Finding out more about the Cook Islands is nearly as difficult as finding them in the first place.   There are very few good guidebooks which are easily available, and only a handful of really useful websites.  The purpose of this page is to share with you some personal recommendations.     If you think I've overlooked a good source of information, please let me know.  
The oldest and one of the most comprehensive websites is at www.ck.   There are sections on history, culture, art, books about the islands, investment, travel, events, who's who and of course the islands themselves. It's also available in German and French.   I particularly liked the section filled with recipes, among  which is one for what the creator calls a "fun flavoured" breakfast!  The layout is boring though and it lacks detail on the outer islands.  



The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation web site had a complete makeover a couple of years ago with the help of a marketing company.    The end product is disappointing, and there is a distinct lack of information about the outer islands.  The calendar of events is often sparce in its content too.  But it is the official tourism department, so it's worth a look.   www.cookislands.travel. 




Jane Resture is another one who's passionate about the Pacific, and her Cook Island pages are full of colourful pictures, information and even links to Pacific Islands radio stations on the net.
Two of the outer islands have their own web sites and both are strongly recommended.  I've summed up Atiu in one page but the people of the island have created dozens on their own site.   The information ranges from beaches and accommodation to coffee production and cannibalism.  Don't worry...they give visitors a warm welcome now, rather than eat them! 


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE NEXT? 
ISLANDS ON DVD AND FILM  WEB LINKS    SOURCES OF INFORMATION
OR TAILOR MAKE YOUR OWN TOUR USING THE MENU ON THE LEFT
 
Ian Heydon describes himself as a "scribbler"...and on Cook Islands A to Z he's scribbled an amazingly detailed guide to what the Cooks have to offer. 

Favourite part of that site for me is the old postcards of the islands...something you won't see on any other Cook Islands site.  I would also recommend subscribing to her monthly newsletter about Oceania - like the web site, it's well written and full of fascinating information.  A "must visit" site.

Information ranges from Ara Metua (the old inner road round Rarotonga - one I'd highly recommend taking) to Ziona Tapu (it means "sacred zone" and you'll find it inscribed on some churches).   This is a "must visit" site if you're planning a trip to the islands.   And Ian's being modest when he uses the term scribbler - he's a novelist, award winning comedy writer, song writer, former radio producer and someone who shares my passion for the Cook Islands (so he must be a fine man!!!)  If you want to know more, go to Ian Heydon.com

RECOMMENDED READING
And teacher, Angie Croft - who hails originally from Manchester,England -  is doing a similar service for the magical island of Mauke where she lives and works.  Her website is small but very interesting and a must read for anyone planning a visit - and I would urge you to visit.
WORTHWHILE WEBSITES
VERDICT:  Priceless information from those who know best
VERDICT:  Clearly a labour of love
VERDICT:  Everything you need to know in an easy to find format
VERDICT:  Overflowing with information and passion (some large pages slow to load)
VERDICT:  Disappointing...more style than substance.
Head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to travel guides are the MOON HANDBOOKS of David Stanley.   David (left) has visited 191 of the 245 countries and territories on the planet,  and unlike many travel writers, he experiences places in the way the rest of us do rather than being hosted by tourism offices.  

Strongly recommended are his "SOUTH PAFICIC" guide and his "TAHITI: INCLUDING THE COOK ISLANDS" volume.  The former covers more islands than most of us even knew existed in the South Pacific, while the latter takes in French Polynesia and Easter Island.  But both have comprehensive sections on the Cook Islands which are full of up to date information that's the result of on the ground research.  Sadly, printing is going to stop, so grab one while you can.

Much less easy to get hold of, but also highly recommended is the COOK ISLANDS COMPANION by Elliot Smith (Pacific Publishing Company, Albany, California, USA).  Sub-titled, "The Visitor's Guide to Rarotonga and the Outer Islands", there's a stunning amount of information crammed into its 176 pages, even if some of it is now out of date.  It's especially valuable if you want to know more about the rarely visited islands from someone who has been to them.  There are plenty of nearly new copies if you search Abebooks on either their worldwide or UK site.




The "must have" reference and guide book
Meanwhile, if you're looking for something about the Islands to read on the plane, boat or beach, you can find a selection of recommendations by clicking here.
FOR A FURTHER INSIGHT....
The Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation has fascinating pages about the turtle survey on Palmerston.  They are also undertaking a survey of humpback whales in and around the waters of the Cook Islands.  That project began in 1998 and continues until 2008.  The turtle site has some stunning pictures, video clips and windows wallpaper for download.  The Center is non-profit making organisation founded to conserve cetaceans and the ecosystems they inhabit.  And that's important to all of us.

More than 4,000 species, 2,400 images and 45 video clips are all part of the fascinating Cook Islands Biodiversity and Natural Heritage web site




There's also a bibliographic database and over two and a half thousand natural heritage words from Maori dictionaries.   A truly great site, and an invaluable resource.
The MV Bounty Bay (right) is the only vessel authorised to operate tours to the protected Southern Group Island of Takutea.  It also visits Suwarrow and Palmerston...both very difficult to reach under normal circumstances.   Indeed access to Takutea is strictly controlled.   So if you want to visit parts of the Cook Islands where you're likely to be the only tourist, this is a superb way to do so.    Dr Graham Wragg and his crew have been operating in the Pacific for 16 years.   Their web site has all the tempting details!  And you can see some pictures on this site of one of the Bounty Bay visits to Takutea or Suwarrow

A site called thepacific.co.nz,  is devoted to islands all over the Pacific region.   The Cook Islands pages include a forum which attracts islanders worldwide and those who are interested in or share a love of the the Cook Islands.  Register for free.  Some great pictures too.
In PAPA MIKE'S COOK ISLANDS HANDBOOK, Mike Hollywood (yes, that's his real name) has produced a guide book which is an enjoyable read in its own right.  It's very much aimed at an American audience, and the casual writing style won't be to everyone's taste, but it is full of  extremely useful and very practical information.   I am also full of admiration (and envy) because Mike has taken the time (and gone to a lot of trouble!) to visit nearly all of the inhabited islands.  If you're thinking of braving the inter island freighter to follow in his footsteps, this becomes compulsory reading.    Mike also has a website which you might like to dip into.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Personal Recommendations
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