Travel tips: 20 reasons to love the Cook Islands

Craig Tansley
Photography By
Craig Tansley

Here are Craig Tansley's first two reasons why you will fall in love with our little paradise.


All 2 million square kilometres of ocean surrounding the Cook Islands are a whale sanctuary – and from July to October you can't get closer to humpback whales. You don't even have to get on a boat to see humpbacks up close, on the north coast of Rarotonga (where the reef is closest to shore), whales come within a few hundred metres of shore. You'll also see them up close from bars and restaurants built along the waterfront of Rarotonga's sleepy capital, Avarua. Visit the Whale & Wildlife Centre run by a world-leading whale expert, +682 21666;, or view them from a boat,


There's no better – or safer – place to hire a scooter. The speed limit in Rarotonga is a leisurely 50km/h (40km/h if you're not wearing a helmet), and there are no traffic lights, peak hours, or traffic jams. What's more, it's easy to navigate your way around, and the roadside views are spectacular – there's a bitumen road that follows the coast the entire way around the island,


Craig Tansley is a freelance travel writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Craig grew up in the Cook Islands and travels throughout Polynesia and the South Pacific each year. He now writes for many of Australia’s most prestigious newspapers and magazines – writing regularly for everyone from the Australian Financial Review to the Sydney Morning Herald and International Traveller.