Escape to the Cook Islands - 50 Shades of Blue

Escape to the Cook Islands - 50 Shades of Blue

We boarded our direct flight from Sydney to Rarotonga. The full in-flight service for the next 5 hour includes a great meal and the latest movies. Perfect! Air New Zealand provides USB plugs in the back of the headrest for your iPhone or iPad movies should you not have “the works” package (which is highly recommended) on your flight. Landed in Raratonga (local Time) at 6.30am clearing customs & immigration with live music in the airport. You can purchase your duty-free alcohol in the airport – prices are less expensive then prices in Australia. We were met on arrival and transferred to our 3star resort on the south eastern side of the island. The island of Raratonga provides a really wide range of accommodation options from self-contained bungalows and apartments for families to the upmarket private pool and villa on the beach in “an adults only” resort. The Cooks have something for everyone. A tip of bring your own reef booties is a good idea. Resorts offer canoes, snorkelling equipment to explore the gorgeous waters.

It is recommended that families hire a car & couples a car or motorbike for your stay. This is best done pre- arranged from Australia so that you have the vehicle at hand as soon as you need. Local Motor Bike license can be arranged at minimal cost.

After a hardy breakfast headed on the local bus to Avuria town to change money at the Western Union & visit the local tourist market which is held every Saturday – lots of lovely fresh cooked foods and drinks to try also a range local crafts. It really is a social occasion and a definite must. This is a lovely port side town & a good place to pick up supplies for your stay. Our first stay in Raro was only 2 nights before our onward flight to Atutaiki so we were happy to ride the local bus. The bus drivers run a fun commentary throughout the route & the service operates clockwise and anti clockwise around the island and the route takes about an hour. This whole island is surrounded by beautiful coral reef beaches with white sand just perfect for forgetting all the stresses from our busy lives. We continued clockwise on the bus so as to see the rest of the island and arrived in time to relax by the pool with a book in hand. Our evening meal was on the beachside restaurant called Vaima Polynesian Restaurant & Bar – they provided pick up and drop off transport as many of the restaurants do on the isle – a beautiful sunset followed by scallops on a bed of risotto & then seafood curry and the best pork belly I have ever had (those who know me know that pork is my favourite food) perfect, tender & juicy & the best rind crackle ever. This was followed by dessert 5 ways! The dining on Raratonga is so sophisticated, there are over 50 cafes & restaurants everything from the best burgers you have ever had all the way to the fine dining Polynesian. You can see the fishing boats coming in and then have fresh fish & chips as they are coming into the harbor. Everything is very relaxed and laid back.

Lazy days are the norm on this paradise isle. We spent the following morning on a walk listening the beautiful voices of the singing of the locals at churches followed by a beach stroll & then feeding the fish & relaxing beachside for the rest of the day – a nice wind down feeling.

For those interested in deep sea fishing – Junior & Diane run the Marlin Queen – approx. $160 for a 1/2 day trip and these guys are very service orientated – they will pick up from all resorts. Ph. 682 55202 or email
[email protected]

One of the things you must do is one of the cultural nights. Many of the resorts hold island nights one I recommend is the Te Vara Nui Village – it is actually an overwater stage and all the tables are on the outside, the other is the Highland Paradise – very family orientated.

There is also a very fun night life – open air bars and nightclubs mixing and mingling with the locals. Wednesday is the most popular night to listen to bands and progresses to Thursday, and Friday nights and then quietening down on Saturday night as the Church services are held on Sunday.

Aitutaki – is located on an atoll. The lagoon is definitely the highlight of a visit to Airutaki. Flights operate several times a day from RARO or you can opt for a 1day excursion. I personally think that Aitutaki Island is definitely worth a few nights stay- it is truly one of the most gorgeous places in our world (and I have been to quite a few). Day 1 here we hired a car & went to explore the coast & inland roads (which aren’t sign posted) however it doesn’t matter as the island is only 27 km around so if you do get lost – it won’t be for long. There are a few options for dining from burgers, pasta & pizza takeaway – try Mangos up near the Pacific resort -where you can dine out the front with your bottle of wine purchased from the local supermarket to fine dining in the resorts & restaurants. Most nights there is a buffet or island night somewhere. The boat shed, Samade, and Cafe Koru are all located at lagoon end by the Aitutaiki Lagoon Resort. Tamanu Restaurant is beachfront licensed has a nice atmosphere. Tupuna’s Restaurant located in the middle if the island has a lovely setting.

There are several operators who run the day trip out to several islands to swim and snorkel and feed the giant trevally, stop into the beautiful 1 Foot Island – gorgeous water & sandbars where you can have your passport stamped. Vaka was the party pontoon style boat where we spent the day, a bbq lunch was provided along with towels & snorkelling equipment- One unforgettable day!

Our next stop on the Cook Islands tour is the Island of Atiu – direct flights from Aitutaki operate twice weekly & the flight is approximately 30 mins operated again by Air Raratonga. It is a crystal clear day (as they mostly are) we pass over the uninhabited island of Manuae and the uninhabited island of Takutea and spot whales on route. The island of Atiu has a completely different feel from the previous two islands. The villages are all located in the middle of the island rather than on the coast. There are 5 self-catering places to stay – we lodged at the Atiu Villas. This group of 6 villas has a pool & dining hall an evening meal is on offer & travellers meet of an evening to share their stories. Our first afternoon we walked down to the beach and watched a group whales – young & old playing and breaching along the shore no more than 100 mtrs away after which we read out books and dozed.

Next morning was an early morning pick up from the famous “Bird Man George” who is known for monitoring & introducing many types of extinct birdlife. We hop on the back of his ute as he drives us through the tropical jungle – clad makatea – he calls the rare bird species & tells us of the flora & fauna of the island – shows us the landing spot of Captain Cook and we finish the morning trip with him climbing a coconut tree to provide us with a drink a fresh fruit feast on the beach. The Anatakitaki Cave is another unforgettable experience. Reasonable fitness and covered shoes are needed to trek through tropical forest & the makatea. Breathtaking limestone caves where the Kopeka bird nests – it navigates its way by using sonar. The trip ends with a visit to the local Tumunu Club which is a bush beer community club. Local men gather to drink home brew and talk about local affairs. We share a few cups of the local brew & talk with locals and new friends.
An excursion to the local coffee plantation hosted by a lovely German couple was also a treat. Andrea is passionate about the local people & the youth of the island. She has aided in assisting school kiddies with the age-old custom of making tapas cloth & local arts. She provides a fine tour of her coffee plantation followed by a lovely tasting of her Arabic coffee. Later in the afternoon we participated in some fishing with local Andrew who provided rods and equipment for our group of 8. Rebaiting, replacing hooks, untangling etc. a fantastic afternoon was had by all – I think we must have caught every different kind and colour of fish possible! Lots of cheers & laughs. Funny, this island is places where you meet and get to know every other traveller on the island as all participate in the island activities- meaningful friendships are found. Our fishing group consisted of 6 different nationalities – Aussie, Kiwis, Finish, Mauritian, South African & Polynesian – memories of my earlier traveling days were revamped! The fish could be cooked up for your evening meal if you wish, however we went for the fantastic burgers & beers at Mrs “Super Brown’s” – she does the best burgers in the southern hemisphere!

Traditionally, The Cooks were for couple,s honeymooners however we found a wide variety of people looking to explore. We met young professionals, friends travelling together, seniors, families and couples renewing their vows or just chilling.
The Cooks suit all types of travellers and with direct flights a 6 night package works perfectly but if you want to stay longer flights via Auckland are available. New Zealand dollars gives us good value for money it’s a safe destination and there is no language barrier.

There is so much to see and do and the locals are so friendly. Perfect for everyone!

Kia Orana: Hello
Aere ra: Goodbye
Meitaki: Thank you

Natalie Miller
Based in Belmont, NSW
Trading Hours
Monday to Thursday 9am - 5pm - 24/7 In emergencies

Make an enquiry

Subscribe to my e-newsletter for the latest travel offers:

My memberships, accreditations and accolades










2018 RECOGNITION AWARD - Travel Managers Conference

Peace of Mind Peace of mind