To be found on the world map between French Polynesia and Fiji, appearing as little dots scattered around the Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands consist of 15 beautiful islands and atolls of very different size and appearance.
The islands are situated in the middle of the Polynesian Triangle of the South Pacific, with the Kingdom of Tonga and Samoa to the west, and Tahiti and her Islands to the East.
The islands vary from “high” (by our standards) volcanic islands with high interiors and close in reefs, to atolls with large turquoise lagoons, long white sandy beaches and bordered by a string of motu’s (small islets) The Cook Islands consists of two groups of Islands, the Northern Group and the Southern Group.
Nine of the Islands are serviced by air. Travel by ship is possible, but not know to be reliable or of a very high standard for passengers. You can fly direct to Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands, on scheduled services from Auckland New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, USA and Canada. We are the same distance south as Hawaii is north of the equator, and share the same time zone.
The Cook Islands offer a wide variety of experiences, from something that will appeal to visitors looking for a day in the sun, through to a unique insight into life on remote islands and atolls appreciated by travelers and hardened 'island collectors'. For each, a visit to our outer islands will be a memorable part of their journey to the South Pacific Islands. There are definitely no crowds, few telephones and little commercialisation.
The fifteen islands of the Cooks (including Rarotonga), are divided into two groups, the Southern and the Northern group. The Southernmost Island, Mangaia, lies 120 miles southeast of Rarotonga just above the Tropic of Cancer, while the northern- most atoll of Tongareva (Penrhyn) is some 750 miles north of Rarotonga at 9 degrees south of the equator.
The attraction and level of development on each of the outer islands is almost as diverse as the topography with some offering access daily by airlines service and comfortable hotels and lodges, to the more remote which are serviced by infrequent ships with limited and basic accommodation.
While Aitutaki is famous for its Lagoon, enjoyed by travelers ever since TEAL flying boats plied the Coral route, islands such as Mangaia and Atiu feature makatea (raised coral reef) with spectacular limestone caverns and caves.
The northern group atolls of Manihiki and Tongareva are home to exquisite South Seas black pearls, while life in Pukapuka is now legend through the literature of Robert Dean Frisbie. The uninhabited atolls of Manuae, Suwarrow and the island of Takutea are visited only occasionally to monitor the marine and wildlife sanctuaries established there.
Something you will find wherever you venture in our islands is the warm hospitality and friendliness of the people, who are always interested in sharing local culture and learning of other lands and customs.