The Cook Islands comprises 15 significant islands spread between French Polynesia and American Samoa. These 15 islands were grouped into the Northern Cook islands and the Southern Cook islands. In total, the land area of all the islands is 240 square kilometers.
The Cook Islands is considered tropical heaven and the perfect location for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. With lots of lush resorts, these islands have attracted immense visitors worldwide. This Cook Island Travel Guide will help you to know more about this stunning natural landscape.
History of the Cook Islands
The Polynesian people, migrants from Tahiti, were the first settlers in the Cook Islands in the 6th Century. The first written record was traced in the 16th Century when Spanish Ships visited the island, specifically Pukapuka, with Alvaro de Mendana de Neira in 1595.
Later in 1773 and 1777, the British Navigator Captain James Cook named the island Hervey Islands, but it was soon changed to Cook islands honoring the discovery of Captain Cook. Some conquerors would want to take a stand on the Cook islands.
It became a British Protectorate in 1888 and was annexed to the New Zealand Government in 1901. The COOK ISLANDS is treated as a free associated state of New Zealand, enabling them to communicate directly with the international community.
Because of the strategic location of the Cook Islands, the people living on these islands are greatly affected by the disasters caused by natural calamities, primarily typhoons.
This results in the devastation of their agricultural lands from which the people depend for exporting copra and citrus fruits. In effect, the people living on these islands often rely on foreign assistance and help from the dominant state, New Zealand.
The Cook Islands was at the peak of its deficit in the 1980s and 1990s. They were in a vast budget deficit and were asked for assistance from neighboring countries. They accumulated large debts because they borrowed money to meet their needs.
Because of this growing concern, they sought reformation. They sold some state assets to pay debts, refurnished their economic management plan, entered into foreign agreements beneficial to their country, and encouraged tourism by exposing the natural tourist destinations in the country.
They also entered into pacts with advocacies to promote environmental protection and conservation.
They were able to regain their economic stance. People improved their tourism and fishing to stabilize the Cook Islands’ economy. As a result, tourism became the country’s primary industry and the leading contributor to economic development.
There were recorded 100,000 visitors traveling to the islands during the 2011 fiscal year. Fishing, on the other hand, improves the exporting capability of the islands.
The Islands to Visit in the Cook Islands
It is easy to find regular flights to the southern group of islands of the Cook Islands, including Aitutaki, Manuae, Palmerston, Takutea, Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro, Mangaia, and Rarotonga.
All these islands are worth exploring, but Aitutaki and Rarotonga are the most convenient to visit. Make sure you visit Atiu if you like to see caves and enjoy diving. Mangaia is the second largest island in the Cook Islands, with only 500 people.
Things to Do
The Cook Islands have many hiking trails around Rarotonga, like Avana Valley, Papua Waterfall, and Raemaru Lookout. If you are not a good hiker, take a guided hike with you.
There is a great way to enjoy diving with caves, canyon ls, and coral reefs teeming with lots of fish. While diving, you will also see rays, sea turtles, reef sharks, etc. Diving on an island destination completes a trip.
3. Enjoying Traditional Dance Shows
You should only return to your place knowing much about your dream destination’s culture. Therefore, you must hunt if there are any cultural shows to explore or not. Te Vara Nui is a village on Cook Island where you can learn about the indigenous people’s culture. Ura Po is a very popular activity that attracts outsiders.
3. Hanging out
Keep hanging out on Atiu on your list too. Atiu island is a fantastic place for visitors with a minimal crowd. Another specialty of this place is you can see rare birds like kopeka from this place.
4. Making a Fishing Trip
The Cook Islands allows visitors to experience deep-sea fishing with dolphin fish, yellowfin, sailfish, marlin, wahoo, barracuda, Mahi Mahi, and skipjack tuna.
Don’t you spend your leisure by exploring the lagoon around Rarotonga by kayaking? Rarotonga is the most popular place for kayaking in the Cook Islands. You will see crystal clear water there where you can have a snorkeling experience too.
When searching for a perfect place to shop in the cook islands, you must hear the name of Punanga Nui Market, located in Rarotonga. Many shops sell handmade products, artworks, jewelry, ukulele, fresh fruits, baked foods, sweet items, smoothies, and coffee. It is better to go shopping there on Saturday. Sunday is the off-day of Punanga Nui Market.
You can enjoy swimming at Papua Waterfall, the most attractive and visited waterfall in the Cook Islands. You can get there by hiking from the trail on the eastern side of the Sheraton resort. There is a mesmerizing waterfall and a stunning swimming pool at the base.
8. Enjoying the Sunset
Don’t forget to visit Black Rock, located on the northwestern side of Rarotonga. It is the best place to enjoy the sunset because the famed black rock creates a fantastic contrast against the sky and gives a splendid ocean view.
Also Read: Cayman Islands Travel Guide
When to Visit the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands have comfortable weather for visitors throughout the year. Both summer and winter months are pleasant with moderate temperatures. So, you can plan to go there anytime you want, but there is some risk of hurricanes in the rainy season, from December to April.
So, you have to remember that before going there, but the good news is, the rain doesn’t last too long. So, you can also enjoy a sunny day during the rainy season.
June to August is the driest season when many people from different worlds get a long winter vacation. You Should avoid this time if you want to enjoy a relaxing or comfortable trip. So, the resorts become full of people during these months.
We recommend booking your accommodations in advance if you want to visit this place. October is their Spring time which is generally less windy than other seasons. Try to avoid the cyclone season that runs from December to April.
The Cook Islands was even described as a castaway’s dream come true because of the natural and breathtaking sceneries nowhere to be found in the city. It is an escape from the hassle of a busy life and is a relaxing place to spend time with family and friends.
Not only are the beautiful sceneries the only asset of the Cook islands. The people also have rich culture and traditions any foreigner will look forward to. For example, they are engaged in woodcarving, resembling the attributes of their gods. They are also experts in weaving mats, hats, and baskets made of a coconut palms.