The wonderful Cook Islands are an archipelago in the southern Pacific made of fifteen volcanic islands and a variety of smaller cays. It is a true tropical paradise surrounded by pristine ocean. A former English protectorate, Cook Islands are know joined to New Zealand and remain a true South Polynesian paradise renowned for romantic and authentic holidays. Cook inhabitants are welcoming people, a cosmopolitan mix of westerns influences and ancient Polynesian traditions. You will be welcomed with smiles and a friendly, warm attitude. Like all true Maori, locals love to celebrate their culture in great style, big ceremonies and traditional costumes. Great performers, they are among the best dancers and drummers in Polynesia. Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu are the most visited islands. Other smaller ones despite being true charming places, are less populated and less equipped for tourists.


The main island has many beaches worth a visit: the wonderful Aori Marine Reserve includes the island’s coral reed and offers to visitors a glimpse to the most extraordinary ocean floors; Muri beach is one of the island’s lagoon where many resorts are found and it is considered the island’s most beautiful beach. Water is always warm, and many smaller atolls can be seen over the horizon. You can admire them or reach them by canoe (or glass bottom boat) or by snorkeling – one of the most popular activities on the Cook Islands. Locals have a special relationship with the marina in Avana, north of Muri Beah: it is said that from here the first Maori canoes left towards New Zealand in the XIV century.
A true experience is not complete without a walk among the island’s tropical nature: Te Rua Manga Cliff and the spectacular Wigmore’s Falls are famous spots. Punanga Nui Market is the pace to experience local cuisine and see how locals spend their life. A traditional market hosted every Saturday morning near Rarotonga Wharf in Avarua. Sample fresh fruit and typical dishes freshly prepared by the local mamas of Rarotonga like taro leaves and local tuna sashimi. Punanga Nui Market will not disapprove with its colourful, traditional stalls where you can find any kind of souvenirs, including the precious Polynesian black pearls.


Aitutaki is the second most visited island of the Cook Islands Archipelago, reachable by 1-hour flight from Rarotonga. Crystal waters and twenty-two surrounding islands. Aiutaki lagoon is undoubtedly one of most incredible places in the Cook Islands. The main island’s attraction is Tapuaetai Beach, best known as one Foot Island: white sand beach embraced by crystal clear waters edged by tropical flora nearly touching the water. Although, in Aitutaki water activities are common, with its hilly interior, it is possible to trek around the island or climbing the local Maungapu Mountain. It is a strenuous activity but rewarding with a spectacular view from the top.


Also known as Enaumanu, literaly translating in “land of the birds”, Atiu can be reached by internal flights from Rarotonga. It is a volcanic emerged island: tectonic movements helped in elevating it over 10 meters from sea level and the whole island is surrounded by a typical phenomenon of fossil coral, named makatea. It is the less populated of the big Cook Islands with a population of around 580 people, mainly living in its interior. Abundant are crystal water lagoons and naturalistic excursions. One of them explains why this island is known as “the land of the birds”: through a guided visit of Anatakitaki Cave endemic birds like the kopeka can be seen, a small birds orienting its flight in the darks of the caves by a radio location waves system.


Other islands of the Cook Archipelago are smaller and often they do not have the touristic infrastructure needed. In some cases, upon talking with the local mayor, it is possible to be hosted by local families and stay in their houses. For instance, Palmerston Island has a population of only 50 people, who open their houses to tourists. Important is to respect locals, their traditions and customs especially in more remote locations like the “sisters islands” Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia.


To enter the country travelers must hold a valid passport with at least 6 months left validity from schedule return date and a valid air ticket to leave the country. No visa is necessary and a permit to stay for 31 days is issued upon arrival.
For further information visit the Immigration Department Facebook Page:


Ideal time to visit the Cook Islands is between May and October. Wet season is from November to April, with high rainfalls from December to March. However, here climate seems to go above the traditional seasons offering some good weather even in periods less ideal for tourism. Climate is warm with often sea breezes. Average temperatures go from 25°C in August to 29°C in February, minimum never lower than 18°C. From December to March, the warmest months, heavy rain can be expected with sudden, irregular, strong downpours.


Cook Islands are a quiet, safe country and domestic travels are easy. There are many ways to move around the country.


Local airline Air Rarotonga connects the many islands of the Cook Archipelago using small turbojet aircrafts. The island best connected from Rarotonga is Aitutaki with several flights each day and connections with major international flights. Atiu is reachable only few times a week, smaller islands have lesser flights still, like Manihiki (2/4 times a month) or Penrhyn (only by request).

Visit Air Rarotonga website for further information on fares and times:


Very popular way to move around the bigger islands is by hiring a scooter. Tourists have the obligation to wear a helmet. Any visitor wanting to drive a scooter or motorbike in the Cook Island needs the appropriate driver license. If not, a Cook Islands Driver License must be obtained (Class A for motorbike/scooter or Class AB for cars/bikes and scooters). A theoretical and practical test must be passed at the local police station in Avarua, and a payable tax of NZ $20 plus NZ $10 for theoretical test, NZ $10 for the practical one and NZ $50 for a management & skills test.
International visitors (over 16 years of age) can drive a car while on the islands for a maximum of six months using their foreign country driver license, provided the license is valid. Visitors can only drive vehicle clearly stated on their license, which must be in English or a valid translation provided. Drivers keep left and roads’ illumination can be poor at night. Sometimes cars, scooters or bicycles can be hired directly from your holiday accommodation or from one of the many hiring agencies on the island (in high season it is recommended to pre book your preferred hired transport few days before).
In Rarotonga a public service is available; every hour 2 buses travel through the island, respectably in a clockwise and anti-clockwise way. Transfer from/to the airport are often offered directly by the accommodation provider, sometimes for free.


Official currency in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar. Some local coins are only valid among the archipelago and cannot be exchange back into foreign money (therefore it must be all spent by the end of the holiday). Majority of accommodations accept credit cards but can have up to a 3% surcharge on each transaction. To pay for excursions, groceries and some smaller restaurant cash is preferable. ATM can be found in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, rarely on smaller islands. In the capital Avarua there are banks changing foreign currency. However best not to arrive with only Euros and change some money while transiting through New Zealand.
Western Union has a branch in Avarua and offers money change and transfers.


English is spoken perfectly in the Cook Islands.


Casual dress code by day: shorts, t-shirts, sarong, light cotton clothing ideal to warm and humid climate. Something heavier at nighttime or for the air conditioning. In the evening and in bigger hotels a more formal dress code is appreciated. During winter evenings can be cool and breezy so warmer trousers and sweaters may be needed. You can wear sandals throughout your holiday unless you want to do some trekking of the interior in Rarotonga or Atiu. Therefore, a good pair of trekking shoes are best. It is forbidden to sunbathe topless or walk in swimwear in cities or villages especially during Sundays, religious day. Bring a pair of coral shoes to explore the reef at low tides.


Electricity has a 240 V tension and 50Hz frequency. Plugs are the same used in Australia and New Zealand (type I) with two flat plates at the top inclined 30° and one vertical in the low center. Wall plugs have a switch on/off button. Bring an adaptor with you for all your electrical devices.

Visit Tourism Cook Islands official website for further information:


Paola e Nicola
Paola e Nicola “A dream com true!!!! Discovering this continent made us live some unique experiences and feel indescribable emotions. We spent every day with locals learning their culture and a new lifestyle so different from ours. Australia is and will always be… Read More
Madda e Gigi
Madda e Gigi We thank all the Progetto Australia team. Particularly Paola, knowledgeable, available and friendly person who proved to be patient with every change made to our honeymoon in New Zealand and Cook Islands.  A holiday started in a wonderful country where… Read More
Mauro e Chiara
Mauro e Chiara My wife and I would like to thank Paola and her work partners for planning our trip and assisting us in this incredible country. All our needs were met, and everything was perfect. We recommend using Progetto Australia if you… Read More