Kia orana from the Cook Islands.

Kia orana – overseas travel is back baby!

While the last two years of lockdowns and loathing is slowly becoming a thing of the past, hubby and I decided to start small and celebrate a week of marriage in the Cook Islands.

The water is pristine, the weather is perfect, the diving and snorkling is sensational, the flight is only 3 and a half hours from Auckland, Survivor was filmed there, but the best thing about the Cook Islands, is the people. Ask anyone who has been what they loved most; it’s the people.

The Cook Islanders we met were walking, talking sunbeams. Total A+ in delightfulness, helpfulness, and warmth. Because of who I am, (an optimist dipped in healthy cynicism) I searched for chinks in the armor, a momentary lapse in charm, but I never saw it. Not even when I asked for a free cocktail based on a brochure I found in town that was 5 years old. They love us and we love them. The way Cook Islanders connected and interacted with tourists was genuine and whole hearted. Nothing ever felt contrived or like it was their job. To be fair, if swimming and photographing turtles all day was your job, I certainly wouldn’t be complaining.

We travel for lots of reasons: to see the world, to be more resilient, to bookmark our lives, and to be present with each other. In Rarotonga you get all of that the day you arrive – a proper holiday away from all the hussle and bussle of home life.

My idea of a happy holiday isn’t about ditching all responsibilities and sipping rosé all day, (…or IS IT?), it’s about having some time to re-charge and reset. Quality, present and who-cares-where-my-phone-is, time. Slow morning strolls and raucous pre-dinner swims, none of the snapping and ‘hurry-up-where-are-my-keys-we-have-to-go!,’ that peppers each day in Real Life.

The Cook Islands offered all of this and a bag of coconuts. We were lucky enough to stay at the Pacific Resort in Aitutaki and the Sunset Resort on the mainland – where the food is world-class and the reef is breathtaking. We spent a week exploring these beautiful islands where you think your only opportunity to see reefs that blue is on your desktop screensaver. The Aitutaki lagoons deserve a place in the Dulux Hall of Fame.

We’re foodies at heart and recommend hiking up the hill to Antipodes for a sunset dinner filled with crab and prawn raviolli you could marry in a heartbeat and absolute Freshness that deserves a capital F.

While the Cook Islands don’t boast themselves as the action-packed holiday destination, be sure to fill in your days with Charlotte Piho’s Turtle Tours, a mud buggy adventure (I am still finding bits of mud in crevices I didn’t even know existed), and a guided island hike, while sweaty but still spectacular. And you get a homemade lunch (did I mention I was a foodie?) and a swim in one of their natural waterfalls.

Get yourself some sick convertible wheels to tiki tour at your own pace around the island and have a great attitude towards freepouring alcoholic beverages that will leave you singing (I don’t condone both of those recommendations going hand in hand).

All in all, it’s a big yes from us and a place that wholeheartedly deserves a 10/10.

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