Located in the South Pacific, halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, the Cook Islands truly are one of the world’s great honeymoon (and holiday) secrets.
Splash around the islands’ azure waters and sparkling lagoons while breathing in the fresh, oh-so-warm air and the magic of this idyllic spot will wash over you, leaving you with lifelong memories.
Rarotonga is the main island – and you can drive around in about 45 minutes. The entire island has grown around a giant, now dormant volcano and Raratonga truly feels like one huge – and very friendly – resort where you can do everything from hiking and water driving to eco cycle or, even, attend a flower show, a music festival or a tour of the island’s caves.
Located south of the equator, the weather is just the opposite of Europe and North America. The weather in Rarotonga is regulated by the soothing tropical tradewinds.
The winter months are May through to October with the temperature averaging about 25°C. Winter is considered the dry season as it’s a bit cooler than the summer months with lower humidity. Yes, Winter is 25°C.
Summer falls between the months of November through to April, and the temperature averages about 29°C. This is considered the rainy season with, typically, a few light afternoon showers. Cyclone season falls during these months, too, but the island tends only to suffer a big cyclone once every five years or so.
Te Vara Nui Cultural Village – The tour and show include demonstrations of costume making and carving, dancing, songs and legends along with a lovely dinner.
Going Loco – Take a short train ride with Rarotonga Steam Railway – tea will be served!
Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruize – A glass bottom boat will take you to a private islet where a BBQ lunch is included.
Wet & Wild – Try a water taxi, snorkeling, and boat charters. With any of these activities, you’ll create an awesome Honeymoon memory.
Raro Safari – Driving a 4WD, the tour takes you up to the mountains through the back roads.
For a romantic honeymoon dinner, you can’t beat the Waterline Restaurant and Beach Bar. Your dining experience includes a table near the water – and you can wiggle your feet in the sand. They do intimacy well!
Foods to try:
Ika mata, which is raw fish with chopped veggies and coconut milk
Umu food is any food cooked in a traditional clay oven
Curried ekeis a delectable coconut curry made with octopus
Rukau is taro leaves cooked in creamy coconut
Poke is a banana, pawpaw, and coconut pudding
Tuna and swordfish are excellent here and are caught daily
A taste of delicious local beer including tipples from Matutu and the Cook Island Brewery.
Take a bus from the Cook Corner bus stop in Avarua. The bus traveling the island clockwise departs every hour from 7 am to 4 pm. The bus is traveling counter-clockwise, departs 25 minutes after the hour. The buses are on time and fairly cheap.
The Cook Islands Taxi Association runs the green taxis. There’s a set fee per kilometer. Most hotel offer mopeds for a rental fee. Remember – driving is on the left side.
There aren’t any scheduled ferries or boats to the surrounding islands. However, there are several tours to choose from, or you can charter a boat.
Black pearls are absolutely magnificent and can be purchased at acceptable prices. Also, “real” Cooks carved shells are stunning, and you’ll be able to see the difference.
Blossom Fashion & Accessories – international designer fashions with appropriate accessories.
Mareko’s Island Creations – Inspired by the South Pacific’s beauty is their creation of island wear.
Goldmine – foremost jewelry store specializing in the black pearl.
Traveler’s insurance is always important to have, especially when you are traveling abroad. If you want your Honeymoon to be stress-free, purchase a policy for yourselves.
An insurance policy will cover trip cancelation, illness, theft, loss, accident, medical, and is highly recommended. Check to see if ambulance and emergency evacuation is covered as it is important for these to be included.
If you will be scuba diving, motorcycling, moped riding, skiing, parasailing, or hiking during your stay, get a waiver added to cover these activities. If you pay for your trip with your credit card, their coverage is very limited.
The Cook Islands unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NA), and the exchange rate is best at the banks. There are a few ATMs on Rarotonga, two on Aitutaki Island, and none on the other islands. Please note, all ATMs have a service charge for each use – NZ$6.50, UK£3.30, US$5.34, AUS$5.83, and 3.95 Euros.
Traveler’s checks do give you a better rate of exchange, but it must be done at the bank. They are probably the best to carry for exchanging into NZ dollars.
Credit cards are accepted in Rarotonga and Aitutaki but not on other islands.
You will need light clothing – plenty of T-shirts, sandals, shorts, and bathing suits. Bring something a little dressier such as a light dress shirt with slacks and a summer dress with a pretty pair of sandals.
Bring sunscreen, after sun lotion, mosquito repellant, baggies, hand wipes, sunglasses, hats, extra pair of glasses if you wear them, small backpack to use for tours and shopping, camera with extra batteries and memory cards, toiletries, and maybe a cork screw!
The Cook Islands voltage is 240v, so you might need a three-prong adapter. Please be advised, beachwear is not appropriate in town.
Since it’s not typical to tip in the Cook Islands, tipping is an exception and not normal procedure. A kind word is appreciated as much as a tip. The local people do not rely on tips.
You can tip at a restaurant if you are very pleased with the food or service. Note – There is a 12.5% VAT added at the better restaurants. The same goes for spa treatments and tour guides.
Some people want to tip the hotel, staff. It’s not against the law to tip, however, it should be done quietly and given directly to the person.