Welcome to the castaway’s dream. Amid the most stunning of the Polynesian Islands, the 15 islands that make up the archipelago lie between Samoa and French Polynesia. With glowing turquoise lagoons, astounding palm-fringed beaches, coupled with volcanic peaks, you will recall the Tahiti’s theatrical beauty, but at an affordable price. All in all, the Cook Islands pose a warm welcome to its visitors with Polynesian hospitability and many adventure activities.
Two islands, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, are the main tourist magnets. However, other remote islands are also appealing for angling, snorkeling and other adventure activities. Rarotonga’s friendly capital, Avarua, is the main cultural and commercial center on the island—the main starting point for you to explore the Cook Islands.
Around the opulent peaks of the interior, there’s a coastal plain harboring coconut palms, bananas, coffee plants, and papayas. Coral reefs encircle the inland, encompassing a small lagoon that presents excellent snorkeling and swimming opportunities.
Beachcombing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, swimming, and snorkeling are among the most famous things to do in almost all the Cook Islands. As fast as you lay your eyes on these islands, you will realize why they top the list of the most attractive islands around the globe. Here are the top 5 places to visit in Cook Islands.
Dotted with 21 petite palm-fringed islets and its stunning lagoon, Aitutaki takes the second place of the most visited islands in the world. Kayaking is the greatest way that you can explore the small islets. In the southwest corner of the lagoon, there’s a small inland of Maina that presents outstanding snorkeling opportunities and is home to a very lovely sandbar that is known as Honeymoon Island. This lagoon is known for bone-fishing with local guides for hire also on standby. But if you want to spend your time right on the lagoon, you can always book accommodation at the over-the-water bungalows right above the crystal-clear water—the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa.
One Foot Island—Tapuaetai
Surrounded by gently warped coconut palms, the attractive Tapuaetai, or One Foot Island as it is popularly known is the most visited among the Aitutaki’s motu. The stunningly beautiful island is worthy of your wildest tropical fantasies. If you are a beach lover, you can bask on the stunning white sand, snorkel, and wade in the turquoise lagoon. Actually, you can walk around the whole island in about 30 minutes. This island is also a popular spot for weddings, but as you meander around, be on the lookout as you may step on hermit crabs that scuttle along the shore.
On the southeast of Rarotonga lies the Muri Beach. This is one of the most picturesque beaches of the Cook Islands. Even though the quality of water has deteriorated over recent times, the shallows stretch into the dreamy aquamarine shades presenting a solid opportunity for the snorkelers to see the many species of tropical fish. You will also find a plethora of marine life amid the bush of coral heads. After a long day of hungry beachcombing, the Muri beach resorts will present to you many dining options.
Te Rua Manga Cross-Island Hike
The cross-island hiking track is the best way to explore the Cook Islands and more specifically, the lush scenery of Rarotonga. The trajectory stretches from the north coast to the unique pinnacle rock, then to the south coast through Wigmore’s waterfall. With a large pool at the base, these falls are excessively beautiful especially after a heavy rain, but the chutes slow to trickles in the dry season.
This perplexing hike will take you about five hours leading through dense forest, climbing to the peak of Te Rua Manga—a bald and steep rock that goes straight up into the air. From the top of this stunning rock, you can enjoy the beautiful sceneries over the surrounding forest and the coast. Remember, climbing this rock is only for the prepared and serious climbers.
Standing at 124 meters, Mount Maungapu is the highest point on Aitutaki giving you the best chance to explore the Cook Islands as a whole. A short 20 minutes’ hike to the peak presents spectacular views over the lush and lagoon, palm-studded landscape. Before climbing, make sure you come with a camera, plenty of water, and insect repellent.
Ready for A Visit?
There you have it all—the top 5 things places to visit in Cook Islands. Of course, there are plenty more adventure activities to see and do including lots of water sports in this dazzling South Pacific Island.