A Week in The Cook Islands

In many ways the Cook Islands are a microcosm of the South Pacific. Here in a small space are people as friendly as the Fijians, beautiful islands similar to those in French Polynesia, exposure to Polynesian culture rivaling that in Samoa and Tonga, and lots of outdoor activities. In other words, here you can easily see most of what the islands have to offer in 1 week. Since Rarotonga is less than a 2-hour flight from Tahiti, 3 from Fiji, this week can easily be added to your Fiji or French Polynesia visits.

Day 1: Arrival & Recovery on Rarotonga -- My favorite thing to do after an all-night plane ride getting here is to head into Avarua for a cup of strong coffee at The Cafe, then a stroll around the Cooks' little capital. Be sure to visit the Cook Islands Library and Museum. Spend the afternoon recovering with a swim or a sail at Muri Beach.

Day 2: Sampling Cook Islands Culture -- The demonstrations at the Cook Islands Cultural Village and its guided tour around Rarotonga will take most of this day. Later on don't miss one of the region's best island nights, featuring a feast and a lively dance show. If it's Friday or Saturday, make the obligatory "crawl" through Avarua's pubs.

Day 3: A Walk Across Rarotonga -- Plan to spend this morning hiking the Cross-Island Track, which literally traverses Rarotonga from north to south, passing the base of the famous Needle on the way. You will learn much as well as enjoy the views on a guided trek with Pa's Nature Walks. If you're not up to walking and climbing, Raro Safari Tours will take you into the interior mountains via four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Days 4-6: An Aitutaki Lagoon Excursion -- On day 4 take an early morning flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. Spend that afternoon exploring Aitutaki's main island, either on a guided tour or on your own via scooter or rental car. After sunset attend an island night buffet and dance show, preferably at Samade on the Beach. Spend all of day 5 on an excursion out on the lagoon, one of the South Pacific's most beautiful. You'll get to snorkel around tiny One Foot Island, one of my favorite things to do here. Have dinner at Cafe Tupuna. Enjoy the morning of day 6 on the beach before flying back to Rarotonga.

Day 7: Relaxing & Shopping on Rarotonga -- Spend the morning of your last day doing some shopping for black pearls, Tangaroa statues, and tropical clothing in Avarua. In the afternoon head over to Titikaveka for Rarotonga's best snorkeling.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.