Considering Cook Islands

Jul 6th, 2003, 03:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 249
Considering Cook Islands

Hello I have been doing some reading on islands in the South Pacific. I have been trying to convince my husband not to go to Hawaii. I have never been to Hawaii and I am sure there are some nice parts..but for me I really want to experience a more "authentic" South Pacific. With that said Cook Islands might fit the bill. I, however, have never been to that part of the world. I am seeking true relaxation and a paradise feel. If the food is not so good that is okay. I just want to be able to feel as if I am truly a million miles away from home. I am hoping someone on Fodors might share with me their input..the good and the bad. If there are any other islands that you think might be more spectacular in beauty please fill me in. Thank you.
Katherine is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 04:20 AM
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Then the Cook Islands it should be. They are far enough away and you'll have an authentic S.Pacific experience.
Many people visit both Rarotonga and Aitutaki Islands. The former the island you arrive on; the latter about a 1-hour flite away.

Both are relatively quiet and people enjoy the sand, snorkling and scuba or simply pack 6-months of unread periodicals and find themselves a coconut tree and catch-up on their reading.

Rarotonga has a small town for shopping and restaurants; accommodations can be found in all price ranges, some with cooking facilities. You can rent bikes to navigate yourselves around the island, even arrange a tour to take you to interior of island.

Sunday is the day for "church" and nothing much gets done - till four years ago, tourists weren't allowed to even go swimming (since changed).

Do know that there are few airlines that fly from the States to RAR, namely Air New Zealand (from LAX) about 3 to 4 times a week depending on season, with a stop going/returning at Papaette (PPT) in Tahiti.

You'll get the best air if booking a package for the time you'll be there. If using FF miles, you need more miles to fly here than to NZ or Australia.

There are many sites on line for the Cook Islands showing hotels, tours and tour operators.

We had been planning a trip (which had to be postponed) and found you could actually get quality (best) accomm and air between islands and trans-Pacific in the range of $2,000 person for about 10-12 days. Island Bkfst (like Continental) can be included, but Lunch and Dinners are not. And being an island, can be expensive (depending on what one considers expensive).

Otherwise, these islands might just be what you're looking for. Happy researching!
Jul 7th, 2003, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 250
We are also looking to travel to the Cook Islands. I just happened to find this website today: - it's for honeymoons - but I'm going to try and see if they plan non-honeymoon type vacations to the Cooks, too. Their pricing sure sounds reasonable. Also - another good website for the Cooks: - they have links to all the accommodations on both Rarotonga & Aitutaki. Good luck!
SimoneSassett is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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Thanks for your replies. It is well within our budget. I am planning this trip for next year so I am really trying to do my homework ahead of time.
Thank God for Fodors and the internet!
It makes planning so much easier and quicker.
Again thank you for taking the time to reply.
Katherine is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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Although both Hawaii and the Cooks are each great destinations, there are considerable differences and which one is right for you depends on what exactly you are looking for (even in choosing WHICH Hawaiian Island you need to keep in mind what you are seeking).

For starters, even the smallest of the main Hawaiian Islands is much larger than the largest of the Cooks (Rarotonga)and in all honesty Hawaii has more to do - with many more structured tours, restaurants and superior shopping. Hawaii also has better water conditions for those seeking waves and wave-based activities such as surfing.

However, for those interested in swimming and snorkeling - the calm, clear lagoons of the Cooks are a better choice. In addition, the lagoons lend an exotic tranquil feel to the place that (for the most part) Hawaii just can't match. It's these uncrowded lagoons and this totally relaxed, exotic atmosphere that draws us back to the South Pacific.

Though the food is OK in the Cooks, for the most part we didn't find it exceptional. I'm sure you can find finer dining in Hawaii (though for us, that is not all that important).

Despite the higher airfare, overall, I think you will find a vacation in the Cooks may well run you less than one in Hawaii (especially when you facor in what you are getting for that price). Dining will almost certainly be cheaper in the Cooks, and accomodations as well (unless you planned on staying on a cheap package deal in Honolulu).

In conclusion, from what you are saying, it sounds like a trip to Cooks may be just what you are looking for. Not sure about your husband, as you don't mention what he wants - but unless he is a "Go, Go" type of traveler, I find it hard to imagine him not enjoying himself.

Note that the nearby islands of French Polynesia are even more beautiful and exotic than the Cooks (and with those amazing overwater bungalows!!!) - though the cost may be prohibitive. Personally however, we found the Cooks to be our favorite vacation location overall. Though not quite as beautful/exotic as FP, the Cooks are pretty darned close and are much more reasonably priced, and with (what seemed to us) much more friendly people.


PS: Our photos of all of these places (if you have not already seen them):
LordBalfor is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Just another opinion when comparing FP to the Cooks. Obviously money is a big difference. I know everyone thinks the overwater bungalows are cool, but most people who have traveled extensively, say that doing it once is enough. In my opinion, if I want to spend extra money and stay in an overwater bungalow, I'd rather do it in the Maldives, rather than in FP.

FYI - I'm also checking out They just gave me better pricing last week than Costco! I thought Costco had the cheapest pricing - but when I went to Discover Wholesale Travel, I was quoted the same itinerary for less money.

Good luck!
SimoneSassett is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 08:44 PM
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I too will be going to the cooks, and ironically we had a perfect package made to go to Maui and Kauai, and dropped it to make quickie reservations at the Pacific resorts in Raro and Aitutaki, flying via Aloha Airlines to Raro. I had a few quotes done for the Cooks, but the package I made was more to our liking, and less expensive as well(Also b/c flies out of HNL--will experience 2 days in Oahu). Anyways, I wanted to ask Simone about that Discover Wholesale Travel website--not able to bring up--is the name correct or what?
maggyfe is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 12:00 AM
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maggyfe - you're right. I just tried going on there right now, and it's down. Of course, it's midnight where I am right now, so maybe the site is being updated or something? I just spoke this afternoon again to the lady who gave us the quote, so I know they're legit. They're also highly recommended on Fodors. Hmmmm. I'll check back tomorrow.
SimoneSassett is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 09:23 AM
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Wow such helpful advice thank you, thank you and double thank you!!!
This is going to be fun to plan.
Thank you again...
Katherine is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 01:10 PM
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Hi- I just booked my Oct honeymoon to the Cook Islands through Discover Wholesale Travel. Their server was down for about 10 days so that is probably why their site didn't work. I have never used them (or a travel agent before) and I think she did a great job with our itinerary, we are going to Rarotonga for 7 days, Aitutaki for 5 days and Atiu for 3. We aren't staying at any resorts, but they picked nice places for us in our price range.
-katerine- I have been to Hawaii twice and I love the Big Island. I have never been to the South Pacific but have been dying to go for years. I am sure you will have a great time wherever you and your husband decide. Just show your husband lord balfors' photos and the image gallery on
and I think he won't be able to resist wanting to go to the Cook Islands.
sfanza is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 06:53 PM
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If you want to experience an area of the South Pacific that is rarely heard of, consider Ofu Island in American Samoa. Hawaiian Airlines flies to Tutuila, the main island, from Honolulu, then a small plane takes you to Ofu to Marge and Tito's Va'oto Lodge, the only place on the whole island to stay. There are only 10 rooms, so it's never crowded. There aren't any restaurants, bars or shopping on Ofu, just a beautiful coral reef for snorkeling. You eat whatever the kitchen prepares, no menu, and if you catch any fish they'll fix them for you. It's a wonderful place to relax and get away from commercialism. I've been to Hawaii 3 times and the Cooks twice, and the Cooks have it over Hawaii hands down, but Ofu is really my favorite. Take a couple of novels, your favorite snack foods and relax like never before.
Jul 9th, 2003, 09:45 PM
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For what it's worth I just posted a new Epinion comparing Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands (at least as I see it). If you are interested you can read it here:

LordBalfor is offline  
Jul 14th, 2003, 10:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 23
The Cooks are like Hawaii was about 75
years ago. We had a wonderful time - rented a house on Rarotonga. If you are looking for lots of "touristy" stuff and high rise hotels, you won't find them, but if you want a beautiful location, great snorkelling and a good experience, I highly recommend it. A day trip to Aitutaki is definitely worth it although I don't think there's really enough to do there to justify spending more than two-three days. The drawback is that the flight over (from LA) is extremely long - bring your pillow.
dindle is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 03:58 AM
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Read my Hawaiian report if you need any convincing at all. I throughly enjoyed Hawaii but you just can't compare it to Tahiti or anything else in the South Seas.
Jul 18th, 2003, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 666
Lord Balfor,

Finally got around to viewing your epinion...TERRIFIC analysis. I can't imagine anyone comparing the 3 places better than you did. GREAT STUFF!!!

Although I haven't been yet, I definitely plan to visit the Cooks...especially after reading your reports. I loved FP and Hawaii (Maui and Oahu so far), but I think the Cooks might fit my tastes (love snorkeling) and budget better next time.

Take care until your next vacation, and may it be soon! 8-)
bluefan is offline  
Jul 19th, 2003, 09:19 AM
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Thanks Bluefan. That document's been on the back burner for quite a few months. Finally got around to finishing it.

Just returned from a trip to New England, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, and a subsequent train ride back across Canada to Vancouver (then home to Seattle). It was terrific but we still miss the tropics.

Hope to head to the US Virgin Islands in March.

LordBalfor is offline  

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