The Cook Islands are composed of 15 islands. Tourists reach the
islands through the international airport on the island of Rarotonga. Aitutaki is a popular island to fly to from Rarotonga. The Cook
Islands were first settled by Polynesians who are thought to have come from
Tahiti. In the early 1600s the Portuguese and Spanish began
exploring the area. Captain Cook arrived in 1773 and again in
1777. The islands affiliated with Britain in the late 1880s and
became predominantly Christian. The Cook Islands gained
independence from New Zealand in 1965 and are self governing today.
They have a permanent population of under 20,000 in total for all the
Although English is the predominant language today, Cook Islands Maori
(Rarotongan) is also an official language commonly spoken by the
Maori ethnic base. There are also a number of other dialects
spoken among the islands. Linguistically there are close ties to
Maori and to Tahitian.
Kia Orana - hello ("Ia Orana" in French Polynesia).
Aere ra - goodbye
Meitaki - thank you
A travel visa is not required for most countries whose citizens visit the Cook
Islands for tourism. Visitors from New Zealand do not
have to prove that they have made arrangements to leave the islands.
Check your specific country at VisaHQ
or search the Cook
Island Foreign Affairs & Immigration department web page for
The Cook Islands use the New Zealand Dollar but they also have their own local
currency which it is pegged at par with the New Zealand dollar.
Make sure you convert any local currency back to New Zealand dollars
before you leave unless you are keeping it as a souvenir.
The warm weather and isolation of the western South Pacific make
the Cook Islands a popular tourist destination. Although
temperatures are consistently comfortable on a year round basis, the
rainier season from November to May tend to make June to October the most popular time to visit.
In the rainy season there is high humidity and mornings are often
clear. The Cook Islands are actually south of the equator, so technically the
slightly better weather months are in their winter. Hotels in the Cook Islands are expensive
but they tend to be competitive with French Polynesia because of the close association of the Cook Islands with New Zealand and its currency.
Access by air to the Cook Islands is through the Rarotonga International Airport
(RAR) on the island of Rarotonga. Air New Zealand is the main airline
providing service and it has regular flights to Tahiti, Los Angeles, Auckland and Sydney. Most cruise ships don't visit the Cook Islands as
Fiji, Samoa and French Polynesian are more accessible cruise destinations.
Paul Gauguin Cruises
does visit Rarotonga and Aitutaki regularly though.
Savor the Tastes of the Cook Islands:
Ika Mata - raw fish marinated in salt, lemon or lime, coconut cream
with some tomato or and veggies thrown in to make a salad.
This is the Cook Islands' version of French Polynesian poisson cru.
Moana Roa Mahimahi - fish poached in coconut cream and served on greens.
Matu rori - sea cucumbers cooked with sauted onion and garlic, served with bread or cooked root vegetables.