The Cook Islands: where age-old traditions meet next-level luxury

A six day itinerary in the Cook Islands

Scattered like dice in the South Pacific, The Cook Islands feel at once remote and tantalisingly within reach. Step back in time and discover ancient Polynesian traditions. Feel it stand still as the palm leaves dance over footprint-free beaches. And in some of the best hotels in the Cook Islands, see up-to-the-minute luxury fuse with island hospitality. Our experienced Travel Advisors have put together this inspiring itinerary, covering two of the Cook Islands’ brightest jewels. Also take advantage of our latest offer with complimentary flights between islands with Air Rarotonga, airport transfers and more… 

AT A GLANCE

• Six day independent itinerary for the Cook Islands, based on flying into Rarotonga and out of Aitutaki

• Make specially-selected SLH boutique hotels your base as you hop between two idyllic desert islands

• Highlights include traditional island performances and snorkelling with clouds of tropical fish in crystalline lagoons

START IN STYLE: RAROTONGA

Encircled by bright orange coral reefs and topped with thick mountainous jungle, Rarotonga  paints the perfect picture of a desert island. But on your first stop in the captivating Cook Islands, hang up your snorkel – and instead, dive into Rarotonga’s rich past.

By day, visit the sacred marae (traditional Maori meeting places) dotted around the island – these ancient sites are said to be the home of the gods. Arai-Te-Tonga is the most important marae on the island. Haloed by sacred rocks, the remains of this former gathering place are still visible today.

Head back towards the beach for a history lesson at Highland Paradise Cultural Centre. Experience a guided tour by descendants of Tinomana Ariki, the former sovereign of the Cook Islands. Here you’ll learn about traditional practices such as weaving, dancing and drumming. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Centre hosts island nights, where you can enjoy authentic Polynesian cooking, cocktails and a traditional stage performance telling the tale of Rarotonga’s ancient heritage.

UNPACK YOUR SUITCASE

Little Polynesian Resort, Cook Islands

Little Polynesian Resort is the stuff desert island dreams are made of.  Glide through the natural saltwater infinity pool. Step onto the private beach and kick back in a hammock under the shady palms. Or take a kayak out onto the lagoon to watch tropical fish dart about in the water beneath you. Suggested stay 3 nights.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: AITUTAKI

You’ve left no ancient stone unturned in Rarotonga. Now in Aitutaki, it’s time to lay back on the china-white sands and experience the other side to a Cook Islands escape – utter tranquillity. Take time to wind down to the pace of the land and sea itself, before discovering beguiling beaches.

Shaped like a fishhook, the main island curves around a cosmic-blue lagoon bordered by tiny, pristine islets. The water itself is brimming with wildlife, and you won’t have to delve far beneath the surface to find it. A stone’s skim from the shores of near-empty islet Maina, you’ll find some of the most spectacular fish in the lagoon. Look out for the giant trevally weaving through the coral reefs alongside vibrant yellow-and-black rainbow fish.

Tapuaeta’I, or ‘One Foot Island’ is perhaps the most famous islet in the Aitutaki atoll – vast, tropical beaches drawing sun-worshippers to its shore. Spend a day slipping from sand to sea, or snorkel in turquoise waters. You might spot giant wrasse, trevally and even prehistoric-looking giant clams.

The largely shallow waters surrounding this island make it easy to watch marine life go by. But if you’d like to swim, head to O’otu Beach at the end of the main island’s hook. This palm-dotted stretch offers glittering views out towards the rest of the island, and its deep waters are perfect for swimming and paddle boarding.

YOUR ISLAND RETREAT

Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands

From the beachfront bungalows to traditional island nights, Polynesian charm is the star of the show at Pacific Resort Aitutaki. Indulge in a massage at the Tiare Spa while listening to the waves rolling gently in the distance. Or set out to explore the lagoons and nearby islands. Suggested stay 3 nights.

TRAVEL TIPS

Take advantage of our current promotion and book our Two Island Package; including 3 nights in a Premium Beachfront Bungalow or higher room category at Pacific Resort Aitutaki, 3 nights in a Beachfront Bungalow only at Little Polynesian Resort, with complimentary round trip airfares on Air Rarotonga, for travel between the islands, NZ$100 credit per room at both hotels to spend on food and beverages, airport transfers from Aitutaki, daily breakfast at both hotels. Ask our Voice Reservation Team about this special rate. 

BOOK YOUR BOUTIQUE HOTELS

To book this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We’re ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.