June 9, 2023

These South Pacific islands are charming, clean, safe, and friendly

“Island night” festivities are common on Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, usually offering performances of fire dancing and hula.
Made up of 15 tiny islands in the South Pacific, it’s easy to overlook the Cook Islands, given that destinations like Fiji and French Polynesia maintain a higher profile. But that would be a mistake. Charming, clean, safe and friendly, there are so many reasons to visit the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands offer some of the best features of island vacations: year-round comfortable climates similar to Hawaii, and natural beauty comparable to the neighboring Society Islands. The islands can be reached in about 9 ½ hours from Los Angeles, or 2 ½ hours from Auckland, New Zealand.

The main gateway to the Cook Islands is Rarotonga Island, which is only about 20 miles all the way around. Rarotonga’s small size makes it very accessible, and hourly buses traverse the island’s circumference passing points of interest and a number of hotels. Near Avarua, the main town, check out the Saturday morning Punanganui market to taste delicious treats and shop for local treasures.

Aitutaki Island can be reached by a 45-minute flight from Rarotonga, and is well worth the expense of getting there. This well-manicured, well-maintained destination could be one of the most beautiful islands on earth. The extremely romantic island feels remote but not deserted – the perfect atmosphere for a honeymoon.
Be sure to take in cultural events on both islands, including the common “island night” festivities that often include fire dancing and hula performances.

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