Here’s Why You Should Run Away From Your Problems To The Cook Islands
Rarotonga and Aitutaki are waiting for you...
Ever thought about running away from life's problems to the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Well, here’s your sign to do just that, and there’s never been a better time to go for it. Introducing, the Cook Islands…
Situated just above New Zealand and just under Hawaii, the Cook Islands are an abundance of small islands (we’re talking populations between 17,000 and, like, 300) that operate under what’s known locally as ‘Island Time’. Essentially, they’re really, really chilled out. (Hence why it’s the perfect place to run away from your responsibilities, hint hint.)
Here are all the reasons why you NEED to book yourself on the next flight out there.
When In Paradise...
Cruise around The Islands Capital of Rarotonga then dive in for some snorkeling
Hilarious staff? Crystal clear waters? Did we mention the hilarious staff? Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise Rarotonga is the place to be for a fun-packed day out for all the family. Breeze through the waters and islands surrounding Rarotonga by boat before diving into the water for an up close and personal snorkeling experience with all the sea life the ocean has to offer; from lightning blue starfish to giant turtles, to some seriously huge clams (like bigger than our face, guys). Then hop back on the boat and head to the nearest island for lunch (our mouths are watering just thinking of that freshly caught tuna the Islanders can cook up) and a comical show hosted by those hilarious staff members we told you about.
Explore The Islands off Aitutaki Where The Show ‘Shipwrecked’ Was Filmed
You’ve never seen blue water quite like this. Imagine Disney’s Moana (which was based on the islands of the South Pacific, including the Cook Islands), but IRL. The Vaka Cruise is the perfect way to explore the islands of Aitutaki - in their entirety. Travel over both shallow and deep blue-sky-waters that run in between the islands whilst you lounge away on the deck. Hop off to explore every island, including those where the reality show ‘Shipwrecked’ was filmed back in the early 2000s and which is now making its comeback this January the 28th. Oh, did we mention there’s also a fresh fish BBQ at the end as well? Cook Islanders really love their fish, and you’ve never really tried fish until you’ve had it pulled fresh out of the sea and straight onto a roasting spit.
Paddle Board At Night In Rarotonga As The Sun Sets
Here’s one for the bucket list: hop on a light up paddle board and sail across the ocean as the sun sets in Rarotonga. The dreamy experience of a setting sun in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, accompanied with lights that make the sea life beneath you glow into sight, as you whisk your way through the tropical waters… I mean, could you want any more? Add that with tales told by descendants of ancestors that voyaged through the islands years ago, and you’ll never feel more immersed in the Cook Islands culture. Check it out here.
Spend The Night Watching Flame-throwing, Dancing, Live Music, And Digging Away At An All-you-can-eat?
We won’t give you any spoilers, but the Te Vara Nui Cultural Water Experience - with its walls lined with ancient artifacts and real tools used by Cook Islanders - is sure to have you more intrigued in the history of the Islands than ever before. Hosts are skilled in the history; most having lived it (many of the tour team were born and spent most of their lives there) so there’s no better experience for a deeper insight into the Islands and their history. Add that to a live overwater show filled with talented dancers, flamethrowing mixed with live music, and a buffet fit for the Gods, it’s the best place to head down to for a night of cultural live history.
Get Down ‘n Dirty In The Rarotonga Valleys On The Buggy Experience
Roam around the island in pairs on buggies and take in the views and feel of the Rarotonga Island life as you drive through the backroads and explore the towns and lives of its residents that live below the mountains. Then head into buggy paradise: muddy roads that will be sure to leave you covered and soaked in mud from head to toe by the end, and race your other contenders around the course. Then head down to the golfing range for some healthy competition, and if you can hit their hole in one, you can get your whole experience refunded for free! Check it out here.
Travel Deep Into The Rarotonga Rainforest On An Eco Bike Tour
Want to explore the Rarotonga rainforest in all its natural beauty? Head down to the Storytellers Eco Bike Tour for a look through the islands ancient coastal roads and hidden valleys. Ride through the island and learn from its own residents about how they’re self-sustainable with their crops, and exactly what life is like living in paradise. Explore their gardens filled with the agriculture that the island depends on, from pineapple plants to watermelon fields, and you’ll even be fortunate enough to try some of the delicious freshly grown fruit too. Top that off with a lunch and swim in a secluded beach, and you’ll find yourself living life in island time like a pro.
You NEED To Dine In These Island Bars And Restaurants
Feast In The Rarotonga Mountains At Antipodes
Ever wanted to dine from the mountains as the sun sets in the tropics version of nirvana? Head up to Antipodes on the edge of the Rarotonga Mountains and spend the night eating like kings and queens as you munch on the fresh array of treats the restaurant has to offer. The al fresco style cuisine offers a range of a la carte dishes as well as sharing boards and platters - truly something for everyone no matter the craving. With dishes lined up of Mediterranean style food from freshly grilled fish, crumbed eggplant, chargrilled vegetables and more - you’ll never want to leave this little sanctuary hidden in the Rarotonga hills.
Chill At Charlie’s
Can you ever really beat a mean juicy burger on the beach with live music playing in the background? Charlie’s Bar sits on the coast of Rarotonga, so you can sit back and chill whilst munching, as the views of the ocean are laid out before you to admire in all their glory. With local beer, Matutu Brewery, on tap (and available to order in 3-liter jugs), soothing daiquiris (we suggest you try the raspberry flavor), and a lineup of food from giant sandwiches to pasta dishes - there’s no beating a night at Charlie’s. Just ask the locals.
Dine With A View In Aitutaki At Rapae Bay
Whether you’re heading down for freshly cooked pancakes at breakfast or dining at night and in the mood for some seafood pasta, Rapae Bay at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki has got all your needs covered. With a live band, a view from above of the glistening ocean below, and a menu lined with anything your heart desires (from an array of burgers to fresh fish sushi to creamy risottos and plenty more), Rapae Bay is the perfect place to spend a night relaxing. Void of any worries, with waves crashing in the background, and a setting sun before you… it’s the perfect place to escape.
Keep It Cool At The Barefoot Bar And Sandals Restaurant
Dining at the Pacific Resort couldn’t be more perfect if it tried. Imagine a white, sandy beachfront that runs for miles, friendly dogs running free (their owners living close by), a clear ocean and islands dotted around you in the distance… and now add a mimosa and a Mediterranean-style dinner on top of it all. Heaven, we think? From refreshing Caesar salads to Ribeye steaks and the infamous Ika Mata (raw fish in a lemon and coconut sauce with a salad to compliment), it’s the official place to end a day of exploring in paradise.
There’s Something For Everyone When It Comes To Accommodation
Pacific Resort Rarotonga
Looking to stay in the Cook Islands capital, Rarotonga? Find heaven at the Pacific Resort Rarotonga, the center of life on the island. Nestled in the middle of a perfectly-kept clean and sandy beachfront, the resort stands in the middle of lively bars and restaurants either side- making it the ultimate stop for tourists looking to immerse themselves in island culture. With luxury apartments, the sound of IRL roosters rising you in the morning, and blooming nature surrounding you, it gives you the best of both worlds in the blissful haven. Oh, and with Sandals Restaurant and the Barefoot Bar on site, it’s got everything you desire right at your service. We suggest a mimosa for breakfast, you’re on holiday, after all.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki
Ever wanted to wake up to the view of a paradisiacal sunrise over the beach, the sound of waves crashing in the far distance, and an island breeze running through your curtains as you lounge for hours? Well, the Pacific Resort Aitutaki (partnered with the Pacific Resort Rarotonga) can offer you that and so much more. With luxurious villas (offering wifi and television plus over 1000 free movies) that reside by a quiet and secluded beach, the famous Rapae Bay restaurant on site, and the island of Aitutaki’s warm temperatures under the hot, boiling sun, there’s no beating a stay here. Note: if you choose to visit in the tropics low season, you may be falling asleep to the peaceful sound of tropical rain, could it be any more idyllic?
Fancy going your own way when traveling? The Rarotonga Backpackers is the quintessential place to check into when traveling alone or wanting to travel on a budget. Situated on the beach, it’s residents get the best of the Cook Islands world without any added expenses. With a restaurant on site, pool, and accommodation all close by- it’s also a great place to meet other travelers. Plus, with the local bus operating on the hour, it’s easy to get around the island.
Ikurangi: Eco Retreat In Rarotonga
Fancy living lavish and saving the environment at the same time? The Ikurangi: Eco Retreat is the place to book yourself into if you want to feel at one with the nature of the Cook Islands. Being the first purpose-built eco-retreat on the island, it offers visitors the chance to travel AND be conscious of their impact on the environment at the same time. Using shallow foundations for decking, composting toilets, sustainably sourced materials and more- it’s proof that the environment doesn’t have to suffer when we vacation. Not only that, but it’s a look into the natural inland beauty of the island that you just can’t find anywhere else.
MTV Travelled with… Cook Islands Tourism
Flights: Air New Zealand