The Cook Islands are 15 tiny specks in the South Pacific, between Samoa and French Polynesia. The inhabitants are Polynesian and the islands are both volcanic and what's known as "near atolls"—landmasses made up mostly of a lagoon fringed by little islands (motus). Rarotonga is a mini-Tahiti with jungle-covered peaks, fringing reef and lagoon; Aitutaki is the archetypal tropical paradise and appears in the majority of travel brochures. Muri Lagoon (Rarotonga) and One Food Island (Aitutaki) are dreamy spots with warm water, powdery sand, and swaying palm trees.
- Get Away From it All Rarotonga, The Cook Islands' principal landmass, is a cool 700 miles southeast of Tahiti, its nearest neighbor.
- Be Supportive, Economically Tourism is the main industry on these teeny tiny islands, providing nearly 70 percent of the country's GDP.
- Take Home a Truly Unique Souvenir If you have a driver's license elsewhere, you can get one on the Cook Islands for just NZ$20.
- Explore the Undersea Get your PADI certification or forgo it for snorkeling in the crystal clear blue waters.
- Gorge Yourself on Fruit Produce is seasonal, and when it rains, it pours; avocados, mangoes, passion fruit, guava, and oranges are all sweet, plentiful, and cheap.