We’ve known for a while that the Cook Islands are one of the South Pacific’s true treasures. But just to make sure, we sent Goway’s Graphic Designer, Alejandro and his wife, Kasia, there on their honeymoon in March. Here’s what he had to say about an escape to island paradise on his Cook Islands vacation.
Alejandro, welcome back! First off, what attracted you to the Cook Islands?
The first thing that attracted me the most was how remote and beautiful the islands looked. I’ve browsed through images of the South Pacific islands, like Tahiti, Fiji, etc… Even though they all are stunning, I really wanted to experience a quiet/almost untouched destination like the Cooks, where culture and ways of living for the locals are almost intact.
What part of the islands did you stay in, and how would you describe it?
I had the opportunity to visit Rarotonga and Aitutaki. In Rarotonga I stayed in 3 different parts of the island – the east, west, and south regions. They were all different, and stunning in their own way. The west part of Rarotonga is beautiful, with quiet waters, long beaches, and lots of small reefs to explore. You’re also very close to a few good restaurants and resorts. The east side of Rarotonga to me was the best. There, you find the famous Muri Lagoon and amazing clear waters with beautiful white beaches as well. The perfect area to swim. The east side also features maybe the best resort on the island, and great places like the Mooring Fish Cafe and the Te Vara Nui Village, which are a must when you visit Rarotonga on a Cooks Islands vacation. The south part of the island is the quietest. There, I could relax and enjoy the open ocean views and also the great spots to swim and snorkel. It’s the most romantic and remote area, for sure.
Aitutaki was a different game altogether, and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. You can go around the island in 30 minutes by scooter, and it has the most beautiful lagoon. Maybe the best in the world. The island cruise is a must because it is the only way you will be able to visit the nearby smaller islands that encompass the totality of Aitutaki. Especially One Foot Island, which I was only allowed to visit for an hour and a half. Simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. Since Aitutaki is very remote as well, even more-so than Rarotonga, and way smaller, there aren’t many places to eat or things to do. Just being there is an incredible experience.
Was there a particular experience, or thing you did, on either island that really stood out for you?
The most memorable Rarotonga experience for me was visiting the Te Vara Nui Village, which is basically a Polynesian live show and buffet experience. I learned a lot about the island culture and history. In Aitutaki, I felt free, like my wife and I had the island all to ourselves. Aside from the amazing VAKA Cruise, which, I repeat, is a MUST, just scootering around the Island, exploring its surroundings and talking to its people was incredible. I also brought my drone, which allowed me to catch breathtaking footage and pictures and experience the islands in a completely different way.
Ah, yes! Got some good aerial photos to justify this third passenger on your honeymoon?
Amazing shots and because there are no drone regulations in the Cook Islands, it made it possible to capture every angle I wanted.
The Cook Islanders are famously welcoming, and you mentioned the Te Vara Nui Village. Tell us more about your interactions with the locals.
I had the chance to interact with the locals from the very beginning. Not only were they welcoming but also very warm and willing to help at all times. My wife’s luggage was misplaced and did not arrive at the airport the day we got there. She recovered it three days later but I have to say that if it wasn’t for the support and comfort the islanders showed us it would have been a very different experience. We got to meet many more everywhere we went and I don’t think I’ve ever met nicer, more loving, or happier people. Their lives are so different compared to the one I know, and this allows them to relax and enjoy every minute and every person they come into contact with. One of the highlights of the Cook Islands is definitely its people.
Could you see yourself staying there for a while? Maybe living alongside the locals?
I met a few people from Australia and New Zealand who had left the big cities and had now been living in the Cook Islands for years, and I asked myself if I could leave it all behind and move there or even live there for a while. I have to say that as much as I love the place, I wouldn’t be able to stay there forever. But I most definitely could live in the Islands for a few months. If I had the chance to move there for a while, who knows? Maybe the Islands would captivate me and I would end up staying there for good.
Sounds like you wouldn’t be the first. What was one thing that surprised you about the Cook Islands?
To be honest I wasn’t particularly hoping to find good food when I got there. I knew they import much of their food stock so I was very surprised when every dish I tried was so delicious. The local fruits and vegetables are so good. They do a great job combining most of their cuisine with international flavours. Another thing that surprised me was how time seems to go slower every hour. Maybe because I was so relaxed, but many times I found myself thinking it was way later than it actually was. In paradise, time is definitely different.
For sure! So finally, now that you’ve been, what would you tell would-be travellers to the Cooks about visiting?
I would say that if you’re looking to escape to a remote paradise for your honeymoon or even to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth, not only for its people but also for its views, please consider a Cook Islands vacation. The trip was something like twenty hours long, but as soon as I was there I felt great. I’d recommend travelling during the months of April to August. Apparently that is the best season. I went in March and it was a bit too humid and too hot some days. Locals said it was because we were just passing the storm season. I’m sure I will continue to travel to many other beautiful destinations, but one thing is for sure, I will never forget this place.