We just returned home from the Cook Islands and let me say, these islands far surpassed our expectations. I felt like real life Moana and I am here for that.
We flew on the direct flight from LAX to Rarotonga, the plane landed an hour early so YAY! When we arrived at the airport they had a musician playing, immediately I was in love.
Transportation: On Rarotonga, our plan was to just use the public bus and for the first two days we stuck to that plan but on day three I convinced my husband that we needed a scooter and our lives were changed. Apparently, Lizzie McGuire was right, Scooters are the best!
Tourists: about 80% of the tourist on the islands this time of year are from New Zealand, its winter for them so it makes so much sense to escape
Cuisine: We ate very well while visiting the island. We ate freshly caught fish at least once a day and delicious exotic fruits multiple times a day.
While staying on the island of Rarotonga we stayed at the Castaway Resort. This small hotel was exactly what we wanted, about 15 rooms and a beach bar with the most beautiful sunset views. Our hotel room had a back porch that the roosters, hens, and chicks loved to visit.
One day while feeding the baby chicks at the hotel I met a little girl from the island, she immediately asked me why I was feeding the chicks because she has never seen anyone do that before. I felt like such a basic American girl at that point, but I couldn’t help it they were the cutest!
We attended the Highland Paradise Island Night and absolutely enjoyed every second of it. It’s a great opportunity to learn so much about Cook Island Maoris.
We visited the Matutu Brewery, while I absolutely recommend paying it a visit it is only open to the public during the tour hours, so if you plan on showing up at any time you will just be greeted by an empty building. During our brewery tour, the entire group was American and all booked their flights during the Air New Zealand Cyber Monday sale, so if you are listening Air New Zealand that sale REALLY worked.
Must Visit Restaurant: The Mooring; we had our very first meal there but I probably could have eaten all of my meals there. It was the place I was first introduced to Ika Mata, and really I don’t know how I lived my life without Ika Mata EVERY DAY.
Air New Zealand has one American flight in and out a week, I really appreciate this direct flight but gosh I wish I had a Saturday on Roratonga to experience the Pananga Nui Cultural Market.
Before we left back to America we went to the Hula Bar on Roratonga, this cheap bar was crawling with local residents and so much fun!!
WOOOOWWWEEEE! The most magical island I could ever have imagined. If we were to do it over again, we would spend two days on Roratonga and 5 days on Aitutaki. I really really really loved my experience there. It felt like a truly exotic island, beautiful scenery, sparsely populated and little connection to the outside world. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were back off the island by Friday morning, just not enough time. There were so many more beaches to explore and cats to meet.
A major difference that I noticed right away was the absence of dogs, Roratonga is crawling with very friendly dogs everywhere and I didn’t see one dog on the island of Aitutaki.
It’s a small island so if you are looking for a vacation with tons of restaurant and bar options, probably not the best location but if you are looking to disconnect from the world and connect with the most perfect turquoise lagoon, then look no further.
During our visit to Aitutaki, we stayed at the Kuru Club, an off the grid hotel on the lagoon near the airport. The host was so great and really made sure we were enjoying our experience.
Our favorite thing we did while on vacation was The Vaka Cruise on Aitutaki. A MUST DO. This 6-hour cruise was absolute perfection. Lunch included freshly caught fish, local fruits and vegetables and other island favorites. The boat took you to multiple islands including an extended stay at one-foot island. My favorite stop was a few hours of snorkeling in the middle of the lagoon; beautiful clear waters crawling with schools of fish.
The people of Aitutaki were just amazing, friendly and gracious and so inclusive. We would be riding our scooters down dirt roads and everyone would wave at us with a big smile on their face.
Aitutaki has many over the water bungalows, that are calling my name. I really want to plan someone’s honeymoon to The Cook Islands, specifically Aitutaki so if anyone is reading this that is planning a wedding, lets chat!
Book your ticket from LA to Rarotonga now, you wont regret it.
Overall: I give my experience a 10/10 absolutely would recommend. I really don’t understand how these perfect islands have stayed off my radar for all these years.