago)

    Such a beautiful adventure!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 1, 2016 at 10:40 am (8 months ago)

      It really was! Thanks Loren.

      Reply

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