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Cook Islands FAQs

  • Woman standing on boat in Aitutaki, Cook Islands

What language is spoken in the Cook Islands?

The official languages of the Cook Islands are English and Rarotongan. English is spoken in all touristic areas. 

What currency is used in the Cook Islands?

The currencies used throughout the country are the New Zealand dollar and the Cook Islands dollar. The New Zealand dollar is recommended for tourists as the Cook Islands dollar is only good on the Cook Islands. ATMs will issue New Zealand dollars. Major credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. Several ATMs can be found on Rarotonga, Aitutaki has two ATMs and two banks, and cash is needed for the smaller islands.  

Do I need a visa to travel to the Cook Islands?

A visa is not required when travelling from Canada or the United States as a tourist for up to 30 days. You will need a passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the date you expect to leave the Cook Islands and proof of an onward/return ticket. 

When is the best time to travel to the Cook Islands?

The best time to travel to the Cook Islands is between May and October when it is the winter season and there is little to no rainfall during this period. However, the Cook Islands offers a pleasantly warm climate all year. The summer rainy season begins in December and lasts until April. The winter months are also known as the dry season however this time of year is busier with tourists.   

Is there transportation within the Cook Islands?

Rarotonga has a very easy bus system around the island; one bus travels clockwise and the other counterclockwise. Taxis are available, local restaurants offer a pick-up service from resorts and it is easy to navigate the island with a rental car, scooter or bicycle. Aitutaki and the smaller of the Cook Islands do not offer public transit just taxi hire and car rental. Cars are driven on the left-hand side in the Cook Islands. 

Are the Cook Islands a family-friendly destination?

Families and children are a very important part of Polynesian culture and the Cook Islands is a great place to bring the children. The waters are calm in the protected lagoon making it safe for swimming and snorkeling. There are lots of activities to entertain children and help them switch off the screens such as jungle hiking, crab races, water sports and cultural activities. The best thing for families is that there are plenty of one, two and three-bedroom self-catering accommodations as well as traditional-style hotels and resorts. 

How welcoming are the Cook Islands to LGBTQ travellers and families?

LGBTQ Travellers are welcomed in the Cook Islands, most locals are welcoming and accepting however it is important to note that homosexuality for the local men is not legal, although for women it is. 

What voltage and power outlet is used in the Cook Islands? 

The Cook Islands use the same type of plug/outlet, as you would find in New Zealand and Australia, the type I plug with slanted prongs. The voltage is 240V therefore North American travellers will need an adapter converter for their electrical appliances. 

What should I buy to bring home from the Cook Islands?

Traditional souvenirs and handicrafts can be found in gift shops and markets however the best place to browse is the Saturday Morning Punanga Muri Markets. You will find black pearls, pareus (sarong), locally produced perfumes, creams and oils, wood carvings and hand-stitched quilts known as tivaevae. 

What are some important items to pack for the Cook Islands?

Be sure to pack bug repellent and sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 (the sun is stronger in the Pacific). A rash guard is helpful to protect from the sun when snorkelling or participating in other water sports. Bring water/reef shoes to protect your feet from the coral and rockfish and sturdy shoes if you plan on taking some hikes.   

What is the wifi like in the Cook Islands?

Resorts and hotels on the Cook Islands offer free Wi-fI, you will also find WiFi hotspots around the islands as well. 

  What are the main annual events held in the Cook Islands

Te Mire Ura (Dancer of the Year) Contest (April): 

The Te Mire Ura is an annual dance competition showcasing the traditional song, dance and costumes of the Cook Islands. There are even golden oldies, ex-pat and visitors categories for tourists to take part. 

Te Maeva Nui (July/August)

Te Maeva Nui is a festival to celebrate the Cook Islands’ independence from New Zealand. The celebrations include a parade, dance performances, music, arts, and crafts, and market days and are the cultural event of the year. 

Manureva Aquafest (August)

The Cook Island annual kite surfing and water sports event. There are events for all ages and abilities and a closing ceremony with awards, BBQ and traditional dance performance with fire dancers. 

Tiare Festival (November)

The Cook Islands are known for their beautiful fragrant tropical flowers and the Tiare (Flower) festival is the best time to see the island in full bloom. The festival includes a parade of floral floats, flower arranging competitions, flower shows and flower displays. There’s also the Miss Tiare Pageant and a Cook Islands Maori speech competition for the local school students.

VAKA EIVA (November)

Vaka Eiva is the Cook Islands' annual outrigger canoeing festival and biggest sporting event. The festival is week-long and brings paddlers from all over the world to compete in various racing events. There’s a wrap-up party at the end which adds festivities to the nightlife on the island. 

What are some useful Rarotongan words?

Kia orana - Hello

Aere ra - Goodbye.

Meitaki - Thank you.

Ae - Yes.

Kare - No.



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