It’s been awhile since I’ve set foot somewhere that completely takes my breath away. Don’t get me wrong, Jacob and I have gone to some incredible places these past few months (the Dead Sea, Lech and Lapland, to name a few). But there’s something about the unspoiled white sand beaches and tropical landscapes of the Cook Islands that is completely surreal.
When the tourism board invited us to explore the Cook Islands earlier this year, we jumped at the chance. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for months! Is the water really the color of turquoise as shown in photos? Will the main island still feel undeveloped, or is it going to feel built up? We visited family in California last month, so it was really easy for us to tack on a trip to the Cook Islands at the end of our visit. After flying direct from the Los Angeles airport to Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, we arrived just before sunrise at our beachfront hotel, the Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas. It was love at first sight!
If I were to describe the Cook Islands, I’d say to picture how Bora Bora and Kauai felt years ago, when they were both relatively untouched. There’s one main road in Rarotonga that loops and takes 45 minutes to drive. The main town has all the essentials (grocery store, shopping, airport), and none of the fast food chains you’d expect to see. The largest hotels on the island have forty rooms. We’d drive off the road and park at the most stunning beach to sit for two hours, and not see another soul the entire time. If that isn’t paradise, I really don’t know what is!
We spent a few days in Rarotonga before heading to Aitutaki, the second largest island in the Cooks. Here we took boat tours for two days straight to visit the surrounding lagoons. We must’ve visited five islets, but it felt like there were endless ones to explore. Our favorite was definitely One Foot Island, which has the clearest blue water we’ve ever seen. When we told this to our guide he said that locals say the color blue was invented there…and we kind of believe it.
Honeymoon Island was also one of our favorites. The water is barely a meter deep here, so you can walk out for awhile and still stand. It’s perfect for floating!
Our days in Aitutaki were spent boating around during the day, and catching the sunset from our hotel at night. We stayed at Pacific Resort Aitutaki in a jungle bungalow with our own hammock and chairs on the beach. It was heaven on earth.
We headed back to Rarotonga on our last day before our flight. We were in the Cook Islands for a week, but wishing we had stayed for two! As much as a I loved honeymooning in Tahiti after our wedding last year, I would recommend the Cook Islands instead. It’s more affordable and the main island is much easier to get around. The locals also make the experience! We spent our final evening listening to a live band while our host ordered us way too much food. Cook Islands, we’ll be back…