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The Cook Islands are scattered over 2 million square kilometres and lie right in the middle of the South Pacific. The actual land mass of 241 square kilometres is very small, but what the Cook’s lack in size, they make up in brilliance. Named after the famous Southern explorer Captain Cook, these islands are a treasure trove from their sandy beaches lined with coconut palms to their mountainous interiors covered with dense rainforests harbouring exotic tropical birds. However, it is not just what is on land that entices visitors to these stunning islands. Unbelievable game fishing lures anglers from around the globe and the diving and snorkelling is world class. A word of warning though, many who have come for a visit have stayed a lifetime.
With such a perfect climate and beautiful water it is easy to understand the local saying “Cook Islands people are born of the sea”. Here, in fact, most activities are connected to the sea: there are safe places for snorkelling, swimming and diving for all ages and abilities. Rarotonga’s lagoon, around Muri lagoon, Aro’a Beach, Black Rock and Titikaveka are all excellent beaches. The Muri lagoon, in particular, is one of the Cook Islands´ most beautiful locations. It is fantastic for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and windsurfing. All of the islands have wonderful individual experiences – enjoy, learn and be captivated by the natural charm of the Cook Islands.
”We live to eat, not eat to live!” This is a popular saying you will hear said time and again by the Cook Islanders. If you enjoy your food, you will take great pleasure in the Cook Islands. Food is the essence of life, and with the seas of the South Pacific lapping at their door and fertile volcanic soils producing fine produce, dining at any level is sure to be enjoyed.
The island of Rarotonga is the premier cafe location – cafes are scarce or non-existent on the outer islands. There is a good selection across the island serving a variety of coffee and snacks during the days with a number at fair budget prices suitable for the discerning traveller. Some are open even until late at night to cater for the after pub trade.
A highlight of the Cook Islands is sipping cocktails at a bar fronting the west as the sun slowly slips below the horizon – there is truly no better way to say farewell to a very special day in paradise. The later night life of the Cook Islands is steadily growing with Friday night remaining the main night out for both tourists and locals alike. Most bars on Rarotonga remain open till 02:00. Do not expect the same late night on Saturday as the Cook Islanders are a Christian community and usually close all drinking establishments on the stroke of midnight. Furthermore, many of the resorts have their own bars and restaurants at which non-guests are welcome.
One of the best things about shopping in the Cook Islands is the variety of traditional arts and crafts. Passed down over generations, these are much sought over. Basketwork, Rito hats, shell jewellery, carvings and musical instruments head the list. Unfortunately, as with most other countries across the globe, cheap imports do filtrate, so be mindful!
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