Cook Islands

Welcome To The Cook Islands Travel Guide

Kia Orana and welcome to our Cook Islands country guide! The Cook Islands are located in the South Pacific between Hawaii and New Zealand. They are made up of fifteen major islands, with the capital of Rarotonga being the largest. The entire island of Rarotonga is about 35 km and it takes approximately 45 minutes to drive completely around the island. This is where all international flights land in the Cook Islands and although there will be mention of other islands, our focus is mainly on Rarotonga. These islands are not well known to Northern Americans, making them arguably the best kept secret in the Pacific Ocean. We invite you to look through our guide and to “love a little paradise.” In doing so, we hope that you feel enlightened and inspired to book a holiday to the Cook Islands.

What can I expect from The Cook Islands?

The Cook Islands are a hidden gem located in the South Pacific Ocean. They offer warm and sunny weather year-round with the drier season being April-November and the warm, humid season occurring between December-March. Unlike some of its Pacific Ocean “neighbors”, there is no over-tourism and minimal light pollution which allows for quiet nights of stargazing after enjoying a traditional island show. In the daytime, if you are anything like us, you can spend hours in the jungle-clad mountains hiking amongst the lush green flora and then going straight to the beach to snorkel with thousands of tropical fish. Not for you? The Cook Islands boasts beautiful beaches and protected lagoons which allows for other water sports like kitesurfing, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat rides, diving, and fishing. Other options include renting a bike and riding the island, exploring the museums and shops and visiting local breweries. The people here are extremely friendly and proud of their Polynesian culture. Take time to make conversation and get to know the lifestyle. You can expect beautiful sunny days, somewhat cool nights, and a variety of action packed and relaxing days. You may not get a good night’s sleep, but you are sure to find yourself begging for longer days and nights as you begin exploring this little paradise.

Things to See and Do in The Cook Islands

Cross Island Trek
Island Nights
Sunset Happy Hour
Beer Tasting

Typical Costs When Traveling

AccommodationWe rented a 3 Bedroom 2 Bathroom House with a pool on Airbnb for $1344.18 this was for 5 nights and split between 4 people.

Food -Prices for meals varied a lot, we found fish and chips for NZD $8.50 one day but also ate at fancier restaurants for NZD$35-$50/dinner.

TransportationWe got lucky with our flights and only paid $500 Roundtrip from LAX. We rented a car from Island Car and Bike Hire for NZ$368 for 6 days.

Suggested daily budget – $100-$130 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a Airbnb, eating out some, but also cooking some of your meals, and using a rental car to get around. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)

Money Saving Tips

  1. Bring your own snorkel equipment and opt to snorkel yourself rather than on a tour.  Sure you’ll miss out on the glass bottom boats and the information provided about the fish around the island, but you are sure to see plenty just by swimming out into the water from the shoreline.
  2. Buy food for some of your meals from the local grocery store.
  3. Watch for cheap flights.  We paid about $500 round trip for our flights directly to Rarotonga out of LAX. Keep your eye out for a deal!
  4. Visit in the low season.

My Must Have Guides For Traveling

Everything you need to know about traveling.

Lonely Planet Rarotonga, Samoa and Tonga Travel Guide

Keep Reading

Cook Island’s in 24 Frames

A Good Night’s Sleep in Rarotonga

Cross Island Trek

Raemaru Mountain Track

Island Nights

Snorkel Rarotonga

Visit a Brewery or Try Banana Wine

Mountain Bike Rarotonga

Eat Good Food



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