Cook Islands

Travel Guide
One Foot Island Beach showing tropical scenes and a beach

Discover hidden caves, learn about Polynesian culture and traditions and swim among schools of tropical fish in this Pacific island paradise.

Spread across a large ocean expanse between New Zealand and Hawaii are the 15 tiny Cook Islands. With rainforests tumbling down to coral-fringed beaches, crystal-blue lagoons filled with tropical fish and high mountain scenery, nature is the big attraction. Swim in warm waters, sunbathe on powdery white sands, hike up forested mountains and watch migratory whales pass by.

Most visitors arrive on Rarotonga. The archipelago’s principal island is the only one with an international airport. Stay for a few days to enjoy its attractions. Go for a scenic drive along the 20-mile (32-kilometer) coastal road that encircles the island. Swim, fish, dive and snorkel in the blue lagoon that surrounds Rarotonga. Hike up Raemaru, the flat-top mountain on the west side of the island.

Travel to some of the other Cook Islands by using the inter-island air services. There are no scheduled ferry services between the inhabited islands. There are inter-island cargo ships, but the service is sporadic.

Take the 1-hour flight from Rarotonga to its nearest neighbor, Aitutaki, for plenty of watersports in its lagoon. Explore the ancient caves on Mangaia and dive among the corals off Palmerston Island. Nearby Atiu Island is home to numerous bird species including the blue kingfisher, brown booby and the rare kopeka. This is a perfect place to become a birdwatcher if you aren’t one already. While you are here, tour the Atiu Coffee Factory and its plantations.

The 850,000 square miles (2.2 million square kilometers) of ocean around the Cook Islands have been designated a whale sanctuary. From July to October, humpback whales pass the islands on their annual migratory route. Head out to sea on a whale-watching trip or stay on land to catch sight of the large marine mammals. They are often spotted from the shores of any of the islands.

The Cook Islands have a tropical climate that’s warm year-round. This beautiful setting attracts many honeymooners and other vacationers for its wildlife, scenery and tranquility.

Cook Islands Travel Guide Video

Popular cities in Cook Islands

Muri Beach showing tropical scenes
Rarotonga
Known for Beach view, Islands and Snorkeling
Experience the glittering blue lagoons, white-sand beaches and laid-back lifestyle of the capital of the Cook Islands.

Reasons to visit

  • Cook Islands Library and Museum
  • Cook Island Christian Church
  • Maire Nui Botanical Gardens
Atiu featuring rugged coastline as well as a family
Atiu
Known for Islands, Fishing and Bird watching
A tropical wilderness of vast untouched beaches and stunning birdlife will capture your imagination. See kopeka birds, found only on this island.

Reasons to visit

  • Anatakitaki Cave
  • Cooks Landing
  • Rima Rau Burial Cave
Aitutaki which includes general coastal views and tropical scenes
Aitutaki
Known for Beach view, Friendly people and Islands
A remote island where bone-white beaches stretch along a triangular atoll and spectacular natural scenery bewitches at every turn.

Reasons to visit

  • Ootu Beach
  • Akitua Island
One Foot Island Beach showing a sandy beach as well as a small group of people
Tekopua
Known for Beach view
Leave the modern world behind and escape to this remote islet where unspoiled beaches and a tropical atmosphere will leave you speechless.

Reasons to visit

  • One Foot Island Beach

Cook Islands