The Cook Islands are "hidden" in a vast expanse of the South Pacific ocean roughly 3,000 kms (1,867 miles) north east of New Zealand and 4,725 kms (2,936 miles) south of Hawaii. The country is actually 15 separate islands...nine in the Southern Group and six in the Northern Group, and they're defined geographically as between 156-167° West and 8-23° South.
Two of the islands - Takutea and Manuae - are uninhabited.
The Islands are spread across nearly two million square kilometres (nearly 750,000 square miles) of water, which is an area slightly bigger than Indonesia or Mexico and nearly three times the size of Texas! And the whole of those territorial waters are also the world's largest designated whale and shark sanctuary within the world's largest multi-use marine park. 1,433 kms (891 miles) separates the most northerly island (Penrhyn/Tongareva) from the most southerly (Mangaia)
How one writer described the Cook Islands (and the title of my new book about them)
All profits to dementia charities
The Islands are spread across nearly two million square kilometres (nearly 750,000 square miles) of ocean, which is an area slightly bigger than Indonesia or Mexico and nearly three times the size of Texas! And the whole of those territorial waters are also the world's largest designated whale and shark sanctuary within the world's largest multi-use marine park. 1,433 kms (891 miles) separate the most northerly island (Penrhyn/Tongareva) from the most southerly (Mangaia)
Each island is unique...many have stunning lagoons and Aitutaki is listed in several books as one of the places everyone should see before they die! Its lagoon is so vividly blue you'd think it had been painted that colour. By law, no building on any island is taller than the tallest palm tree - and there are plenty of those. The sand is white; if you venture to the outer islands, the only footprints in it could be yours. And life moves at the sort of pace the rest of the world has forgotten.
If you're after an action packed time where everything is packaged and priced, forget it and embrace that! I can't do better than to quote the words of the man whose book* inspired my passion for this paradise. And despite inexorable changes on Rarotonga, they are still as true today as when they were written over 40 years ago...
"You create your own mixture of tropical life. White beaches. Lagoon swimming. Unsmogged skies. Moonlight on palm trees. Make up your own magic"
* How To Get Lost and Found in the Cook Islands, by John W. McDermott. Waikiki Publishing Company
The most visited island with accommodation ranging from five star to backpacker places. Commercial and administrative centre and gateway to other islands via the only international airportabout rarotonga
Second most visited island and particularly popular with honeymooners. Tourism facilities are well developed, but the total number of visitors a year remains a small fraction of those staying on Rarotonga. Day trips are possibleabout aitutaki
ELEVEN OTHER ISLANDS are inhabited but getting to some is neither easy nor cheap. Air Rarotonga - the sole internal airline - flies to eight of them (including Aitutaki). Commercial boat services are few and very far betweenGETTING TO THE OTHER ISLANDS
I'm tempted to say anytime...but here's a bit of guidance to help you decide for yourself. The weather is great all year round but you can expect the longest sunny days from October to March, although it can get a bit humid. It's also the cyclone season from November to April, so there's a small risk of more dramatic weather. June, July and August are cooler months but temperatures are typically still in the mid 20s celcius (upper 70s F) and it can feel chilly at night after warm days (but never cold). The low season for tourism is November to April so if you want the best prices on accommodation (and fewer other visitors) that might be a good choice for you. And there are plenty of special events throughout the year to help make your visit even more memorable. Check out our exclusive calendar of events to find out what's on whenWeather in detail EVENTS CALENDAR
This is THE ONLY TOTALLY INDEPENDENT GUIDE ON THE INTERNET with details about each and every one of the 15 islands. My own travels and those of other visitors and islanders themselves combine to provide what I hope you'll enjoy as a unique insight.
Find out...how to get to the Islands, get advice on getting around them, and discover what to see and do and what makes island each special. There are also a few ideas on what to take home to remind you of paradise.
Some of the Islands' young residents share their thoughts on their beautiful homeland. I've chosen some of the best videos about the Islands. And there are also answers to frequently asked questions, a list of the top 10 things to do and some "did you know?" facts.
USE THE MENU AT THE TOP OF EACH PAGE TO EXPLORE A UNIQUE PARADISE
QUESTIONS? Please feel free to email me and I'll try to help you (note that I do not arrange travel or accommodation)
OK, so you'd rather be in the Cook Islands than on the internet looking at stuff about them. If you're pushed for time and want to get an idea of why I've been having a love affair with this remote South Pacific paradise and hope you'll want to share that love, how about taking a 10 minute tour? Look out for the icon above. By clicking on it each time you see it on a page, you'll be directed to another page and together those pages will give you an introduction to the