We explore all that this long-haul love island has to offer of the Pacific and the result – a romantic experience of a lifetime!
From the moment of arrival, the notorious generosity of the Cook Islanders blew us away and ‘Kia Orana’ touched our hearts – as did the unsurpassed beauty of this Pacific paradise. After a two week adventure, it was hard to ignore just how undiscovered this thriving civilisation revealed itself to be. From the infinite blaze of the stars, swells and pacific skies, to the irresistible tropical fruits and remedial plants in abundance, everything on the Islands felt nurturing to the mind and body.
The excellent in-flight hospitality hosted by the friendly Air New Zealand crew saw us arrive comfortably into the capital, Rarotonga. A simpler pace and less time-bound attitude to living quickly became magnified as did our ability to adhere to the forgiving nature of the established ‘island time’!
While Rarotonga’s modern conveniences never go unnoticed, the preservation of the islands natural amenities and wholesome beauty is paramount to the sustainability of this motu (island) Eden that has been seducing travellers for centuries. Rest assured the Island’s lush green horizon, by law, cannot be developed any higher than the Cook Islands plentiful canopy of Coconut trees. If you can tear yourself away, venture beyond Rarotonga’s infinite beautiful beaches and you won’t be disappointed by the Island’s theatrical scenery. The single main road that circles Rarotonga distancing just 32km tempts many visitors to an idyllic and romantic bike ride at your own leisure. Many of the resorts offer complimentary bike hire and will even pack for you a tropical picnic to take should you discover one of the untouched openings to the lagoon on your travels. Should you wish to explore deeper into the bush and Polynesian heritage, embark on the Cook Island’s only Eco Tour by mountain bike, Story Tellers Eco cycle Tours. Guided by the very locals who live, work and love the land, a journey through it’s deep routed history and agriculture will see you swim in hidden waterfalls and witness the stature of the sacred marae sites.
For honeymoon couples that wish to sleep with the sounds of the ocean, the Polynesian architecture twinned with modern interiors of Little Polynesian Resort will totally exceed your expectations of a beachfront bungalow. Travel a little further inland and experience a totally different kind of paradise. Ikurangi Eco Retreat – where luxury meets sustainability promises The Cook Islands first and only eco ‘hotel’ offering impressive safari tents equipped with home comforts and boutique furnishings. Wake up to the Takitumu mountain ranges and a daily tropical breakfast prepared with the fruits of Ikurangi’s organic gardens.
Head to the west side of the water to Crown Beach Resort & Spa where families, honeymoon and wedding couples will be spoilt for choice of garden, beachfront and courtyard villas. Offering private pool suites and uninterrupted views of the lagoon, spacious luxury from anywhere at Crown Beach is a mere stones throw from the icing sugar sand of the resort’s private stretch of the island.
No view of The Cook’s famous lagoon can be rivalled than from Aitutaki’s overwater bungalows at the Aitutaki lagoon Resort & Spa. Accessed only by private water taxi, the Resort is literally surrounded by the lagoon’s purest turquoise waters . Here there is no better way to explore than by kayak where genuine desert islands await discovery.
For pure tranquility and unparalleled isolation Etu Moana’s idyllic beach villas will still the noise of your mind within maximised privacy. Although fully furnished for self catering, the 18km round trip means a small abundance of restaurant, bars and shops are never far from anywhere on Aitutaki.
Whether sipping ginger beers at The Water Shed beach treehouse, Rarotonga or savouring fresh fruit cocktails at The Little Polynesian, local dishes play an intrinsic role in Polynesian culture. Stop for lunch at the award winning Moorings cafe near Muri beach for the freshest fish burger served from their quirky converted shipping container shop.
No authentic visit to Aitutaki is complete without visiting Tupuna’s restaurant – an experience that offers you to dine with the sand beneath your feet and the stars above your head. This establishment is as skilful and charming as it’s owner, Tupuna herself and an evening that I promise will both surprise and delight! For THE best fine dining experience in Rarotonga the elegant menu at Nautilus Resort champion’s contemporary dishes with Polynesian influence that will impress the most finical tastebuds. Handmade smoky breads, maple salted butter, moreish sauces and signature ice creams showcase a slice of this restaurant’s forte for flavour.
SAY I DO
‘Heaven’ by name and by nature, be sure to visit Aitutaki’s solitary sand bar permanently immersed in the lagoon, where a single archway stands for couples who have declared their vows after several hours of sun filled seclusion. Like the small honeymoon population that choose to rekindle here also, take nothing but photos and leave nothing but a single planted coconut, as the island intended and assured you won’t remain undecided as to whether you love this place. Should you wish to wed anywhere in Rarotonga enlist the expertise of Mata from Weddings in Paradise, Rarotonga whose knowledge of the island, trusted suppliers, her passion and creativity will bring together the perfect day.
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Air New Zealand flies from London to Rarotonga via LA. Return flights start from £1,307 for economy and £2,658 for premium economy. For the most up to date fares visit airnewzealand.co.uk