Category Archives: Cook Islands

The Cook Islands: Hawaii’s Quieter, Overlooked Cousin

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Tropical Bliss…

The Cook Islands are a fantastic destination for travelers looking for a secluded tropical island experience.

Named after Captain Cook, the 15 islands boast stunning lagoons, moderate tropical weather, and a friendly “Ki Orana” spirit.

Most folks head to the Southern Cook Islands, especially Rarotonga and Aitutaki. The country is still undeveloped and the beaches uncrowded, even in peak season. They’ve have been compared to what Hawaii used to look and feel like 50 years ago.

At the Punanga Nui Cultural Market, sample the music, dance, cuisine and songs of the islands. Plus learn how to make local crafts like hat-weaving, lei-making, ukulele-carving and more. Open weekdays 8AM to 4PM, but the best events are on Saturday.

Cook Island Fun Facts

– It’s forbidden for any building to be higher than the tallest coconut palm!

– Local currency is the New Zealand dollar — great value for the cost

– Even though they’re technically part of New Zealand, the islands are self-governing

– Just 30 minutes from the plane to the beach

– Languages: English and Maori

– Only 20,000 inhabitants!

– A great alternative to the more expensive Tahiti

Willamette Intl Travel has sent clients on unforgettable holidays to the Cook Islands, and some even come back for their 2nd or 3rd time!


Suggested Itineraries:

Plan your trip to the Cook Islands around a New Zealand and/or Australia getaway!

6 nights/7 days on the Cook Islands:

Spend a romantic vacation under palm trees, fishing, swimming and motorcycling — the ideal recipe for an idyllic getaway.


12 nights Cook Islands + New Zealand:

Fly from Vancouver, San Francisco or Los Angeles into the Cook Islands for 4 nights. Get used to the jet lag and lie on a tropical beach; Soak your skin in the sun and your toes in the sand! Then hop on a plane over to Auckland for a trip in Kiwi central.


16+ nights Cook Islands + Australia:

Spend the 4 nights / 5 full days then fly on to Sydney on the nonstop Air New Zealand flight. Spend as many nights exploring the Land Downunder, then fly over to New Zealand in a spectacular Pacific Adventure.

When to Go?

The Cook Islands are gorgeous year-round, but the shoulder months of April, May, September and October are optimal.

Before you Go: An Adorable Video

We absolutely adore this 12-minute video from Tourism Cook Islands! It will tell you everything you need to know about why you should visit the Cook Islands soon!

Read More:

Our Overview of the Cook Islands

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Filed under Cook Islands, Europe

Cook Islands

Today we’re wrapping up our week-long blog visit to the Pacific in spiritu with the Cook Islands! Call our office or email us to find out more about these island destinations!

Photo by Philby, Creative Commons

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands is an archipelago composed of 15 small islands, a mixture of coral atolls and volcanic islands. The majority of the population live and thrive on the largest, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, breathtaking with their stunning sands and blue lagoons. Rarotonga has only one flight per week from the US mainland—so factor in either a 5- or 12-night stay.

Seeking tropics but not sweltering humidity? The best time to go is from April to November, after the storms and cyclones have left the region, with cool winds from July to September. A popular tourist destination, the Cook Islands have a range of accommodation—to fit the budget-conscious, romantic, or luxury travelers. You just have to ask yourself two questions: “Do I want to watch the sunrise or sunset from my room?” And “Do I prefer an ocean beach or a lagoon beach?” The beauty of the islands has also been the backdrop to countless weddings and honeymoons.

Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia, Creative Commons

The Cook Islands offer a range of activities for every type of traveler. Go shopping for black pearl jewelry, take a dive cruise to one of the gorgeous lagoons, take a buggy tour, discover the Anatakitaki caves and the unique cavern Kopeka birds. Try the local cuisine, from ika mata (raw fish), umu food (food prepared in an earth oven), curried eke, octopus in coconut curry, and poke (cooked fruit pudding). As with many Polynesian cultures, the Cook Islanders have a rich heritage of storytelling, and frequently put on craft, dance and music performances.

photo by Akos Kokai, Creative Commons

Love the water? Head over to Muri Lagoon and hit the waves: swim, paddle, sail or kayak to and around the lagoon’s many motu (islands). Stroll along the lagoon’s long beach on the east side, or check out the old shipwreck. Locals call the islands’ numerous marine reserves “fish bowls”—because you can’t snorkel in them without encountering enormous schools of fish. Ocean temperatures average around 75°F, peaking at 80°F during January and February.

Nancy’s Must-Do List:

  • As your plane lands, watch for the line of locals at the runway edge, ducking at your jumbo jet blasts over them – this is serious local entertainment.
  • Ride the island bus; takes an hour to circumnavigate the island. The fare is only a few dollars. You can catch the buses in Avarua, the main town for banking, groceries, and shopping. It is also the school bus!
  • Thinking of doing just the day trip to Aitutaki? Go for at least 2 days/1 night or you will kick yourself.

Did you know? The Cook Islands Maori language is closely related to both Tahitian and New Zealand Maori, and by extension, Hawaiian!

Our agents Barb, Nancy and Pam have all been to the Cook Islands and would love to share their knowledge with you! Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email


Filed under Cook Islands, Oceania, Where in the World is the WIT Client?