Cook Islands - About & FAQ
An ideal destination for those wanting to unwind, relax and discover a unique and friendly culture. The 15 Cook Islands are scattered across the south Pacific over about two million square kilometers, an area the size of India. These Polynesian tropical gems have a combined population of an average country town: about 14,000 unique and friendly souls. Most Cook Islanders dwell on the capital island of Rarotonga, which is also where most of the 70,000-odd annual visitors stop off, arriving at the island's international airport.
Circular Rarotonga is almost completely enclosed by a reef, harboring a lagoon of clear turquoise water and white sandy beaches. The small island is dominated by a high mountain peak from which lush rain forests cascade down to the palm-fringed shore. The commercial centre of the islands is the friendly, bustling town of Avarua on Rarotonga, which has banks, shops and tourist facilities as well as a busy port and yacht basin. The outer islands are becoming increasingly popular for excursions, but remain largely unspoiled by tourism. Just North of Raratonga, lays Aitutaki. The Island itself is small and volcanic, lying next to a barrier reef teeming with coral and fish, and enclosing a perfect turquoise lagoon.
The Cook Islanders have their own language and government, and enjoy a vigorous and diverse culture with significant differences between each island. Even if you go no further than Rarotonga, though, you will be ensured of a dream 'South Seas' holiday experience on the pristine beaches, snorkeling the reef, or exploring the island by bus, motor scooter, bicycle or jeep.
What is the Weather & Climate like in the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands enjoy a pleasantly warm and sunny climate all year round. June to August are the cooler months, whilst November to March marks the warmer season, with occasional tropical showers expected.
The drier months from April to November have an average temperature of about 26°C/80°F, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 22°C/72°F and 28°C/84°C.
Do I need to have a Passport and Visa to enter The Cook Islands?
Visitors do not require an entry permit for the Cook Islands for stays of less than 31 days. All visitors must provide proof on arrival of an onward ticket to a country they are permitted to enter. Extension permits are usually granted for visitors wanting to stay over 31 days. All visitors are required to have a valid passport, proof of onward passage, adequate financial means of supporting stay, and suitable accommodation. Applications can be made upon arrival at the Immigration Department. Extensions are granted on a monthly basis, up to 5 additional months only.
For those wanting to stay in the Cook Islands longer than 6 months, must apply for a visa from their home territory, prior to their arrival in the Cook Islands.
What is the customs quarantine procedure like when entering The Cook Islands?
There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.
Can I bring Tax Free/Duty Free items into The Cook Islands?
No duty is levied on clothing or personal effects (including sports equipment). In addition, each visitor may bring the following items, free of duty, into the Cook Islands: 200 cigarettes or up to 1⁄2 pound (1 kg) of tobacco or up to 50 cigars, 2 liters of spirit or wine or 41/2 liters of beer.
Goods with total value of up to NZ$250.00 are not open to duties, however goods in excess of NZ$250.00 are liable to duty.
What is and how much is the Departure tax?
Upon departure all visitors will be charged the following taxes: Adults NZ$25.00, Children under 12 years NZ$10.00, Children 2 years and under are free of charge. This must be paid upon departure, and is not included as part of prepaid taxes with airline tickets.
What languages are spoken in The Cook Islands?
English is widely spoken and expect to hear Maori, the local national language.
What is the time difference between The Cook Islands and the U.S.?
The Cook Islands are -5 EST/-2PST and currently do not operate daylight saving at this time.
What currency is used in The Cook Islands?
The denomination of currency used in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The Westpac and ANZ Banks in Avarua are open Monday to Friday 9:00am – 3:00pm. In addition visitors can exchange travelers checks and principal currencies at larger stores and hotels.
What Credit Cards can I use in The cook Islands?
Banking facilities are also provided at the airport for currency exchange and cashing of travelers checks. They are open for the arrival and departure of all International flights. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island at most shops, and restaurants. ANZ have recently installed an ATM machine. EFTPOS facilities are becoming more widespread throughout local businesses and cash advances on major credit cards are accepted.
What Taxes are currently in place in The Cook Islands?
All taxes are included in prices.
When and how much should I tip in The Cook Islands?
Tipping is not expected and is contrary to Cook Islands Custom
What electric voltage does The Cook Islands use?
Voltage is 220 AC/50 cycle, the same as New Zealand and Australia. In some cases, a two pin adapter may be required. Some hotels and motels have provisions for 110 volt AC electric razors
Do I need insurance when traveling to The Cook Islands?
Before your visit you should arrange sufficient medical and travel insurance. Ensure the policy is adequate to cover costs for ambulance or helicopter rescue, emergency surgery, or transportation home. We offer comprehensive travel insurance policies to cover every eventuality – ask your Aspire Down Under consultant for more details.
Do I need to get any specfic vaccinations before entering The Cook Islands?
Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter the Cook Islands.
Is all water safe to drink in The Cook Islands?
Although some visitors prefer to boil water before use, it is not necessary. Bottled water is available from the local shops for those who wish to purchase
What precautions should I take to protect myself from the sun in The Cook Islands?
The sun can be very strong all year round, be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat.
What do I need to know about driving in Raratonga?
Driving is on the left hand side of the road. Drivers of all vehicles are required to have a current Cook Islands Drivers License available from the Police Station in Avarua on presentation of your own license. Cost NZ$10.00
If you have any additional questions about Cook Islands vacations that are not listed here, including Cook Islands vacation packages, please contact us at 877-7ASPIRE.