Welcome to TierOne Travel’s “Best Romantic Destinations” series, where we will be highlighting the most romantic places to travel for couples, as recommended by our own experienced travel agents!
Next up in our series is Cook Islands, a romantic getaway destination straight out of your dreams. Cook Islands is the perfect place for embracing every moment with the one you love, as recommended by TierOne Travel Consultant, Melanie Hersom.
Read on to learn about why an Cook Islands is the perfect romantic travel experience for you and the one you love.
What makes Cook Islands an unforgettable destination for a romantic getaway?
Rarotonga is about 30km in circumference, surrounded by a lagoon, with crystal clear turquoise waters and palm tree-adorned sandy beaches. The local people make this a destination unforgettable, as they are warm and friendly, and always excited to share their Maori culture and traditions.
Who do you recommend this destination to?
The Cook Islands is a perfect romantic escape for couples who want to explore the islands, or do nothing more than swinging together snuggled up in a hammock. Whether you’re celebrating love, an anniversary or a special birthday, you won’t be disappointed if you choose Cook Islands for that special getaway.
When is the best time to go to the Cook Islands?
The dryer months are April to October, with an average temperature of 26C. November to March is slightly warmer and more humid, with some rain expected in January and February.
I traveled in June and the weather was great – warm sunny days, comfortable evenings and no rain! It wasn’t a busy time for tourists so it was easy to book last minute tours, and restaurants weren’t crowded.
What are some activities / things to do in the Cook Islands for couples?
You can snorkel right off the beach at your hotel or try a sea scooter safari tour for an effortless way to explore the coral and sea life.
Maybe you’d like to learn or master a stand up paddle board. You can put these skills to work in a SUP yoga class or a nighttime paddle tour. I really enjoyed paddling on the lagoon on a very starry night. It was so bright that we didn’t even turn on the coloured lights that are on the SUP. To make this a romantic experience, you could have a board for 2.
On the land, you can join a quad tour that operates rain or shine. These tours venture through muddy and rocky terrains, crossing streams to remote areas of the island’s jungle and enjoy a relaxing swim in freshwater creeks.
There’s a number of tours that offer the opportunity to fully experience local life, culture, food and handcrafts. Pa’s Herbal Walk offers insight into the culture of his ancestors, as well as some practical applications for the many fauna and flora found along the walk. Storytellers Cycle tours provide a great knowledgeable about the local culture, history and environment and enjoy sharing their love of Polynesian heritage while biking around the island. One of my favourites was Backyard Tours, where we got to meet talented locals, see how they make their products and learn more about their culture. We went to about 8 to 9 vendors on the tour, and even visited some of their homes to see them in action in their own backyards. This tour was more than just shopping – we met a talented and artistic wood carver, watch ukuleles being made, learned how Cook Island pearls are different from Tahitian pearls and even learned how cold-pressed coconut oil is made.
Island hop to Aitutaki on a 50 minute plane ride, or better yet, stay for a couple of nights. Enjoy a catamaran cruise including a tasty barbecue lunch. We stopped at several motu (small islets) including One Foot Island (I got my passport stamped and sent a postcard. You can even get married here if you want!) and snorkeling with big fish and giant clams.
What are some resorts or places to stay that you recommend?
No hotel in the Cook Islands is taller than a coconut tree! There are many options from budget hotels, to 5 star hotels, including self-catering options. My personal favourites are any of the Pacific Island Resorts, especially the one on Atutaki. I had a beachfront bungalow that had a big deck with daybeds, steps from the beach where my hammock was hanging.
Sea Change Villas have great beach front villas with a private pool providing complete privacy providing every conceivable indulgence for a perfect, Cook Islands honeymoon or vacation.
Muri Beach Club Hotel is a 30-room adults-only property. The location on the doorstep of Rarotonga’s aquatic playground gives you the opportunity to weave more activity into your holiday. Treddlecat, kayak, SUP or simply swim across the lagoon to one of three private motus right out the front of the hotel.
Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort is truly unique. This exclusive all-bungalow resort is also the only private island resort in the Cook Islands and is the only one to offer over-water bungalows. If you stay too long in town and miss the last boat to the resort, they leave you a canoe so you can paddle yourself ‘home’! It’s not far and doable in the dark – not that I had to do it.
What type of budget should a couple expect for a getaway to Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands uses New Zealand dollars, with an exchange rate usually about the same as the Canadian dollar. It’s a more affordable Pacific island destination. Roundtrip airfare from Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver and 5 nights accommodation at Sea Change Villas starts at $2650 per person.
What are the current COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols in the Cook Islands?
Currently, the Cook Islands are not open to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The islands, with a total population of 17,459, have remained completely corona-virus free, after closing its borders to the rest of the world.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start researching and planning! And once the Cook Islands are open again for tourists, I would love to help you book your trip. This is a truly memorable, beautiful and safe destination that is worth splurging on for your next post-pandemic vacation!
Cook Islands is a great destination on it’s own, even though many use it as a stop-over on a trip to New Zealand. I think it’s a great destination for a 7 to 10 day trip.
ABOUT TIERONE TRAVEL CONSULTANT: MELANIE HERSOM
I’ve been a travel agent for over 30 years; I’d like to be able to tell you that I was 5 years old when I started, but that’s just a dream! I’ve visited all the continents except Antarctica and I’m hoping to travel there soon.
I believe my job is to take care of you in your travels – booking what you want (or need) and getting the most value for your travel dollars. I like crafting your perfect vacation instead of trying to fit you into an existing itinerary. I actually become excited when it all fits together into what you envision.
I enjoy fabric crafts, have done batik in Indonesia and Japan, and have been known to visit quilt shops in my travels. But now that I have a grandchildren, we spend time going to the park or story time at the library.