Welcome to the Cook Islands, an idyllic Paradise comprised of 15 islands scattered over 2.2 million sq. kilometres in the South Pacific. Located approximately half way between New Zealand and Hawaii the Cook Islands are generally accessed via New Zealand with daily flights servicing the main Island of Rarotonga, which also happens to be the capital. There is also one return flight a week from LA to Rarotonga. The Cooks are a mix of crystal clear coral atolls and volcanic Islands with dense green tropical bush and sparkling white sand, the perfect combination for a South Pacific island getaway.
The Islands of Rarotonga and Autitaki are key destinations and have the most infrastructure, offering luxury resorts and accommodation at both destinations. There are resorts on the remaining islands but the main concentration lies with Rarotonga and Autitaki respectively.
Rarotonga is a relatively small Island with a total circumference of 32kms or almost 20 miles and with a population of around 14, 000 people life is pretty quiet and relaxed in the capital of the Cook...
The sweet smell of Frangipani fragrance is often one of the first impressions of Aitutaki when you arrive - the smell of Frangipani is synonymous with Aitutaki. The island is located only 220 kilometres...
Rarotonga is the international gateway for the Cook Islands and currently can only be accessed through Auckland, New Zealand every day and Los Angeles once per week. Changes are supposed to be taking place soon that will include direct flights from Sydney and or via Fiji, however we cant provide a definite date on this nor exact details. Currently Auckland is the gateway to the Cook Islands and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
Auckland is a direct 12-13 hour flight from the West Coast of the United States and the Cook Islands a further 4 hours from Auckland. The main current carriers to the Cook Islands include Air New Zealand, Virgin Airlines and United Airlines along with another couple of code sharing airlines. The high or peak season is observed from April to November.
Flying Times to Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Los Angeles, USA: 9.5 hrs
When is the best time to visit the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands can be visited year round and is warm all of the time with minor variations throughout summer and winter. The winter temperatures range from 18c to 28c during May to October and in summer from 21c to 29c during November to April. Generally speaking the winter months are the best time to visit as there is less chance of rain and humidity.
What language do the locals speak?
English is spoken in the Cook Islands.
How long is the flight?
You can currently only fly from either Auckland every day (the gateway) or the United Sates once per week, at this stage you have those two choices. From Los Angeles the flight takes 9.5 hours and from Auckland New Zealand the flight is 4 hours.
Where are the international airports located in the Cook Islands?
There is only one International Airport in the Cook Islands and this is located in the capital of Rarotonga.
Do I need a passport or visa to enter the Cook Islands?
A bona-fide visitor (any person who enters the Cook Islands solely for recreation or vacation/holiday), does not require an entry permit, provided he/she possesses proof of onward passage (booked and paid) for stays of not more than 31 days. Extension permits are usually granted for visitors wanting to stay over 31 days. All visitors are required to have a valid passport, proof of onward passage, adequate financial means of supporting stay, and suitable accommodation. Applications can be made upon arrival at the Immigration Department. Extensions are granted on a monthly basis, up to 5 additional months only. A fee is payable with each application within 14 days before the expiration of the permit. Extensions are granted at two levels: Up to three months NZ$70.00 (15 years and older), up to five months NZ$120.00 (15 years and older). Children under 15 years of age are exempt from charges but must report to Immigration for official paperwork to be completed. Those wanting to stay in the Cook Islands longer than 6 months must apply for a visa from their home territory, before their arrival in the Cook Islands.
Can I use my mobile or hire one in the Cook Islands?
Yes the main parts of the Cook Islands support the GSM 900 and 1700 networks, however please check with your provider first regarding roaming and data charges as they can be exorbitant.
Do I need an international license to drive in the Cook Islands?
International driving licenses are not accepted in the Cook Islands you have to purchase one from the local police station for NZ$20. In order to get one you must be over 21 and have a current drivers license. Fill in the form and they take a photo of you and you're on your way. If its a scooter you want to ride then it's a driving test! But wait it's not too bad! You have to successfully navigate around the only roundabout in Rarotonga and then you'll be on your way. Remember to drive on the left hand side of the road as in New Zealand and Australia.
Do I need vaccinations to enter the Cook Islands?
Standard vaccinations are recommended along with staying current on any diseases present. We suggest visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up to date information.
Do I need to tip in the Cook Islands?
Tipping is not expected in the Cook Islands and is contrary to custom.
What are the taxes in the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands has a VAT (Value Added Tax) of 12.5%.
What clothes should I take?
Casual is the name of the game here. It's pretty warm in this part of the world so you can leave your pullovers at home! Shorts, cotton shirts, t-shirts and linen are excellent in the heat. Oh and don't forget your swimming suits.
Polynesian migration began as early as 1500BC when the Cook Islands were gradually populated by Maori who landed in their giant canoes. Around 800 AD voyagers came from French Polynesia and arrived in Rarotonga. Apart from a visit from the Spanish explorers Alvaro de Mendana in 1595 and Pedro Fernandex de Quiros in 1606 it was quiet until around 1773 when Captain James Cook visited the area. Christian missionaries arrived a few decades later in 1821 and that changed the way of life for many Polynesians although their many traditions have been preserved.
Originally the Cook Islands were named the Hervey Islands after a British Lord, although it was the Russians that named them the Cook Islands after the famous captain in 1823. In 1888 the Cook Islands became part of the British Domain because of fears the France may claim them first. The country today is self governing with free association with New Zealand which also overseas defense of the area. In 1980 a treaty with the United States of America in which claim to the islands of Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Manihiki and Rakahanga was surrendered by the US and a treaty with France delimited the boundary between the Cooks and French Polynesia in 1990.
We offer a range of luxury vacations within the Cook Islands and can also combine New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti and Tahiti and Fiji. You can select from our range of ready made packages or have us create a Fiji. You can select from our range of ready made packages or have us create a tailored Cook Island vacation especially for you. Please go to our Cook Islands luxury vacations / holidays section to view our range of luxury vacation packages. Or simply contact us to start planning your tailored Cook Island vacation now!