Country guides Australasia
The 15 Cook Islands were formed by volcanic activity and are scattered across the south Pacific Ocean. These unspoilt Polynesian tropical gems have the combined population of around 20,000, comprised of unique and friendly people. Most Cook Islanders live on the capital island of Rarotonga, which is also where most of the 70,000-odd annual visitors stop off, arriving at the island's international airport.
Circular Rarotonga is almost completely enclosed by a reef and harbours a lagoon of clear turquoise water and white sandy beaches. The small island is dominated by a high mountain peak from where lush rain forests cascade down to the palm-fringed shore.
The commercial centre of the islands is the friendly, bustling town of Avarua on Rarotonga, which has banks, shops, and tourist facilities as well as a busy port and yacht basin. The outer islands are becoming increasingly popular for excursions, remaining largely unspoilt by tourism.
Just a 45-minute flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is the ultimate getaway destination for those who want to leave the world behind. With views of swaying palm trees, clear turquoise water, and sparkling white sand, it's no wonder that Aitutaki is quickly becoming the most popular holiday destination in the Cook Islands.
Manmade attractions include a golf course, spa, and the bars and restaurants attached to the various resorts on the island. The destination's natural drawcards are scuba diving, fishing, windsurfing, and swimming, as well as excursions to various lagoons and small islands in the reef.
The Cook Islanders have their own language and government, and enjoy a vigorous and diverse culture with significant differences between each island. Even if visitors go no further than Rarotonga, they will be ensured of a dream 'South Seas' holiday experience on the pristine beaches.