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What others are saying about the Cook Islands
I've been described as an unofficial ambassador for the Cook Islands, but it's not just me that's captivated by this remote South Pacific paradise.  This page is a selection of what I think are some of the best pieces to appear recently in newspapers around the world.   I'll update it as and when I find new items which I hope will be of interest.  All articles are copyright of their respective publishers and links open in a new window or tab.   Photos are my own unless otherwise acknowledged. 
DISCOVERING RAROTONGA
Stepping from my villa on to the white sands, strewn with the odd washed-up coconut, it is a 30-minute stroll before I come across another soul.  However, when you do encounter the friendly folk of Rarotonga, you'll find that, more than anything, they like to chat.  Tell them you've travelled from Scotland and you're also likely to find that many are keen to share details of a surprising branch of their family tree    

Discover more on the newspaper's website  
All rights reserved © 2011 Johnston Publishing Ltd
   
Scotland on Sunday logo
AITUTAKI - "THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE"
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Cook Islands is the islanders themselves. Religious and reserved but never lacking a laugh, Cook Islanders take pride in being humble hosts whether at one of the progressive dinners held in local homes or with a wave along the road. Here on Aitutaki, I twice stumbled upon and was welcomed at traditional dancing events - not held for tourists, mind you, but because everyone from toddlers to grandmas seems to understand that life in Oceania ain't so bad.

Explore more of the middle of nowhere on the newspaper's website
Copyright Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune logo
By Jason George

Muri beach, Rarotonga
Looking across Aitutaki lagoon
Toronto Star logo
By: Aurélie Resch

RAROTONGA AND AITUTAKI:  "MYTHS GARLAND NATURE'S BOUNTY"
While I'm staying on Aitutaki, I let the captain take me from one island to another.  It's like adding beads to a necklace of indigo and sugar white, an endless pleasure for a Robinson-Crusoe-to-be....I am shown some Cook Island black pearls.  As I gaze at the shiny black spheres in my hand, I picture the tears of Rongo, who created Heaven and Earth, who cried tears of sadness when night came and hid the beauty of Earth.  To bring happiness back to Rongo, the moonlight struck his tear-drops as they fell into the sea and made them shine, so Rongo could see the Earth again.  The black pearls are said to be these tears, a gift from the sky to the sea

Read this fascinating insight in full on the Toronto Star website
Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd   Photo, Aurélie Resch
Artefacts of myths and legends
RAROTONGA:  A TRIP TO THE INTERIOR WITH PA
He stood our small group in a ring and asked for silence as he blessed us in his native tongue, in a Buddhist chant and in a Christian prayer.  The tone was set as we began a meditative walk to the heart of the island, and we silently copied Pa's example of mindful foot placement on a rugged trail....From the top of Rarotonga all things seemed possible. The jungle was a lush green carpet around us, and the most daring of our group climbed to the top of the actual giant stone that was The Needle - prompting 141 prayers from Pa for his eventual safety.  We all felt alive and spiritually renewed, and there was a sense among us that we were ready to begin the rest of our lives. 

Share the experience in full on the San Diego Union-Tribune website
Copyright:  The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC, an MLIM Company   All rights reserved

San Diego Union Tribune logo
By Lesley Sauls

Trekking with Pa
By Linda Summerhayes
AIUTAKI:  HEAVEN ON EARTH
Gentle ripples of water from the turquoise lagoon lapped at the shore.  Powder-soft white sand sparkled under the sun.  There seemed no doubt about it - this was definitely one place where Mother Nature got it right.  The sense of solitude and serenity here seemed almost mystical; our catamaran captain had taken the boat to a nearby island called One Foot, leaving us alone on the sandbar in the middle of the lagoon.  

If heaven were a place on earth, this could well be it.  It was so peaceful and perfect that I wished everyone could experience a moment like this, here on Heaven - not all at the same time, of course. The sandbar is less than a hectare in size.

The story in full on the newspaper's own website  Right: One Foot Island (Marcus Glenig)
Copyright: Post Media Network Inc.  All rights reserved



By Monica Zurowski

One Foot Island
RAROTONGA AND AITUTAKI: "HAWAII 50 YEARS AGO"
The giant smiles of the locals and their unending hospitality makes this South Pacific getaway worth putting on the "before you die" list.  The Cook Islanders love to tell you "We don't live to be served.  We live to serve."  They even have a saying, "Kiriti maro tai."  It means there's no such thing as a stranger.  And once you step on Aitutaki's ceremonial black rock, everything on the island becomes yours.  You're part of the family.  Except in my case, the dancing gene that enables Cook Islanders to gracefully wow and win most South Pacific dance competitions is still taking root.

From Pam Grout's travel site, georgeclooneyslepthere.com
Photo from pamgrout.com


Pam Grout
By author, freelance writer and "adventurer extraordinaire" Pam Grout
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"MIND BENDINGLY GORGEOUS" AITUTAKI
You want to call this place paradise even though you know that word is carelessly over-used. But these tiny unspoilt islands in the South Pacific really are paradise - pure, without a hint of tourism's razzle, islands out of fantasies, islands to dream of being a castaway, to make you yearn for romance....Aitutaki's lagoon is simply mind-bendingly gorgeous

Read in full on the newspaper's website  
© Sunshine Coast Newspaper Company Pty Ltd 2016.
   
The gorgeous lagoon
By Ann Rickard