You’ve been to Bali, made eyes at each other in the Maldives and frolicked in Fiji, so what’s next?
If you’re looking for an alternative island destination that’s not too far afield and promises piercing aqua seas and one of the friendliest cultures on the planet, put the Cook Islands on top of the list for your next romantic rendezvous.
TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2016 awards ranked Aitutaki and Rarotonga among the top 10 islands in the South Pacific.
“Aitutaki is a prime destination, especially for those seeking unbridled romantic ambience.”
It’s accessibility has led to an increase in visitors over the past 12 months, Cook Islands Tourism’s Noeline Mateariki says.
“We have a weekly direct flight from Sydney, daily flights via Auckland, then when you land in our little paradise, within 30 minutes (you) go from the plane to the beach.”
“It’s a true island experience,” Flight Centre customer relations social media leader Andrew Moros, who grew up in the Cook Islands, says. “The people are welcoming and it’s relatively inexpensive.”
“My favourite romantic experience would be to share a meal with my partner by the lagoon, watching the sunset,” Moros says.
“The sun sets in Arorangi (on Rarotonga), so the best place to spend the evening is in my village. Crown Beach Resort has an amazing seafood platter and is on the sunset side. Vaiana’s Bistro & Bar serves the best fish and chips ever – with a freezing cold beer on the beach.”
The best way to get around is doubling on a scooter around Rarotonga’s 32km circumference, stopping off at bays to swim and snorkel along the way so you can truly appreciate the laid-back island life.
“The driver’s licence is worth it alone,” Moros says. “You get to smile in your photo.”
“There are (also) some great hidden freshwater swimming holes (Rutaki waterfall, shhhh) around the island, which makes for a nice refreshing change to a lagoon dip,” Mateariki says.
If you’re looking for a more secluded escape, Mateariki says
Atiu is the most romantic island of
“This beautiful undiscovered island allows you to fully unwind and focus on each other,” she says.
“Atiu is home to lush, dense rainforests and stunning limestone caves. Secret coves with stunning white sand are hidden all over the island that allow for seclusion and privacy.”
WHEN TO VISIT
While the summer months are warmer with occasional tropical showers, Mateariki says there is never a bad time to visit the Cook Islands.
“The drier months, from April to November, average 26C.”
If you’re looking further into the diary, Moros suggests timing your visit to experience Te Maeva Nui – aka “The Big Celebration” – which starts on August 4. “It is an annual national celebration of our independence in 1965,” Moros says. “Locals showcase the very best of what Cook Islands has to offer from hula (dancing), pate (drumming), vaka (Cook Islands dragon boating), local cuisine, fashion and arts and craft.”
WHEN TO BOOK
Right now is the best time to book if you’re itching for a Cook Islands summer getaway.
Flights to Rarotonga are currently on sale with Virgin Australia from $410 each way from Sydney.
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