A chain of 15 islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands are overseen by New Zealand but retain their own distinct national identity. The islands are known for their immense natural beauty, perfect beaches, top-quality diving and vibrant culture and craftsmanship. A perfect under-the-radar Pacific escape.
Punanga Nui Market
The Cook Islands are well known for their lively, bustling markets and the Punanga Nui Market is the biggest and best of them all. Based on an ideal waterfront location, the market hosts a plethora of stalls specialising in a variety of different items, from fresh fruit and vegetables to seafood. In addition, the market is home to a variety of live performers, which allows visitors to get a sense of the island’s distinct culture.
The main beach on the biggest island of Rarotonga, Muri Beach is home to a number of luxury hotels. Known for its beauty, encapsulated by its perfect clear waters. The beach is a buzzy part of the island and popular amongst tourists, with a number of amenities such as bars and restaurants nearby. Combining astounding natural beauty with exciting activity, the beach is one of the best parts of the Cook Islands to visit.
One of the most popular of the Cook Islands, Aitutaki is well-known for a number of reasons, but it is its beautiful lagoon that is its main draw. Known for its pristine, turquoise waters, the lagoon is one of the most peaceful destinations amongst the Cook Islands. The island has been generally untouched, and although it has recently seen a surge in tourism, it remains one of the quieter places to visit, with a number of activities available such as kayaking and swimming.
The Cook Islands are amongst the Pacific’s top diving destinations and for good reason. The 15 islands which comprise the chain are spread out over vast expanses of ocean, allowing divers to experience a diverse array of marine life. There are a number of hotspots scattered around the islands although Rarotonga is considered to be the main hot spot, catering to a variety of different levels of expertise.
One of the Cook Islands’ best known activities. Whale watching is particularly popular during the months of July to October as the animals migrate southwards during the summer months. It is an easily accessible activity, and whales can often be glimpsed from the beach. There are a variety of different species including humpbacks which travel to the Cook Islands.