The Cook Islands are not as a familiar a destination in the South Pacific as Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Fiji, but they are well worth the visit.
Lying about 600 miles (give or take) to the west of Bora Bora in French Polynesia, the islands are reached by a 9-hour flight with Air New Zealand once a week from Los Angeles.
As Wikipedia describes them “The Cook Islands comprise 15 islands whose total land area is 92.7 square miles, while the ocean area surrounding these 15 islands is 690,000 square miles!” I added the exclamation mark!
How do you get here? Three ways: 1.) Fly non-stop from LAX for a flight of 9-hours as mentioned above on Air New Zealand. 2.) Fly from Papeete, Tahiti on Air Tahiti. This flight most of the year is once a week on Thursdays/ During high demand times Air Tahiti flies twice a week, Thursdays and Saturdays. 3.) Air New Zealand has a number of flights from Auckland into Rarotonga weekly.
This makes the Cook Islands a perfect stopover when heading to or from New Zealand!
You may have heard of Rarotonga and I know you “Survivor” fans have heard of Aitutaki. Did you know though that the cave with the human remains segment was actually filmed on Atiu?
Rarotonga, the island you fly into has a volcanic island surrounded by a fringing reef, much like the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora.
Aitutaki is an atoll and, thus has the fringing reef with islands on the reef which is where the locals live but no volcanic island. The lagoon is large and beautiful with a mandatory stop on “One Foot Island” to get your passport stamped!
Atiu and Mangaia, is the third type of island in this group and it is surrounded by “makatea.” Merriam-Webster defines this as a “broad, uplifted coral reef surrounding an island in the South Pacific.” This coral is petrified, is grey and black of color, and looks very forbidding. You land on a strip that is surrounded by this makatea. Once you go over the makatea you enter a land of “Shangri-La.” There are lakes, waterfalls, farming, and for accommodation guest houses or small hotels. It is truly a remarkable transformation from grey and black to greens, blues and flowers!
The Cook Islanders are of Polynesian/ Maori ancestry and are known as powerful rowers of their canoes. The islands are green and the sea and lagoon lovely colors of blue.
I hope I have wetted your appetite for checking out the Cook Islands. These are islands of wonderful people, great hiking, dining, romance, exploring, beach laying, snorkeling, and just experiencing the perfect South Pacific island!
Stay tuned to find out more about the Cook Islands!