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Cook Islands is the South Pacific's best kept secret
TOP SEVEN HOLIDAYS
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Welcome to the lovely and isolated Cook Islands. Here you can become a beach bum, bird watcher, scuba diver, or sun worshipper on ecstatic Cook Island holidays. You won’t find high rise hotel accommodations here, instead you’ll find a peaceful community of Polynesians, Maori, and New Zealanders living traditional lifestyles and welcoming you into their little piece of paradise.
North of New Zealand, south of Hawaii, and west of Tahiti, the Cook Islands are like stray fish that a large net has grouped together. They are South Pacific islands covering an area the size of India, with a population of a mere 13,200 souls. Just fifteen of the islands are inhabited, including the largest--Rarotonga. With spellbinding mountain crags, dense verdant jungle, and sugar sand beaches, Rarotonga resorts are an escapist’s dream come true. Other islands and atolls include the uber-stunning Aitutaki, perfect for finding giant clams and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish while scuba diving on Cook Island holidays. Next, visit Atiu, ideal for exploring caves and coffee plantations. The Makatea island chain is where traditional island life follows its own unique rhythms, and on Penrhyn and Manihiki, see the mysterious black pearl fields.
The culture of the Cook islands stands out because of the sense of kinship and lack of individualism the people share. For each Cook islander, his primary obligation is always to his own clan, but so friendly are these peaceful islanders that the clan increases each time one makes a new friend. In fact, the Polynesian language doesn’t have a word for the immediate nuclear family because the peoples’ belief in the primacy of the extended clan is so strong. Traditionally, Cook Islands chiefs displayed their generosity by throwing feasts for their clans, and on your Cook Island holidays you’ll notice this tradition continues today. Singing, dancing, and celebration are big parts of Cook islanders’ lives. Fierce, rhythmic drumming is paired with sensual dancing in a unique style of performance which can always be observed at least once a week somewhere on Rarotonga. Sometimes you’ll hear the deep bass drumming coming from the courtyards of some of the quaint honeymooner’s Cook Islands accommodations, other times it will fill the air near the larger Cook Islands resorts.
Sharing food is a very important part of making friends on all Cook Island holidays. You may be offered anything from coconut to goat meat, but fish is the most popular cuisine on the islands. When Cook islanders season it with coconut sauce and chilies, watch out, you’re going to fall in love! The tropical fruits here are absolutely peerless. You’ll find many varieties of ultra-sweet bananas as well as mangoes, papayas, and some fruits you may never have tasted before, like custard apples, durian, breadfruit, and pawpaw. It’s incredible to wake up on your Cook Island holidays to a flawless ocean and sky view, drink in the perfect equatorial weather, and treat yourself with a traditional breakfast delicacy like pawpaw seasoned with lime, mint, and sprinkles of coconut.
The history of the Cook Islands is a proud but little known one of vast exploration. Stone-age Polynesian seafarers explored far wider regions than later, but more famous, Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch, and French explorers. In the 1800’s, British Captain James Cook sighted the island group and made it a popular stopping place for European trade vessels. The fierce fighting instincts and cannibalistic nature of the islanders at that time did cause troubles for visitors who sought to exploit the island’s natural resources. There are tales of explorers killed and eaten during this time of conflict. Eventually, however, missionaries flocked to the Cook Islands and converted the people to Christianity, eliminating human flesh from the Cook Islands menu and establishing what is still the most popular religion in the islands today. Because of the missionary influence, English and Maori are both spoken in the region.
The presence of coconut palms and grass skirts on all Cook Island holidays tells you everything you really need to know about Cook Islands weather-- it is tropical and warm year ‘round. November to April features “summertime” weather that approximates a humid 29 degrees celsius. “Wintertime” weather, between May and October, is a dryer 19 degrees celsius. No matter what time of year you decide to take your Cook Island holidays, you are most likely to arrive via a flight to Rarotonga International Airport, the Cook islands’ primary gateway to the world.