10 things I wish I knew before going to Cook Islands

Tural Abbasov 21 September 2020 0 views 5 min. read

There is a very high chance that we all heard the name "James Cook" in our history or geography classes. But what is the reason behind his worldwide reputation? Taking it extremely short, we can indicate that he was the first person who had finally succeeded to have the first European contact to the eastern part of Australia and New Zealand. And today we will be talking about the group of islands that still are paying tribute to this great traveller of his time, whose expeditions had a significant effect not only on the political situation of the world but as well as on science, geography and economy. Yes, you got it right; this time, our destination is the Cook Islands. But where are the Cook Islands, and what do we know about Cook Island? The Islands have, basically, a self-governing representative government; however, they are in free association with New Zealand. And when it comes to the location of Cook Islands, they are mainly situated in Polynesia, in the mid-south part of the Pacific Ocean, to be more precise, just between French Polynesia to the east and Tonga to the west. One of the most interesting facts about Cook Islands is that it's fifteen small atolls and islands have a combined land area equal to the size of an average western city, but the region that the islands occupy literally stretches over about 2,000,000 square km of sea. Also, surprisingly enough, Niue, the islands' most western point, is an administratively separate territory. Now that we have basic information about the Cook Islands, it is about time we pack our staff and get ready for our trip; however, before we do that let us run through 10 things I wish I knew before my travel to Cook Islands.

1. Best time to travel to Cook Islands

Cook  Islands

The question of "When is the best time to travel to Cook Islands?" is one of the most common questions asked by potential visitors. The climate is tropical, with trade winds moderating around the island almost all the time. Rarotonga, which is the largest of the Cook Islands, has average annual temperatures of about 25 ° C in winter and 29 ° C in summer, and temperatures are several degrees higher on the islands located a bit to the north. Rainfall happens mainly in summertime, generally in the form of afternoon storms. Cyclone season is November through March, but the islands are only struck about every five years or so by a major one. However, it worth reminding you that as the islands are located in the Southern Hemisphere when it is winter in the USA or Europe, that means Australia or Cook Islands, in this case, are going through their "winter period". So, when is the best time to travel to Cook Islands? To be completely honest with you, it is always just the best time to travel to Cook Islands as islands will welcome you with a warm and sunny climate all year round. Even though, do not forget that June to August is slightly cooler months.

2. The beauty of Aitutaki Lagoon

Aitutaki Lagoon

By being one of the best things about the Cook Islands, the main draw of Aitutaki is the grand picturesque lagoon with transparent blue water that will surely, take your breath away. There are twenty-one tiny islands that surround the lagoon's outermost side. In order to get close to them, you should take a ship trip; however, kayaking is also an option. Plus, it is more eco-friendly, and I personally believe that in that way, you will get to experience more of these beautiful islands. Another positive side of the place is that it has succeeded to escape mass tourism until now.

3. Aroa Marine Reserve

Aroa Marine Reserve

The Aroa Lagoon is the home of the Aroa Marine Reserve off the sandy white Aroa Beach in the South Pacific Cook Islands. The ice blue waters of the reserve are great for snorkelling, protected by the outlying reef on the west coast of Rarotonga. Parrotfish, Moorish idol, wrasse, and angelfish are only some of the species that snorkelers might find here. We would not be lying if we said that this reserve is one of the best snorkelling spots in the country. So, if you want to experience the real beauty of the islands, make sure you visit the marine reserve during your time in Cook Islands.

4. Language of the Cook Islands

Cook Islands Child

Sincerely, I was shocked when I have learnt that the Cook Islands, apparently, had five living languages, including the two official languages English and Maori language, however specific to the Cook Islands' region of the Pacific Ocean. However, the exceptions do not bend the rules. For example, on the isolated island of Pukapukan, in the northern region, the islanders have their own special language called Pukapukan, of which there is no written edition. And shocking enough, some Cook Islanders are not even able to understand any of it. I think this one stands on top of interesting facts about Cook Islands. But English is spoken even there, as it is widely taught at schools and speaking English is crucial when it comes to the development of tourism.

5. Maire Nui Gardens

Maire Nui gardens

Also, during your time in Cook Islands, do not forget to visit Maire Nui Gardens. Which is located just a quick walk from Titikaveka Beach? The lovely organic Maire Nui Gardens a different experience for visitors who got tired of all the sunbathing and swimming in the purest waters of the islands. Flooded with tropical flowers, this seven-acre property is a spectacular spot for a hike too, so if you love spending some quality time with your family and friends, you know where you should be heading to. Just a perfect to rest and hang out.

6. Titikaveka Beach

titikaveka beach

On Rarotonga's southwestern coast, there is a very nice beach called and lagoon. Among both tourists and visitors, it is known as one of the best swimming and snorkelling areas on the whole island. Divers might encounter lots of aquatic activities to try out, including observation of the lagoon, which is being dotted with blue stars at night. Except that, if you are looking for more active leisure time, there are kayaking opportunities in Titikaveka Beach, as well.

7. Ring road

The ring road in Cook Islands

We are heading to another interesting fact about Cook Islands. The whole island is surrounded by one main lane, making it extremely comfortable and less time-consuming to travel around and explore Rarotonga with a minimal budget. All you need to take care of is just to get a car which you can accomplish in the nearest car rental office. The paved road, which is as long as 32 km, basically circles all the way across the coastline of the Cook Islands and also, it worth mentioning that if you want to travel to suburbans, this road is just made for you as it passes through several of the main Cook Islands villages.

8. Cook Islands capital - Avarua

Avarua city

Rarotonga is the largest among the islands that make up the Cooks, and the capital of the Cook Islands, Avarua, which is the major commercial and administrative centre of the country, is located in Rarotonga, too. Locals clearly call Cook Islands capital just as a "city". Avarua District has a population of 4,906. So, during your travel to Cook Islands, make sure you do not skip the capital and get the full experience from your trip!

9. Mount Maungapu

Mount Maungapu

There is only one hike you can do on Aitutaki Island, but it is a winner and one of the most interesting things about Cook Islands, you can't skip. Mount Maungapu is the highest point on Aitutaki at an altitude of 124 metres. It is just 20 minutes to climb up to the top of Mount Maungapu, and it's worth it for the picturesque panoramic views you will get from the viewpoint. The trailhead is marked with a sign on the road opposite Paradise Cove, and the route is marked on the island's free maps. The town of Aitutaki is mainly known for its beautiful blue lagoon that looks just fantastic from a beach or even a ship, but from the bird's perspective, it might be even better, if that is even possible.

10. Watching whales

Watching whales in Cook Islands

If you want to do some whale-watching while you are in the Cook Islands, you might consider travelling in winter as every winter, hundreds of whales sail the Pacific Ocean in search of warmer waters to breed, and this is the exact time when tourists can see them in all the beauty. To be completely honest with you, Tonga is considered the best location to see these magnificent creatures, and the thriving tourism industry has grown around it, but the Cook Islands is one of the best places to see them in the South Pacific as well.

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