Cook Islands - Image courtesy of Kirklandphotos & cookislandsescapes.com.au
Cook Islands Honeymoon Guide
Famous for unspoiled sugar-white beaches and a perfect year-round climate, the Cook Islands is the perfect honeymoon destination for couples wanting to celebrate their special occasion in a stunning south sea location.
Blessed with sugar-white beaches and genuine friendly Polynesian people, the Cook Islands offer all the ingredients you need for a magical honeymoon experience.
Relax on the beach, swim and snorkel in multihued lagoons teeming with colourful reef fish and be pampered with a range of creature comforts at a choice of intimate beach resorts that specialise in honeymoon packages.
The Cook Islands comprise 15 islands, of which Rarotonga, Aitutaki and ‘Atiu are the largest and offer the widest choice of honeymoon accommodation.
The distant Cook Islands of Penrhyn and Manihiki are renowned for stunning black South Sea pearls – the perfect Cook Islands' honeymoon memento and easily found in the shops of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Often compared to the Tahitian island of Bora Bora, Aitutaki is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the South Pacific and one of the most exquisite lagoons in the Cook Islands (if not the world).
Aitutaki is surrounded by a necklace of tiny motus (islets) and turquoise water that teems with rainbow-hued reef fish.
The more than 21 tiny uninhabited motus are easily explored by boat where you may wander hand-in-hand through ankle deep water at low tide from the powder-white sands of one tiny motu to another, snorkel crystalline water, hand-feed colourful tropical fish and enjoy a magical sunset cruise with your sweetheart.
Several palm-fringed sugar-white beaches merge into lush rainforest that blankets the slopes of Mount Maugnapu.
Hike trails though the tropical rainforest or hire a bike to explore the island’s sleepy villages and authentic Polynesian South Pacific lifestyle on your very own honeymoon adventure.
More about Aitutaki Island…
Discover a small, circular island ringed by pristine, palm-fringed sugar-white beaches that edge mountain slopes covered in lush rainforest – similar to the South Pacific island of Tahiti or the Hawaiian island of Maui. (Fortunately, the Cook Islands are a less-expensive honeymoon alternative!)
Rarotonga offers a wide range of activities for honeymoon couples, including scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, game fishing and hiking.
Unmask the lagoon’s underwater beauty in a glass-bottomed boat, from behind a snorkel mask or scuba dive the Matavera drop-off and Ngatangiia swim-throughs.
On land, experience the unspoiled rainforest and stunning coastal views from more than a dozen marked trails once used by Cook Islands warriors.
The south and east coasts of Rarotonga offer some of the best beaches for swimming and snorkelling, while the west coast is more sheltered (being on the leeward side of the island) and offers magical tropical sunsets.
More about Rarotonga…
The third largest of the Cook Islands is known for beautiful limestone caves and a coastline of low 6m-high cliffs indented with secluded sandy coves – perfect for a secluded swim followed by a romantic picnic with panoramic views overlooking the South Pacific Ocean.
Atiu is famous for its range of exotic birds including the white-capped noddy, the great frigate, the tavake and the brown bobby – all easily seen at the Takutea Bird Sanctuary. Or spot the rare kopeka bird in its natural habitat at Kopeka Cave in the Makatea Forest – perfect for honeymoon couples who relish eco adventures.
What to do and see
The Cook Islands offer a wide choice of things to do from scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing and sea kayaking to hiking, game fishing and whale watching – perfect for active couples on a romantic honeymoon holiday.
The main island of Rarotonga offers more than a dozen marked trails, including: the popular Cross Island Trek that takes you along paths once used by ancestral warriors; Pa’s Mountain Walk through tropical rainforest to Raemaru Lookout and Papua Waterfall; and the Ikurangi Trek with the added opportunity for rock climbing.
Nature lovers can take a guided walk through the Takitumu Conservation Area to admire local flora and fauna including rare orchids and the endangered Kakerori bird.
On Aitutaki Island, hike up to the summit of Mount Maugnapu (124m) for great views over the lagoon. Or ask a local guide to take you on a guided walk around the rainforest. While on Atiu Island, use local roads to explore inland or circumnavigate the coast for romantic walks.
The Cook Islands offer some of the best diving in the South Pacific. Water temperature averages 25°C in July and 30°C in December with visibility up to 30m. Dive through canyons and caves, past varieties of live coral to see colourful reef fish, as well as sharks, manta rays and barracudas.
Some of the best dive sites in the Cook Islands include the Matavera drop-off, the Ngatangiia swim-throughs, Koromiri Coral Garden, the Mataora shipwreck (deliberately sunk in December 1990) and Papua Canyon (known for its eagle ray population).
Dive centres on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki islands offer a wide range of PADI scuba diving and refresher courses.
Experience excellent snorkelling at any of the raui (marine protected areas) scattered around the Cook Islands. Titikaveka Lagoon on the southeast side of Rarotonga offers one of the best spots to view colourful tropical fish and giant clams.
While on Aikutaki Lagoon, it’s easy to snorkel right off the beach as well as around the tiny atolls on the rim of the lagoon, which are easily reached on a day cruise.
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The sheltered waters of Aitutaki Lagoon and the lagoon surrounding Rarotonga (especially off Muri Beach and the south-east coast) offer excellent conditions for kayaking. Sea kayaks are generally available from most resorts.
While not known for its great surf breaks, Rarotonga Island offers some good spots: try Avana on the east coast, Rutaki Passage on the south coast and Club Raro on the north coast.
Waves typically average less than 1m to 3m all year round, depending on wind and swell directions.
It’s best to bring your own surfboard as there are no rentals here. Alternatively, Nikki’s Surf Shop in Avarua sells second-hand boards and will buy them back (depending on condition) when you leave.
The main reef off Rarotonga Island is especially renowned for game fishing while experienced crews can offer local knowledge needed to fish other spots as well as proving lessons for beginners.
Hook up a charter for mahi mahi (all year), marlin (all year but best from November to February), yellow fin tuna (all year but best from May to September), wahoo and barracuda (best from July to November).
July and October are the best times to watch humpback whales migrate through the Cook Islands.
The best spots on Rarotonga can be found at Black Rock along the west coast or Paradise Inn on the north coast. Other great viewing areas include Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro islands, where the fringing reef is close to the coast.
To learn more about whales, visit the Whale Outreach Organisation for the Pacific, at Avarua on Rarotonga.
Black pearls cultivated on the Cook Islands of Manihiki and Penryn are highly prized, as are the more common but equally beautiful golden and white pearls.
A black pearl may cost as little as five dollars up to several thousand dollars depending on colour, size, shape and lustre.
Other best buys include hand-sewn appliquéd items called tivaevae and carvings of Tangaroa, the god of the sea.
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Cook Islands sightseeing
Watch Cook Island dancers perform some of the most sensual dancing in the South Pacific, tap your feet to the beat of local karioi singing, hand-feed tropical fish in the waters off One Foot Island and treat yourself to a stunning black South Sea Pearl for the perfect honeymoon gift!
Must-see sights and attractions include…
Discover Aitutaki’s sensational lagoon in a kayak, on a cruise or wearing a snorkel mask as you float above an endless array of colourful marine life. Create footprints in the stunning white beach of Tapuaeta’i (One Foot Island), snorkel off Maina Motu and explore hand-in-hand several uninhabited motus (islets).
Admire the elaborately carved and colourfully painted woodwork and simple stained glass windows of Arutanga Church on Aitutaki Island, the oldest Christian church in the Cook Islands, built in 1828.
Peer into Kopeka Cave, the most famous of Atiu Island’s many limestone caves and named after the rare kopeka bird, found only on Atiu.
Cook Island Cultural Village
Watch demonstrations of traditional island crafts on Rarotonga Island, including weaving, coconut husking, fire making and carving. Enjoy cultural dance performances and learn more about Cook Islands culture.
See more Cook Islands attractions…
Where to stay in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands offer a wide choice of 4- and 5-star resorts with a range of comforts and activities to pamper newlyweds – all the ingredients you need for a magical honeymoon experience – including the following…
Top resorts – Aitutaki Island
Pacific Resort Aitutaki
Location: Amuri, Arutanga
Prices: from AUD1,052 per room
Description: The Pacific Resort is a luxury 5-star resort on the island of Aitutaki. This hideaway resort offers private beachfront accommodation, beautiful lagoon views and great spa facilities. Choose between the spacious beachfront bungalows or suites. All of the accommodation includes a private sun deck and beach shower overlooking the lagoon. The larger suites also offer a private garden bathroom. A full American breakfast is included in the room rate, which includes fresh tropical fruit. Guests can enjoy Pacific influenced cuisine in the hotel’s lagoon view restaurant or simply chill out at the beachfront bar. The resort also offers a Polynesian themed buffet evening with live entertainment.
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa
Prices: from AUD583 per room
Description: Situated on its own private island, this luxury resort offers beach-front and over-water bungalows with panoramic views of Aitutaki Lagoon. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, day spa and beachfront pool. Each bungalow is air-conditioned and features satellite TV, DVD player, refrigerator and a verandah with sun loungers. Bungalows with open-air showers and direct access to the lagoon are available. Tropical breakfast is included each morning, with fresh fruits, baked pastries, cereals, juice, tea and coffee. Guests at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort enjoy free windsurfing, canoeing, snorkelling and cultural activities. Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill features views over Sunset Beach. Bounty Restaurant offers seafood platters or a tasting menu with matching wines. The day spa offers massages, a sauna and a hot tub. The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa is a 2-minute ride by small private ferry from the main island of Aitutaki. Rarotonga Airport is a 45-minute flight from Aitutaki.
Etu Moana Boutique Beach Villas
Prices: from AUD434 per room
Description: Etu Moana Boutique Beach Villas offers relaxing beachside boutique villas on Aitutaki Island. Rustic wood furnishings, stunning ocean views and lovely tropical gardens add to the charm of this secluded property. Recline on the beach's sun loungers, swim in the pool or enjoy free use of kayaks, bicycles and snorkelling gear. The tour desk books car and motorbike rentals, lagoon cruises, guided island tours and diving tours. The modern Polynesian-style villas feature thatched roofs, large covered verandas and a fully equipped kitchen. Each offers local works of art, ironing facilities and a audio-visual entertainment system. The self-service Honesty Bar offers delightful drinks, while free breakfast is served at the pool side. There are also local dining options within a 10-minute walk of the property. tu Moana Villas is a 3-minute drive from Aitutaki Airport and 5 km from Aitutaki Golf Club. Guests enjoy free return airport transfers.
Top resorts – Rarotonga Island
Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa
Location: Muri, Titikaveka
Prices: from AUD1216 per room
Description: Located on the Muri Lagoon beachfront, Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa offers luxury villas, each with a private pool. Relax on the private beach, enjoy free kayaking or indulge at the spa and wellness centre. All air-conditioned villas offer a lounge area with a flat-screen TV, a DVD player and free movies on demand. They have a kitchen, a desk and ironing facilities. Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom, with fluffy bath robes and a hairdryer. All villas feature a private pool complete with a waterfall feature, surrounded by tropical gardens. You can relax on the sun loungers on your private lagoon patio or share a meal using the BBQ facilities. Other facilities include a free airport shuttle, snorkel hire, a tour desk and Wi-Fi access. Chefs can prepare a gourmet meal for you to enjoy in your villa or by the pool. Villas can be pre-stocked with food prior to your arrival and breakfast can be delivered to your room. Rumours Luxury Villas is a 10-minute walk from Muri and a 5-minute drive from Vaima Restaurant and Bar. Both Rarotonga International Airport and Rarotonga Golf Course are a 15-minute drive away.
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Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas
Prices: from AUD860 per room
Description: Inspired by the turquoise water of Muri Lagoon, Crystal Blue Lagoon boasts stylish modern villas with an idyllic beachfront location. This tranquil retreat features an infinity pool with breathtaking sea views. All villas boast a patio. Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas is within 5 minutes’ walk of local shops, cafes and restaurants. Guests enjoy free use of snorkelling gear. Upon arrival, you will receive a bottle of sparkling wine, a fruit basket and a breakfast hamper. Airport transfers can be arranged. These air-conditioned, 2-story apartments offer a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a coffee machine. The lounge area includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a selection of movies are available. Guests can share an outdoor meal using the BBQ facilities. Discounted vouchers for kayak hire and internet access are also available. Rarotonga International Airport is 13 minutes’ drive away.
Crown Beach Resort
Prices: from AUD599 per room
Description: Set on 5 acres of lovely gardens, the adults-only Crown Resort & Spa, offers luxurious suites and villas with balconies in tranquil surroundings with access to the beach. It features 2 restaurants, a scuba dive centre, fitness centre and outdoor swimming pool. Some of the many leisure activities available nearby include canoeing, diving and snorkeling. The spa at Crown Beach offers a range of relaxing treatments including massages, facials and manicures. All of the accommodation at this resort is air-conditioned and has a TV. The Oceans Restaurant & Bar offers Brasserie-style cuisine, with themed nights and a cocktail menu, on the beach with panoramic ocean views. Guests can enjoy modern cuisine in an elegant setting at The Windjammer Restaurant. Rarotonga Airport is a 7-minute drive away from the hotel. Avarua town centre is 10 minutes' drive away. There is a golf course less than 2 km from the hotel.
Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach
Location: Aroa Beach & Marine Reserve, Rutaki
Prices: from AUD264 per room
Description: Sanctuary Rarotonga offers 4.5 star, adults-only accommodation on the beachfront of Aroa Lagoon. It features a restaurant serving South Pacific cuisine, and a swimming pool with a swim-up bar. Each suite offers a private balcony where guests can enjoy views over the lagoon. All suites include an extra-large king size bed, flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Guests can indulge themselves with spa treatments at the Wellness Centre, or enjoy the natural beauty of the Aroa Marine Reserve while snorkeling and diving. A golf course is also located less than 3 km from the hotel.
Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa
Location: Aroa Beach, Rutaki
Prices: from AUD258 per room
Description: This 4-star resort, situated on a private beach, features a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool and luxury day spa. Guests can enjoy a relaxing massage on the beach. Free continental breakfast is included. The Rarotongan Beach Resort offers a range of accommodation, from rooms nestled in tropical gardens to beachfront suites. All have a balcony or courtyard, air conditioning, DVD player and refrigerator. Indulge in the “honeymoon bungalow”, which has its own private swimming pool. SpaPolynesia offers aromatherapy massages, body wraps, relaxing facials, manicures and pedicures. Te Vaka Restaurant is situated on the water’s edge, featuring themed nights and cultural shows. Captain Andy's Beach Bar serves drinks and casual meals by the pool. Free kids club activities are available. The Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve is located right in front of the resort, offering some of the best snorkelling in the Cook Islands. Rarotonga Airport is less than 10 minutes’ drive away.
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Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about resorts in the Cook Islands at TripAdvisor.
Best time to visit the Cook Islands
Anytime, but September and October are probably the best months to honeymoon in the Cook Islands, as the weather in this part of the South Pacific is not so humid averaging 28°C.
Temperatures range from 18°C to 28°C from May to October, and from 21°C to 29°C during the summer wet season, from December to March, which is typically hot and humid in the Cook Islands.
For more climate info: Cook Islands Weather Guide…
The Cook Islands form part of Polynesia and are scattered across 2 million sq km of the South Pacific, about 3500km northeast of New Zealand and 1000km southwest of Tahiti.
Air New Zealand offers direct flights from Sydney and Auckland to Rarotonga. Virgin Australia Airlines also operates direct flights to Rarotonga from Auckland.
Information on how to get to Rarotonga, Cook Islands…
More about the Cook Islands…
Latest update: Cook Islands:
18 November, 2018
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