I get a lot of emails asking similar questions about the Islands. Please don't stop sending emails...I love hearing from people all over the world and I'll always write back, but forgive me sometimes if it takes a few days. You can contact me here (but please note that I cannot help with flights or accommodation). In the meantime, here are some of the most common questions and the answers as best I can provide them
Try to take everything you think you'll need including medications and things like spare contact lenses/glasses, sun protection products and insect (mosquito) repellant. Rarotonga has plenty of shops where you can find most essentials, but err on the side of caution because what is in the shops depends on what has arrived by boat or plane and how recently. Light summer clothing will do most of the time, but you might like to pack a warm jumper or sweat shirt and anything else you think would be useful on a chilly evening (typically July to September). And carry something to cover up when wearing swimsuits if not on a beach or around a pool as you could cause offence if you're only partially clothed. Reef shoes are always recommended if you're venturing among the coral and strong walking shoes or boots if you plan to head off to higher ground or want to visit some of the outer islands where sealed roads are the exception.
Not always. The main water supply on Rarotonga is not potable (not yet certified as safe for drinking) but many resorts have their own filtration systems and there are also water stations on Rarotonga and Aitutaki which will have signs saying whether the supply has been treated for drinking. If you're in any doubt about a supply check first that it's safe. And remember...water is precious in the islands, so please use it thoughtfully
The Cook Islands is one of the safest places in the world. Single travellers won't be hassled - it's not in the nature of the Islanders to hassle anyone. And if you're worried about going out at night alone...don't...don't worry that is
Crime in general is at a very low level. But behave sensibly and don't leave valuables on view if you're on the beach. And the local police are forever reminding people that under the seat of a rented motorbike isn't a secure place either. That said though, as a visitor, you're more likely to be hit by a falling coconut or breadfruit than be a victim of crime (and that's a fact, not a joke!)
If your idea of a good holiday is looking for bars heaving with others from your own nation and having a loud, drunken time, go somewhere else in the world. Nightlife in the islands is what you make it. Rarotonga has plenty of places to go, but it's no Ibiza, Sydney or LA (thank goodness).
If you're going to the outer islands, you will have to ask the locals but don't be suprised if, they suggest joining in the bingo night at the local church hall! People make their own entertainment and it's a long long way from anything in a big city. I had some great nights in Mauke, for example, just chatting to the locals.
This is an almost impossible one to answer because it depends in part on how your local currency compares to the New Zealand dollar. Remember that most supplies have to come in by boat or plane and that can mean stocks are limited and prices for basic groceries can be relatively high. Fresh local fish, fruit and vegetables are abundant though. Australians and New Zealanders say the price of things is a bit dearer than back home. Anyone from the USA will be horrified at the price of petrol and diesel; visitors from Europe won't because it's similar to the price at home (but still not quite as expensive as the UK).
Accommodation ranges from backpacker places for a few dozen NZ dollars a night to the luxurious which is, not surprisingly, a lot more expensive. But wherever you stay and whatever you decide to buy, the scenery, beaches, crystal clear water and friendliness of the locals all come free!!
Yes. Entry visas are free. They're granted on arrival and last for 31 days or 90 days if you're a New Zealand ciitizen. You can stay for up to five months more, but you'll need to extend your entry permit a month at a time at the Department of Immigration in Rarotonga, and each extension will be subject to a fee. New Zealanders can apply for a single three month extension. And I would strongly suggest that if you're planning a long stay (lucky you!), you contact the Tourism Department in your own country before departure and get their advice. There's a link on this page under "Where can I get more information?". That way you can avoid delays on arrival.
I can't even begin to answer this one. The immigration and employment regulations are strict and complicated. Work, even voluntary, is prohibited unless you have the right authorisation. Contact the Cook Islands Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration for advice and guidance . Visit their website
I 'm sure you will be made very welcome. The only contact some of the more remote islands have with the outside world is through visiting yachts. But you MUST to go via the officially designated ports of entry. These are Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu in the Southern Group, and Penrhyn and Pukapuka in the Northern Group. I would also recommend any sailors to have a look at the Cook Islands pages in noonsite.com for specialist information for the cruising community. The Covid pandemic resulted in a whole series of restrictions particularly around the outer islands. The government's website has the latest information about entry controls so click the link to check it before any visit
NO. Manuae and Takutea are the two uninhabited islands and access is strictly forbidden. Trespassers are likely to face prosecution . You can apply for permission to visit but don't be surprised if it isn't granted as the two islands are protected environments. For Manuae,you need a permit from the Committee of Management of the Proprietors for Manuae Incorporated (PMI). Takutea is administered by a Trust and special permission is needed to visit even for landowners. Takutea Trustees, the Atiu Trust, the Island Council and the National Environment Service all have to be consulted and approve any visit
Well, the obvious answer is to look around this website! There's information about every single island, and I've tried very hard to ensure it's accurate with the help of islanders themselves. In particular, have a look at the following pages:
FACT FILE: Everything from currency, health and internet access to language and driving Click here
COOK ISLANDS TOURISM OFFICES : List of addresses and contact numbers worldwide and a link to the tourism site Click here
And if you want A UNIQUE INSIGHT INTO ALL THE ISLANDS "Around the Corner from Nowhere" is my new paperback and e-book available through Amazon. 100% of Profits from sales are donated to dementia charitie s Click here