I already told you about my vacation to the Cook Islands. In this post I´d like to share some information and tips with you for planing your trip to Aitutaki and Rarotonga – two of the Cook Islands.
General information for a trip to the Cook Islands
How to get there: From Sydney / From Auckland to Avarua on the main island of Rarotonga. From there you can fly to other islands with Air Rarotonga
Visa: Issued when you arrive on site. Expires 31 days (current status). Please check if there are any other regulations for your nationality
Transportation: On Aitutaki the main means of transportation is the good old scooter or motorcycles, which you can rent anywhere, even in your accommodation. There are very few cars and there is no public transportation.
In Rarotonga two bus lines are operating, which circle the largest road around the island. The one bus clockwise and the other counterclockwise. Information on the bus times and stops are available in Hotels, Post Offices and the Airport (Visitor Guides). If you want to jump on a bus you just have to wave briefly (sometimes even possible wherever you want). The ticket (one for 10 rides may be used by several people) can be purchased directly from the driver.
Currency / Money: Payment will be made in the Cook Islands with the New Zealand Dollar. Additionally, there are also special coinages from the Islanders. An even triangular form. Very cute and well suited as a souvenir, but: They are not accepted in New Zealand!
On Aitutaki you might have some difficulties to get cash, so the best is to get already enough on Rarotonga. Here you can find an ATM at the airport. Depending on the bank or credit card you are using, you have to reckon with fees here. Personally, I had to pay six extra Dollar when withdrawing cash with my New Zealand bank card.
Internet: The Internet is supplied through diverse hotspots. To be able to connect to those, you can buy volume, for example in the post office or possibly even in the hotels. Logically the connection is only really good when you are near to a transmitter. In some hotels, of course, is Internet is provided.
Accommodation and Meals on the Cook Islands
Aitutaki: Paradise Cove Lodge, Amuri
+ Location right on the beach
+ Scooter hire
+ Help with booking tours
+ Free transfer from / to airport
+ Balcony with sea view
– No air conditioning
– Defective insect screens
– Lack of taking care of palm trees
If you fly to the Cook Islands, you obviously wish pure relaxation. This won´t happen with discomfort due to no air conditioning (during pure heat) or ants and other critters in bed, because the screens on doors and windows have holes. I’m not a Palm expert, but one of the locals told us that the ones right next to our hut actually needed to be trimmed, so that they would not constitute a danger to life. That unfortunately never happened so it was unpredictable when the next coconut rushes down. Nevertheless, it must be said that this is only a snapshot and these “cons” may also be easily fixed (and perhaps it was already the case).
One should also take into consideration, that there is only a small supermarket in Aitutaki and selection is minimal and quite expensive. To support the local economy and to interact a bit with the locals I think it’s great to stop by and to leave a few dollars. However, to handle some days by the offers of this shop is not really possible. This should also be considered when choosing the accommodation and the included meals.
The people and the lovingly crafted Breakfast at Paradise Cove Lodge is certainly a plus. If you have only a small budget, this property is worth a thought. In the evening you can also enjoy snacks alongside cocktails in the small bar right in front of your cabin. All framed by a stunning sunset.
I’m a backpacker who has also no problems to sleep in shared rooms if you go somewhere on a low budget. But, I would clearly give the hint to spend some more money on accommodation for your dream holiday on the Cook Islands.
Rarotonga: Muri Lagoon View Bungalows / Muri Beach Club Hotel
+ Lots of space
+ Very courteous staff
+ Own washing machine (bungalows)
+ Great view (bungalows)
+ Beach location (Hotel)
+ Free kayaks, SUP, Sun Lounger (Hotel)
+ Breakfast (Hotel)
– Fee transfer from / to airport
On Rarotonga, it is certainly not a problem to find a place to stay, because the selection is a lot bigger than on Aitutaki. As mentioned in the post about our trip, we originally booked a Muri Lagoon View Bungalow and have been very happy there. A plus point was certainly the own washing machine. Self-catering was absolutely no problem, as there are several small supermarkets, but also a greater one (which looks like a warehouse).
After our upgrade to Muri Beach Club Hotel, we even had breakfast included. In addition, you could rent free SUP boards and kayaks to explore the lagoon. The sun lounger on the beach, which is right outside the hotel, were also included in the price. By the way, the Muri Beach Club Hotel organizes weddings as well 😉
The rooms are large and clean and the staff very helpful and friendly. In summary, our accommodation on Rarotonga was perfect.
The highlight of the Cook Islands: The Aitutaki Lagoon
When visiting Aitutaki you definitely have to experience a trip to the lagoon. There are numerous operators which mostly differ only in the boats and the group size. We chose the cheapest and were absolutely happy. Even if you only travel to Rarotonga, you can book a day trip to the lagoon. Don´t be shocked by the price as it is logically more expensive as you have to make the way to Aitutaki anyway.
If you like to plan in advance, simply visit the website of Air Rarotonga to get all the information and book your trip.