How to resist to the paradise? For our part it was very difficult to resist to the beauty of these 15 Polynesian islands set on the turquoise blue water of the Pacific Ocean halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. Cook Islands are surely one of the best kept secrets of Oceania. These islands are dispersed like frangipani petals floating across the 2.2 million square kilometers of a seductive and sensual Pacific Ocean. The country is divided in two parts with the Southern Group logically located to the south consisting of the main island Rarotonga, the magnificent Aitutaki, the wilds Aitu and Mitiaro as well as Takutea, Mauke, Mangaia and Palmerston lagoon. The 6 islands of the Northern Group are almost inaccessible and far from everyone! As a result the beautiful and paradisiac islands of Suwarrow, Manihiki, Nassau, Pukaka, Penrhym and Rakahanga are preserved from tourism. The Cook Islands are of rare beauty, idyllic climate, warm and extraordinary welcome, and a pleasant rhythm of life. They offer you endless adventures, a tender romanticism and a moment of pure Polynesian relaxation.
Maunga Pu Hill
motu of Aitutaki
At 220km north of Rarotonga and only 45 mn of flight, join the island of Aitutaki bathed in its blue turquoise lagoon decorated with 15 motu (islets). Arrival by plane over this tropical jewel leaves us speechless. Aitutaki is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands of all the destinations of the South Pacific and surely one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world! But the look of the beautiful Aitutaki does not stop only with the color of its lagoon. The charm of this place which has the unique characteristics of being both an island and an atoll offering a tropical climate or no less than 1600 inhabitants live on more than 16 square kilometers of land. Go to Maunga Pu Hill which is the summit of the island. It offers a 360 ° view of the lagoon and of the motus. Along the way you will pass by a Bunker built by the Americans during the Second World War. The airport was also built by the US Army and New Zealand to make a line of defense against the Japanese army. The small fishing port, where some boats are moored, is the main point of life of the island. Near the harbor there is a sports field stuck between the sea and the church, a bank, and a bar where the locals watch the magnificent sunset over the ocean. Do not miss the super colored market located on the dock offering all the fresh products coming from the island. At the eastern tip of the island lies the beautiful and popular beach of O'otu, bathed in an amazing lagoon and where some bars and restaurants offer local dishes in an idyllic setting. Tapuaetai beach (One foot Island) has received the distinction of the most beautiful beach in the world (And we understand why once there!). Surprisingly enough, there are no dogs on the island, but an army of cocks singing all day long (and at night) and making people happy to sleep lightly. Lovers of Oceania and the Pacific Islands, advice, you should go few days on Aitutaki, an island located at the end of the world before the secret is too revealed!
Rarotonga, located to the south of the Cook Islands, the capital of this small (but immense) state of the South Pacific, is a few hours flying from New Zealand or Australia. Rarotonga is almost the only way to join her 14 little "sisters". One of the most striking features of Rarotonga is the emerald mountains that rise majestically in its center. The highest peak, the famous "Te Manga" rises 658 meters over the sea level. It is these imposing mountains which distinguish this island from the other lands of the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is a jewel, an island blessed by the Pacific with a spectacular natural beauty. About 14,000 people have the chance to live their. This island, whose coastal road is only 32 kilometers in circumference, is also delightfully uncomplicated and simple with a tropical climate all year round. Through the small town of Avarua which is also the capital of the country, which is all colored, and where dresses and souvenir t-shirts floating in the breeze while the locals take care of their business in an enviable and relaxed way. This small and clean town is mainly a shopping area with many souvenir shops, banks and snacks. Every Saturday in the west of Avarua is the Pananga Nui market, which is the largest market of the country. To the east of the island is the long sandy beach of Muri Beach. Just in front of Muri Beach are the islands of Ta'akoka, Koromiri, Oneora and Motu Tapu forming a magnificent lagoon or windsurfers like to walk and have fun. Just to the rear of the beach are located few bars and restaurants. From July to September whales coming from Antarctica and pass "Raro" to reach the hot waters of the Cook Islands. A splendid walk through the island in the humid and tropical mountains is possible via a path that begins in the Avatiu Valley and ends at Papua Waterfall in Vaima'anga, the ideal place for a refreshing swim. On this walk it is possible to climb on the vertiginous "Te Rua Manga" called "the Needle", attention to those who have dizziness, guaranteed sensation! What more can be said? Friendly and welcoming spaces, accessible water sports, gastronomy particularly tempting, an enthusiastic culture all between sea and mountain! The island of Rarotonga can quickly become essential in your trip in the South Pacific !
Te Rua Manga ( The Needle )
Local life in Avarua
Port of Atiu
The wild and almost virgin island of Atiu 187 km north of Rarotonga is almost round and culminates at 70 meters with an area of 27 square kilometers and has slightly more than 500 inhabitants. There remains not many places like Atiu in the world, an island estimated to have more than eight million years! Nicknamed "Bird Island", Aitu is an ancient island, intact, with a dense and lush tropical forest and a coast made of thick bushes. Also known as "Enuamanu", Atiu is the third largest island in the Cook Islands. The village of Atiu Island is located in the heart of the island on the central plateau. The coast surrounding Atiu is made of "makatea" (fossilized coral) which in some places form cliffs of more than six meters! Sometimes between makatea, you will find a beautiful little white sand beach a real secret of Atiu and most of the time you will be alone! There is no nightclub, no city, only one restaurant, one take-away and a light traffic on the road. The locals are proud that life is almost the same as it was 25 years ago and offers an unforgettable experience for travelers. One of the most interesting things to do on the island is the visit of the limestone caves to the south of Atiu. The most amazing cave is that of Anatakitaki: it is considered a national treasure by the environmentalists of the Cook Islands. It is made of 3 caves, stalagmites, stalactites, a natural pool of fresh water and a high room resembling a natural cathedral which is the house of kopeka (Atiu's unique little birds that use sonar like bats in the dark). Some of the caves go down 50 meters underground and it is advisable to be with a guide to go there. One of the specialties of the island is coffee. An arabica that grows very well on the central plateau and which makes it one of the best coffees of the pacific. Atiu is a peaceful and quiet island with charming and friendly premises. It's a different destination but just as exciting.
The island of Mauke also called "Akatokamanava" (meaning "Where my heart rests") is a raised atoll located northwest of Rarotonga and south of Mitiaro and Atiu. Mauke is barely the half of the island of Rarotonga and counts about 300 inhabitants. It is often described as the "garden island" of the Southern Group of the Cook Islands. Its central volcanic plateau, where the only two villages of Ngatiarua and Areora are located, is surrounded by a lush forest, all around a ring of coral. Several mysterious caves like Motuenga have according to legend more than 100 separate underground rooms that lead to the sea. You will need a guide to enter in the jungle to discover the natural pools of fresh and crystalline waters that are hiden on the island. The cliff near Araiti cave is fascinating to see: the legend tells that Kea, a beautiful woman, died after waiting in vain for her husband Paikea to return from fishing. A mound of stones and a small plaque cover the remains of Kea. The inhabitants of Mauke believe that Paikea has joined the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Only 3 accommodations are possible on the island (cutlery provided). This island is very little visited but what is it pleasant to discuss at sunset with the locals who come here to fish their dinners.
Childrens in Mitiaro
The 4th largest island of the country forms with the islands of Atiu and Mauke the group of Ngaputoru (the Three roots in Maori). Of volcanic origin, the island forms an oval whose diameter is 6.4 km with in its flat heart two freshwater lakes surrounded by swamps which are the largest lakes of the country. Quite confusing for an island of the pacific the lakes are inhabited by Eels and other John Dory imported from Africa! Here the inhabitants fish, cultivate and live like 50 years ago in our western world. Very few visitors come to lose themselves on this small island of the pacific where the beaches and coves of pure water are rare. The 200 inhabitants of the island live in the small villages of Atai and Takaue on the west coast of the island. A walk along the coast of Mitiaro takes you to the entrance of small caves and cozy coves or only rare children have fun at weekends. The most surprising cave of clear water is that of Vai Nauri: it is deep, and the water translucent and very fresh! More than a trip, Mitiaro is a discovery!
Welcome to the most southern island of the Cook Islands! About 200 km south-east of Rarotonga, this elevated atoll has a population of just under 800, located in the small villages of Oneroa, Ivirua and Tamarua. The absence of beach (except one near the Aerodrome) and of hotel infrastructures makes it an island very little visited. It is also one of the few islands in the country to have legislative freedoms. Like most islands in the southern group of the Cook Islands, its coast is shredded by cliffs of limestone cutting the ocean in small pieces. The volcanic central plateau is lush and the main attraction is "Te Puta", which is an easily accessible cave and where from the main room of the cave we get an incredible view of the interior of the plateau. Most of the caves hiding beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The locals like to believe that not all the caves on the island are discovered. Mangaia is not just a trip to a peaceful island, it's an experience!
Manihiki is an island located 1,000 km north of Rarotonga. This atoll is composed of 40 small or large islands. The population mainly focuses on two of the islands that are Tauhunu and Tukao. They each have a small school. This atoll of the group of the North has, in its center, a deep lagoon of 4 km of diameter allowing the permaculture. Like the majority of the islands of the country, Manihiki undergoes a considerable demographic decrease. Manihiki has been known throughout the world since the 1980s for permaculture. Manihiki is the promise of a true escape from the modern world and a total immersion in this paradise very untouched by the ornaments of tourism.