Rather than waste our time during the enforced lockdowns that came with COVID – we decided that we’d approach our many suppliers and partners around the world and have them provide us with updates and info sessions about their destinations. If we couldn’t get there ourselves… the next best thing would be to have a local lead us on a virtual tour and talk to us about all the amazing things we didn’t (and sometimes did) know about the destinations.
One of the more enjoyable and informative updates we got was from Crystal Kranzs – the Marketing Manager for Cook Islands Tourism Corporation… the go to people for all things Cook Island.
Crystal began by dispelling a common misconception that there was nothing to do in Rarotonga (we knew this already).
She painted the most amazing picture of the whole island as a playground of activity, dining experiences, and culture, and at just 32km round, the island is perfect for conference participants looking to combine their ongoing educational requirement with a healthy dose of soft adventure and fun. Let’s just say, you won’t be sitting around your hotel or resort in this South Pacific paradise.
The whole of the island is surrounded by a coral reef, creating a very inviting turquoise blue lagoon with warm water year-round and plenty of tropical marine life to discover. From a simple stroll on the beach to snorkelling with a lagoon cruise, joining a night-time stand up paddleboard tour, or taking a kayak to one of the motu (small islets) for a private picnic, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the water in Rarotonga.
While water activities are an obvious choice for a tropical holiday, Rarotonga also has a mountainous interior to explore. And while there are plenty of self-guided walks and hikes available, one of the more interesting ways to discover these trails is taking a guided tour with Pa’s Trek.
A legend in the Cook Islands, Pa is a traditional medicine man who loves sharing his knowledge with locals and visitors alike. For an in-depth talk and exploration of traditional Cook Islands medicine, using the plants and herbs available on Rarotonga, Pa offers an intimate Medicine Herbal Walk for small groups. On this tour, guests will not only soak up incredible views but will also learn about the myths, legends, history, and culture of the islands.
The Cook Islands has a very vibrant Polynesian culture that is part of everyday life on the islands. You don’t have to do a cultural experience to experience the culture. If you do however want to take part in the various cultural activities, one of the most unique on the island is Cook Island Tours’ Progressive Dinner. On this dinner tour, guests are picked up from their accommodation and taken to three local homes for a different traditional dish at each stop, and as part of the journey, visitors will get a tour of a home garden, enjoy local music, and hear what life is like on the island.
Food does play a huge part in Cook Islands culture which is why you’ll find over 100 cafes, bars, restaurants, and eateries in Rarotonga, providing a good variety of local island food as well as Western cuisine.
Very similar to the likes of Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, you can enjoy a simple fish and chips plate on the beach for one meal then have a fine dining experience for the next – the choice is yours.
As everything is so accessible around the island, the prices for food and drink stay competitive, so unlike other topical island destinations, you’ll find that in the Cook Islands you’re not paying high resort prices for everything. In fact, you’ll come across heaps of happy hour options, including all-day happy hour at several establishments offering $3.50 beers, wine for $5.00 a glass, and $10 cocktails.
A very unique and safe way to bar hop on the island is the eco-friendly sunset cocktail tour with Tik-e Tours.
On this tour guests will hop on Tuk Tuks and be taken to a few beachside bars for happy hour drinks alongside a stunning sunset. During whale-watching season from July to October, you may even have the chance to see whales playing in the distance as you sip your cocktail. Talk about a destination being full of surprises!
Also brimming with absolute magic is Rarotonga’s sister island Aitutaki.
Known as having the most beautiful lagoon in the world, Aitutaki is heaven on Earth and worth a visit – yes, even just for the day. Only a 50-minute flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki can be explored over several nights or on Air Rarotonga’s Aitutaki Day Tour. On this tour, visitors have plenty of time for snorkelling and swimming amongst a variety of coral, giant trevally, giant clams, and other tropical fish. The cruise also stops at a couple of motu including the famous One Foot Island where visitors can have their passport stamped in one of the world’s smallest post offices. Whilst onboard, everyone will also enjoy a tasty fresh fish barbecue lunch with island sides, cooked right on deck. Then after an incredible day in Aitutaki, everyone is taken back to Rarotonga, just in time for dinner.
Really, no matter where you want to stay or what you want to do, Rarotonga has something for everyone. It’s one of those rare and special places that has you planning your return visit before you even leave the island.
Have you been to the Cook Islands? What was your experience like?
If you’d like to experience the Cook Islands for yourself, call or email us and we’ll gladly put together a travel package and itinerary that will knock your socks off.