Five Goway Idyllic Islands Experts have recently returned from a FAM trip to the Cook Islands sponsored by Goway, Cook Island Tourism, and Air New Zealand. Kelly Marshall, Ryan Ferreira, Debbie Roller, Tammy McNab, and Kanchan Asre had the opportunity to visit both the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Here, they share some memorable experiences, tips, and reasons why you should recommend the Cook Islands as a great destination with lots of history and culture along with untouched beauty located in the South Pacific.
Where are the Cook Islands and how do you get there?
Ryan: “They’re in the same time zone as Hawaii. There is one direct flight per week out of North America out of Los Angeles, which leaves Los Angeles each Saturday arriving in the Cook Islands on Sunday. The return flight leaves the Cook Islands on Fridays arriving back in Los Angeles on Saturdays.”
What did you see and do in the Cook Islands?
Debbie: “We stayed at many wonderful resorts in the Cook Islands. Additionally, we had the opportunity to enjoy dinner and the traditional Polynesian show at the Highland Paradise Culture Center. The show is a review of the history of the Cook Islands through song and dance.”
Tammy: “We also went to Aitutaki. Even an overcast day could not dim the bright blue crystal clear waters of this island, which in my opinion are just stunning! Here we went on a Bishop’s Cruise, which included lunch and allowed lots time for snorkelling and exploring Aitutaki Lagoon with a stop at One Foot Island where we were able to get our passports stamped.”
What are some of your favourite highlights?
Kelly: “Visiting the island of Aitutaki was a highlight for me. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I would most definitely recommend a stay on Aitutaki if you are visiting the Cooks. If you don’t have time to stay a night we offer a great day trip from Rarotonga so you can enjoy this little slice of heaven on earth.”
Ryan: “The people! The locals of Cook Islands are the friendliest people, always smiling and making you feel welcome! If you are looking for a local experience, we offer a fantastic two-week package called Live like a Local: the Cook Islands, which includes a famous progressive dinner that takes you on a three-course meal at three local family homes for each course.”
Any favourite accommodations, and how do they differ from other tropical destinations?
Tammy: “In general, it’s good to know that many properties have a kitchenette or even full kitchen facilities in their rooms, making it a great option for clients looking to get away on a longer holiday or great for the independent traveller that doesn’t want to rely on ‘resort food’ for every meal.”
Kelly: “I loved the Courtyard Pool Suite at the Crown Beach Resort on Rarotonga. The rooms were large and very well maintained. The bathrooms were very modern with an amazing shower and claw foot tub. It’s the perfect room category for clients looking for total privacy at a boutique luxury resort.”
What tips can you recommend for travel agents in recommending this destination?
Ryan: “This is a destination that is still undiscovered by tourists so that you can get the real authentic feel of the island. No hotel is higher than a palm tree, so there are no big resorts like in other tropical destinations.”
Kanchan: “This is an excellent destination for honeymooners. You have some very nice luxury properties that have private courtyards and plunge pools, all at very reasonable prices.”
Tammy: “Whether you’re looking for adventure, romance, relaxation, or a unique cultural experience, this Idyllic Island can cross all these options off your list. Great for clients that are looking for a more authentic experience than French Polynesia or Hawaii.”
Debbie: “It’s effortless to get around the main island of Rarotonga. There is only one main road. You can navigate it by car rental or the local bus, which runs clockwise and counter-clockwise around the island.”
Kelly: “The Cooks Islands are not necessarily known as a luxury destination like French Polynesia with its overwater bungalows, but what it is is an amazingly warm cultural experience! Yes, there are beautiful luxury boutique properties on the islands, but in my opinion, it is more about the location, the people, and experiences the islands have to offer.”