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The Joy of Travel

Tropical bliss

Everyone dreams of visiting a South Pacific Island one day. There’s the famous ones like Tahiti or Fiji but today I’d like to focus on one particular gem...The Cook Islands!

A spectacular mixture of coral atolls, volcanic islands, ideal climate and a wonderfully warm and hospitable culture. Peace and relaxation are a guarantee as even the most Type A personalities adjust to “island time”.

The largest island, Rarotonga is reached on bi-weekly flights from LAX on Air New Zealand. This main island is only 32km in circumference and is easily circumvented by bicycle or scooter in a couple hours or less. White sand beaches and quiet lagoons offer incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities. The vibrantly clear waters are home to a huge variety of sea life including sea turtles, colourful fish and beautiful coral formations.

Equally as important to the “allure” of the Cook Islands are the locals themselves. Friendly, high-spirited and welcoming, the Islanders are considered to be the best entertainers of all of Polynesia! Music plays an integral part of every child’s upbringing and dance is revered as an important life skill. Festivals throughout the year showcase the competition between the islands to produce outstanding performers and is part of the national pride. You can find nightly performances of local musicians at virtually every hotel and will always find a willing instructor to teach you one of the local dance steps!

No visit to the Cooks can be complete without learning about the Black Pearls! A slightly misleading misnomer as it's the shell that's actually black! The pearls themselves come in a dazzling multitude of greens, silvers and blues! Prices range from $25 - $25,000! A number of vacation packages to the Cook Islands at times come with an included “pendant” as a gift!

Sister island to Rarotonga is the smaller Aitutaki. Long believed to be the ultimate honeymoon spot, Aitutaki is simply the most beautiful place I personally have ever been. It is surrounded by a coral reef and a number of deserted islets. Most famous of these islets is One Foot Island which was featured as the location for one of the Survivor series. It is a 45 minute flight via Air Rarotonga.

Accommodations on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki are small and locally owned for the most part. There are no major hotel chains and advance reservations are highly recommended. This is not a place to “drop in on”! The Pacific Resorts are a luxury retreat represented on both islands but there are accommodation choices for every budget and preference. The emphasis is on pre-booking!

When you compare the Cooks to other South Pacific destinations such as Tahiti, Fiji and Hawaii you will be pleasantly surprised to see that it is very economical in comparison. Local restaurants and markets offer excellent variety and price points and the effervescent hospitality of your hosts will make every day one filled with smiles and laughter!

Unsurpassed beauty, idyllic climate, no traffic, no cell phones, no worries ….. The Cook Islands are a true Paradise!

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About the Author

Joy McGinnis has been a professional travel consultant for over 25 years.  Her personal love of travel is obvious to her clientele and she truly enjoys creating unique and memorable vacation experiences for them.  "The Joy of Travel" is a collection of her travel exploits, helpful hints and valuable insights into many of today's top travel trends.

 

You can contact Joy by e-mail:  [email protected]







The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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