The Cook Islands consist of 15 beautiful islands dotted in the South Pacific Ocean. The beaches feature white sand and clear blue water, as well as wonderful nature and people. Entertainment on the islands includes a wide array or restaurants, resorts, water sports and snorkeling. Rarotonga is the capital island which features amazing mountainous surroundings and coral reefs to explore. Another great island to visit is Aitutaki, which is home to a lagoon full of impressive marine wildlife – and this is only 50 minutes away from Rarotonga.
Because of the mountainous environment and stunning scenery, backpacking is a great way to explore the island of Rarotonga. The island can be cycled around in one day – a total of 26 miles – and bikes can be hired, as well as scooters or mopeds. There is a bus that makes a full run around the island every 45 minutes, so there is no need to worry about public transport.
There is a variety of affordable accommodation for those looking for a backpacking holiday: for example, Anzcro offers accommodation in Rarotonga and Aitutaki. It is not permitted for anyone to camp on the islands, so booking accommodation is important.
For those who enjoy hiking, there is a path that crosses from one side of Rarotonga right through to the other, where you will find yourself at Te Rua Manga (The Needle), Rarotonga’s most dramatic peak. The incredible view of the island from this point is well worth seeing. If you are staying in or visiting Aitutaki, there is also a great hiking path there which takes you up Mount Maungapu, again revealing beautiful views of the island and its lagoon. It is advisable for you to be in good health and fairly fit if choosing to hike on the islands as the climbs can be quite steep and sometimes slippery. However, the experience and the views make it well worth the effort.
If you’d like to take in a bit of the culture, there are often traditional dance performances which can be seen, as dance is a vital part of Cook Islands culture. There are also tours around the islands that will teach you of its history, show how to weave handicrafts, display coconut husking and give information on the traditional medicine of the islands. There is one particular culture show titled ‘Drums of Our Forefathers’, which gives education on the island and its people, entertains with music and dance, and comes with a buffet meal.
The island of Aitutaki offers cruises around its lagoon and some of the surrounding uninhabited islands. The local guides will teach you about the area and there are opportunities to snorkel. The water’s currents are very calm are suited for beginner divers if taking a look at the stunning coral reefs interests you.
Lastly, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen as the sun is quite intense, more so than in other parts of the world.