When travelling to the ends of the earth, in search of that remote paradise as far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as you can get, it’s important to plan it right. Of course… you can call the Turquoise team and we’ll do everything for you… but to get you started, here are our top five ‘know before you go’ tips for planning a stress free holiday to the Cook Islands.
1.The Cook Islands is the only destination in the South Pacific to which you can fly from A to B, London to Rarotonga (via LA), with the same airline. Plus, it isn’t just any airline, but the wonderful and quite rightly award winning, Air New Zealand. If your budget will stretch beyond Economy but not quite to Business, consider flying on Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch or try their fabulous Premium Economy – one of the best in the skies. The Skycouch, or ‘cuddle class’ as we prefer to call it, allows you to enjoy three economy seats for two… with a footrest that can be made level with the seat, giving you a double bed to enjoy. Pillows, snug blankets and special attention also provided.
2. The journey to the Cook Islands is not to be underestimated – it will take you around 24 hours to get there via Los Angeles – but the rewards are instant once you touchdown in beautiful Rarotonga. The time difference is GMT-10 so although the journey is worth every second, minute, hour and day, it is important to understand it is not a quick fly and flop holiday! We highly recommend thinking about adding in a few nights in LA, either on the way there or the way back, to break the journey and give you a few days of fun in the city.
3. The flight from LA to Rarotonga is weekly – Air New Zealand leaves London early afternoon on a Saturday and after a couple of hours connecting in LA, you’ll arrive in Rarotonga on Sunday morning local time. The return flight departs Rarotonga on a Friday evening and lands back in the UK on the Sunday morning. Five nights on holiday in the Cooks is clearly inadvisable after such a long journey, so all our itineraries are based on a 12 night stay in order to give you enough time to discover the islands properly and get the most out of your Cook Islands adventure. Whether you choose to stopover in Los Angeles for night or two or to just pass through on the Air NZ connecting flights, you must organise an ESTA well before departure or you will be denied boarding in London: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta
4. The Cook Islands is home to fifteen glorious islands, but there are two main islands to include on your Cook Islands holiday. The first and largest is Rarotonga where the international airport is located and also where the majority of the Cook Islands population lives. The second is Aitutaki, known for its stunning, out of this world blue lagoon, white sand cays and luxury beachside boltholes. We recommend splitting your 12-night holiday between the two islands to make the most of your time and also to take advantage of the offers available at our favourite hideaways – we love spending 7 nights living like a local and exploring lush Rarotonga followed by 5 nights relaxing on idyllic Aitutaki.
5. For the more intrepid explorer, our favourite remote island is Atiu, a lush jungle clad island with a population of less than 500, just a short 50-minute flight from Rarotonga. Accommodation and infrastructure is limited, so rather than staying here, we highly recommend a day trip from Rarotonga. Step back in time and experience one of the most remote island communities on earth. Oh, and they even make their own coffee, so you can bring a little of Atiu home with you for your morning brew!