The Cook Islands are a series of 15 different islands that are dotted within the 2.2 million square kilometres of the South Pacifica between New Zealand and Hawaii. Featuring a warm climate, dazzling blue lagoons and friendly inhabitants, it’s no wonder that the Cook Islands are a popular tourist destination. Here we look at what just a few of the islands have to offer.
Rarotonga is one of the youngest islands in the southern group of the Cook Islands and is also the capital. The landscape on Rarotonga features planted terraces packed with banana trees, coconut trees and paw paw whilst a swampy plateau provides the perfect growing conditions for taro. Truly a tropical island, there is also a white sandy shoreline with aquamarine waters, coral reefs and an abundance of brightly coloured tropical fish. With plenty of opportunity to enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and generally hanging out on the beach, Rarotonga also offers trekking to explore the inner island and offers a range of restaurants and bars, offering both traditional and international foods.
Also located in the southern group of the Cook Islands is Atiu which is a volcanic mass that has risen out of the sea. The inner part of the island features lush tropical rainforest which is home to a plethora of beautiful birds including the Tavake and the Great Frigate, whilst the outer rim of the island features hidden sandy coves.
One of the smaller of the southern islands, Mitiaro is also the flattest. Once a volcano that sank to become a coral reef, Mitiaro rose again to form this stunning island. One of the highlights of this island is the underground cave system which includes Vai Mouri, a deep, crystal clear, cool lake which is reputed to have healing powers. As with many of the other islands Mitiaro features white sandy coves to enjoy, along with a spot of swimming in the dazzling blue waters.
Penrhyn is the largest and most northerly island in the group of Cook Islands. Due to its remote location, it has a more traditional feel to it with the art of rito still being of great importance. This is the process of weaving using young coconut fronds which are striped and boiled in seawater before being turned into mats, hats or jewellery amongst other things. Fishing is also a popular pastime on the island with the large lagoon being a popular place for game fishing to take place.
One of the most remote inhabited places in the world, Manihaki is also stunningly beautiful. It is essentially a large atoll surrounding a 9km deep lagoon which is the epicentre of the Cook Island pearl industry. The lagoon features a series of pearl farms and Manihaki is renowned for its black pearls. Snorkelling, diving and fishing are the popular activities of choice in Manihiki.
With so many beautiful islands to choose from, each with its own way of live and unique scenery, it’s no wonder that the Cook Islands are referred to as the best-kept secret of the South Pacific.