An unspoilt cluster of islands in the Pacific, several hours flying time from New Zealand, the Cook Island group is a treasured holiday experience. The "Cooks" is in the centre of the Polynesian triangle flanked to the west by Tonga and Samoa and to the east by Tahiti and French Polynesia. The group is made up of fifteen islands which are scattered over two million square kilometers of ocean. They fall into two distinct groups: The Southern Group is the most popular with 90% of the population. Six of the nine islands are accessible by regular air services. The more remote Northern Group has six islands, three of which - Manihiki, Penrhyn and Pukapuka are accessible by air.
Rarotonga is the largest island lying at the southern end of the group. The capital, Avarua is a thriving administrative and shopping centre with restaurants, hotels, banking and other facilities including the International Airport. There are first class resorts, reef protected bays in which to snorkel swim and sail and local bus transport which encircles the island every forty-five minutes.
From Rarotonga, you can visit other Cook Island destinations such as Aitutaki, a fifty minute flight by Air Rarotonga; Atiu, north east of Rarotonga which offers untouched beaches and coral reefs riddled with caves; Mangaia, south east of Rarotonga surrounded by a narrow fringing reef backed by the formidable cliffs of Makatea which reach heights of up to 60 meters; Mauki, with its fine caves located in the cliffs of the coral reef; Mitiaro which has a large swampy interior; Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Manihiki, Nassau, Palmerston, and Suwarrow which has no permanent resident only a caretaker.
The southern group also has Manuae a marine reserve with only a caretaker and Takutea, another uninhabited island which is a bird sanctuary but there are no regular flights to either of these islands.