Cook Islands Travel Guide

Cook Islands – Tours & Adventure Travel Guide

PureTravel Says
“The Cook Islands are one of the greatest treasures of the South Pacific. Though the Polynesians first discovered them, and later Captain James Cook renamed them with admiration, you can still come and explore a nation that is not lost in the tourist boom that other destinations sometimes suffer. Cook Islanders go about their business, somehow unfazed by the tourists who come to use their land as a playground. The invite you to come and enjoy, making this your home away from home.”

Cook Islands Holiday Highlights

Water Sports & Activities - Whether you enjoy salt or fresh water, you’ll find plenty of scuba diving and snorkeling all over the Cook Islands. You may, however, have to leave from one island in order to explore another. There is the Ocean and the many lagoons through the Cook Islands that hold some great underwater treasures. Some of the best diving happens right from Rarotonga, with water visibility often over 30 meters, with caves, canyons, reefs, coral and aquatic life being the norm. More specifically, some of the most famous diving is the Matavera Drop-off, the Koromiri Coral Garden, the Mataora Wreck, the Papua Canyon and the Ngatangiia swim-throughs.

Trekking - If you happen to be roaming about in the South Pacific on your next holiday, you may be surprised to know that the Cook Islands offer some great out-of-the-way getaways. If you fly here, then most likely you’ll fly into Rarotonga, a great place to start and end any hike. There is everything you could think of on this island, everything except wild animals and poisonous snakes, not too many countries where this is possible. You can climb up the back of mountains or take a scoot around the capital city. You can follow old roads, footpaths and courses made of dirt between the valleys. A guide can take you to the secret gems, too. From the Te Rua Manga (massif), to the Takituma rainforest Reserve, to the crown of Maugnapu Mountain to the other islands, such as Atiu, to Mangaia, Mauke and Palmerston, beaches, backroads and rarely seen villages await you.

Mountain Biking - If you’re in the area, perhaps on your own or a chartered sailboat, then you’ll be glad that you brought a mountain bike to ride in the Cook Islands. Still undiscovered, several of the Cook Islands on the northern and southern chain give way to some excellent valley roads and coastal routes, most with not a car in sight. If you’re in the Rarotonga region of the Cook Islands, then it will be easy to fly or catch a ferry to the other islands in the Lower Cook Island chain. If you like to try your luck and you come during the dryer season, then you’ll find plenty of pleasant scenery on Aitutaki, Mangaia, Palmerstond Island, and Manuae. It is possible to bike on other islands, but Rarotonga may be the best as far as infrastructure goes. Be sure to talk with your tour operator to get the best places lined out before you venture off on two wheels.

Fishing - If you’re into fishing, then the Cook Islands may give you a cast and catch challenge. You can take chartered trips into uncharted waters for half or full-day trips. If you’d like to see flying fish being caught, you can do so at night in canoes. If you’d like to do your own fly or bait or lure fishing, then there is a nice size lagoon on Aitutaki, where several world record fish have been caught. The lagoon is about 50 square kilometers, and you’ll have no problem seeing through the crystal clear water as you pull up catch after catch.

Whale Watching - Whale watching in the Cook Islands is a real magical treat. If you can make it for the July to October humpback season, you can watch the monsters of the sea from the boat and you can also snorkel with them as they swim. Humpbacks are huge creatures and should only be viewed from a distance. Swimming with them will show you their raw power and gracefulness in the water, proving to you that they are well taken care of on the endangered species list.

When To Go

The Cook Islands cover so much area, bigger than India in fact, that the weather can vary from island to island. Most of the time, all the islands are hot and can rain from time to time at any time of the year. The trade winds that come through do provide some relief. Some of the islands are very wet while others are very dry. The coldest time of year is June until August. November to March is the hottest, most humid and has a lot of rain.

Top Tips

  • If you are a night owl, be sure to tell others where you’re going and try to stay in a group. You should have no problems, as the islanders are very tranquil people.
  • The weather can be hot, humid and rainy—and all three at once. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring any clothing that can keep the elements off of you.

Classic Itineraries

  • Diving (Matavera Drop-off & the Koromiri Coral Garden)
  • Takituma rainforest Reserve
  • Whale Watching
  • Aitutaki Lagoon


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