Cook Islands Vacations

The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands and coral reefs located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. Their culture is strongly tied to their Polynesian heritage but politically they are aligned with New Zealand. The islands are spread over 800,000 square miles of ocean; making each island a private remote oasis unto itself. The main language is Maori. The major islands are 1) Rarotonga- 20 miles in circumference and was once a volcano 2) Aitutaki which consists 3 volcanic formations along with 12 coral reefs. It is nicknamed "The Blue Lagon". The Cook Islands are for those that are looking a unique experience and way of life not found elsewhere.

Cook Islands Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Cook Islands Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Cook Islands

Cook Islands Geography

Formed by volcanic activity, the Cook Islands lie scattered in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand. Although it is a self-governing island country, the Cook Islands are in a free association with New Zealand. All defence and foreign affairs are left in the hands of New Zealand, although the Cook Islands are moving towards a more independent policy.

The 15 islands of the Cook Islands are divided into the Northern and Southern Cook Islands of coral atolls. The northern group of islands are older and consists of 6 low-lying atolls, while the islands in the south are generally higher. Other islands include Aitutaki, Manihiki, Pukapuka and Mauke. The capital city of the Cook Islands is Avarua, however if you are planning a Cook Islands vacation, Rarotonga is the place to fly into.

Dense vegetation, eroded volcanic peaks and beaches bordered with palm trees make up the interior of the island. This beautiful island has a small population due to its tough terrain and lack of infrastructure. However, Rarotonga features many vacation rentals as tourism is the Cook Islands’ main industry. You can find luxury vacation rentals or more modest ones.


Rarotonga is the largest island and is surrounded by a lagoon, which extends over a hundred meters out to the reef, before sloping steeply into deep water. The part of the lagoon at the south east of the island is most suitable for swimming and engaging in watersports, and this is also where 4 small coral islets can be discovered. Motutapu, Oneroa, Koromiri and Taakoka live within the fringing coral reef.


Aitutaki is the second largest populated island in the Cook Islands and consists of a main island, a lagoon and a surrounding barrier reef. This island is considered to be the Cook Island's jeweled lagoon and is another popular tourist destination, coloured by romantic sunsets and canoe rides out into the secluded coral islets. The lagoon is the most visited landmark here, and it is alive with marine life, including turtles, bonefish and rays.

Cook Islands Culture

Some popular activities in the Cook Islands include watersports such as swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. The warm climate also makes it ideal for bike riding, kite surfing, hiking and heading out for a day on the boat fishing or sightseeing. The Cook Islands is blessed with a tropical climate all year long, with temperatures ranging from 22-27 degrees.

There are many different languages spoken in the Cook Islands, including English, Cook Islands Maori, and Pukapukan. There are a number of different dialects of Cook Islands Maori, which is also known as ‘Rarotongan’. Much like the diversity of the spoken languages, the arts scene in the Cook Islands is traditionally known for its weaving, wood carving and Tivaevae, which is the art of handmade Island scenery patchwork quilts.

Generally speaking, the Cook Islands has a very friendly and relaxed culture. It was first settled by Polynesians who migrated from Tahiti, but it was named after James Cook, the british explorer who first stumbled upon it in 1773. In 1888 the Cook Islands became a British protectorate, but in 1901 it was included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand, and since then, they have shared a formal relationship.

Cook Islands Landmarks

A famous landmark in Avarua, Rarotonga is the Wreck of Matai. The history goes like this: The SS Matai, which was owned by the Union Steam Ship Co., was carrying a load of Model T cars when it was wrecked on the 24th of December, 1916. Now, this area is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. The cargo ship can be seen from the shore, or you can slip into your swimming gear to explore it up close.

Another landmark worth checking out in Avarua is St. Joseph's Catholic Church. This church is the mother church of the Catholic Diocese of Rarotonga, and has jurisdiction over the Cook Islands and its neighboring country Niue. Stained glass windows complete the lovely building. Mass is delivered in both English and Cook Island Maori, so you can pick which language you'd like to interact with.

If you want to interact with the locals, visit the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua. This market is bustling with people and is full of laughter and local delicacies. Ika mata (raw fish marinated in lime and coconut), rukau (steamed taro leaves), poke (banana with arrowroot and coconut), mitiore (fermented coconut with onion and seafood) and firi firi (Tahitian-style doughnuts with chocolate filling) are some of the delicious foods to try. You can also find fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan bread and a coffee fix here. And how about some pork rolls in apple sauce, lemon meringues and homemade ginger lemonade? Yum.