The Cook Islands is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. It has a free association with New Zealand and is comprised of 15 islands in total. These 15 islands are classified according to three: Southern Island, Northern Island and Other Island. Rarotonga is the main island out of the 15 Cook Islands. With a population count of 13,095, it is the most densely populated out of all these islands. Rarotonga also serves as the main gateway for travel to Cook Islands.
The country relies mainly on tourism to support its thriving economy. In the year 2010-2011, the country had almost 100,000 visitors. Tourism, together with fruit exports and production of pearls, serve as the main economic source of Cook Islands.
Travel Information for Cook Islands
Currency: The official currency in Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar.
Official Language(s): A large percentage of locals in Cook Islands can speak English. However, the island nation identifies Rarotongan language as its official language.
WiFi Availability: You can find WiFi hotspots and internet cafes in Rarotonga, as well as major resorts and hotels. The same thing applies in Aitutaki although public access WiFi is very rare. The quality of the WiFi is also relatively slow.
Airport/s: Rarotonga International Airport is the main gateway for international flights that travel to Cook Islands.
Visa Required? All foreigners that travel to Cook Islands for tourist purposes do not need a visa for up to a maximum of 31 days’ stay. You can also extend your stay for another 31 days, or until desired, for up to a period of 6 months. Simply inform the immigration department at least 5 days prior to the supposed expiration of your authorized stay.
Driving: In Cook Islands, you must drive on the left hand side of the road.
International Driver’s License Accepted? Previously, you need to obtain a Cook Islands license in order to legally drive in the country. But as of May 2014, foreign driver’s license can now be accepted for driving in the island.
Crime: Relatively low. There are no current travel advisories placed against Cook Islands. However, tourists are advised to take all the necessary travel precautions.
Electrical Adapters: The electrical sockets used in Cook Islands is the Type 1 Australian AS-3112. Cook Islands electrical outlets are at 240 Volts and 50 Hertz. Hence, North American tourists need to bring an electrical adapter with them.
Cook Islands Trivia: Did you know that Cook Islands is the second largest producer of black pearls in the world?
Art and Culture of Cook Islands
- The most popular sport in the Cook Islands is rugby.
- Wood carving is very common in the culture of Cook Islands. Each island featured special development in the art form of wood carving. Even though today’s young people are not as invested in the cultural and spiritual relevance of wood carving, it remains to be an integral part of the culture in Cook Islands.
- Aside from wood carving, weaving is another famous art form in Cook Islands. The locals are best known for producing hats, mats, and basketware.
- Tivaeva is the major art form in Cook Islands. This is a type of island scenery patchwork quilts created by hand. It was introduced to the Cook Islands by missionaries during the 19th century.
- Cook Islands have been the setting of various movies including Johnny Lingo, Another Shore and The Other Side of Heaven.
- The dance and music in Cook Islands take its influence from the Polynesia.
Cook Islands: Cuisine
There are several traditional dishes popular in the Cook Islands. First is Rori, which is raw or cooked sea cucumber cooked with garlic, butter and various spices.
Ika is another dish involving raw seafood (fish) marinated in lemon juice. It is also mixed with coconut cream and onion.
The national drink in Cook Islands is called tumunu. This is a traditionally brewed alcohol using fermented oranges.
On Tipping: Tipping is not required in the Cook Islands.
Travel to Cook Islands: Natural Attractions
The natural beauty and exotic beaches in Cook Islands is one of many reasons why tourists travel to Cook Islands. Check out the top natural tourist attractions you can explore on your visit to this island nation:
Aitutaki Lagoon: This picture-perfect lagoon provides an ideal tropical escape. The translucent turquoise water offers opportunity for swimming or snorkeling. There are also 21 small islands within the area that you can explore with cruises or tours.
Cross Island Walk: The lush scenery in Cook Islands, especially in Rarotonga, provides a wonderful alternative to the gorgeous beaches in the island. You can hike the trail for hours wherein you will be exploring a lush and thick forest, and then conclude your hike by soaking in the fresh waters of the waterfalls.
Aroa Marine Reserve: This marine reserve is located on the west coast of Rarotonga. It features crystal clear waters and an outlying reef, which is why most tourists come here to snorkel. Kayaking is another popular activity among tourists who visit this natural attraction. It is a fantastic venue for those who want to relax and spend some idle time.