The Cook Islands: A Forgotten Treasure

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The Cook Islands: A Forgotten Treasure

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands of pure unadulterated tropical paradise.


The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands of pure unadulterated tropical paradise. Located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, the Cook Islands; geography creates an ideal combination of balmy weather, crystal clear aquamarine waters, and brilliant sunshine. Scattered across 2.2 million square kilometers of one of the world’s most serene oceans, the Cook Islands offer a plethora of outdoor activities and adventures to fit the tastes of any visitor.

Getting Around the Cook Islands

Because the islands are generally fairly small, transportation is usually uncomplicated. Tourists can easily get around by foot or bicycle but if they prefer something a bit faster, there are plenty of opportunities for motorized transportation rentals as well. Places like Adventure Cook Islands offer affordable and accessible transportation rentals. The most popular method of getting around the island is by motorized scooter. Adventure Cook Islands has a full supply of 125cc two-seater scooters. And not to worry: they’re fully automatic! Renters must obtain a motor scooter license and the company can offer the safety test and issue a temporary license.

Mountain bikes are another popular method of exploring the islands. Offered are a full range of mountain and comfort bikes with a variety of gears and features. Accessories like children’s seats, shopping baskets, and gel seats are available at the renter’s request. And don’t forget exploration doesn’t have to take place on land! A quiet lagoon surrounding Rarotonga creates the perfect kayaking conditions for kayakers of all skill levels. Adventure Cook Island’s assortment of single and double kayaks means families of all sizes can enjoy this activity together. Hourly, daily, and weekly rates accommodate travelers’ schedules and if a kayak is rented for more than two days, the company will personally deliver the kayak(s) anywhere on the island.

Explore on Land

Visitors shouldn’t let the lure of the rhythmic ocean keep them from seeing the inland beauty that are the Cook Islands. The Anatakitaki Kopeka Bird Caves are accessible by a challenging hike through humid and untouched rain forests with an experienced guide. The caves are home to a native bird called the Kopeka bird, which nest deep inside the geologically unique caverns. Statuesque stalagmites and dripping stalactites create a geologic wonderland and at the end of the tour, visitors can take a refreshing dip in the cave’s water pool lit by candlelight.

The Rima Rau (which translates to ” one thousand dead”) burial cave is filled with the bones of the long dead. After a moderate hike through the pristine rain forest, hikers shimmy down a vine through the opening of a massive tree trunk and drop into darkness. Unlike most touristy caves, this cave has no lighting; visitors must use their headlights and quickly adjusting vision to make their way through the dark. Scattered on the ground are skeletal fragments and guides warn guests where to step to avoid crushing the remains. Tours last three to four hours and guides are sure to deliver a fascinating history of the Rima Rau caverns.

On the Water

There’s no doubt the waters surrounding the Cook Islands are its crowning jewel and the foundation of most of the activities. And what better way to experience the ocean than scuba diving? Aitutaki is the most popular place to go scuba diving in the islands and experience the unique geographic intricacies found in these waters. Heart-racing drop offs, spooky caves, and steep ledges are just a few of the sights seen in the warm clear waters and guided tours are suited for both new scuba divers to the very experienced. Frequent sightings of various marine life when touring the Marine Reserve of Aroa Beach cap off this experience and is sure to be one of the most memorable adventures tourists will have here.

Lagoon cruises are a popular tourist pastime as well. Glass bottomed boats allow an up-close experience to the reefs and marine life that are in abundance in the Islands. These tours are perfect for those who want to see the ocean but aren’t quite comfortable or able to do diving tours. Tour guides offer stops for those who want to dip their toes into the water and possibly do some snorkeling in the marine reserve. Other tours offer lunches or dinners with authentic and delicious local food.


Tourists need a rest from all of the adventure at some point and there are plenty of ways to relax once they’ve washed the sand from their feet. Dining experiences are one of a kind here, offering the freshest seafood one could possibly find and cooked in a variety of ways, from traditional grilled fish to elaborate local cuisine. Local boutiques are home to locally made goodies or international knick knacks so people can find a small gift to take home to anyone on their “don’t forget a souvenir for me!” list.

And with the resorts scattered all over the islands, there is no shortage of spas for those who want some relaxation on their vacation. Experienced masseurs, highly trained estheticians, and accommodating staff create some of the best spa experiences guests will ever experience.

Marie Edwards is a seasoned travel writer and specializes in writing about destinations in the South Pacific.