Cook Islands Tours & Holidays
Close your eyes and imagine a remote tropical island...
Did you think of rustling palm trees, chalk-white sand and brilliantly blue water? Welcome to the Cook Islands, one of the South Pacific's most idyllic destinations. Fulfil your wildest tropical island dreams as you relax in turquoise lagoons, snack on local fruit and snorkel with tropical fish and giant clams. Or discover the rich culture beneath the postcard-perfect scenes by meeting a Cook Islands warrior, learning about ancient cooking, healing and dancing traditions, or getting to know the locals at the markets. Relax, you're on Cook Island time now.
Cook Islands at a glance
Avarua District in Rarotonga (population approximately 5,000)
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Cook Islands Maori (also known as Rarotongan), English
Cook Island Standard Time (GMT-10)
Learn more about Cook Islands
Eating and drinking
Festivals and events
Weather on the Cook Islands
Cook Islands travel FAQs
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
The Cook Islands boast warm, tropical weather all year round. Add that to the fact you'll probably spend most of your time on dreamy beaches and lagoons, swimming and snorkelling, you don't really need to pack much. Light, summery clothing, swimwear, sun protective gear and thongs are essential. You might also need a pair of runners or hiking boots if you want to explore the islands' walking trails. Here are the essential items to pack:
- small backpack for day tours
- waterproof bag to protect your gear during water activities
- reef-friendly sunscreen
- sunglasses and sunhat
- comfortable walking shoes
- reusable water bottle
- insect repellant
- quick-dry towel
- reef shoes or waterproof sandals
- light sweater for cooler evenings
Located in the middle of the South Pacific, the remoteness of the Cook Islands means travel options are pretty limited. But hey, we like to think that's one of the things that makes travelling to an isolated tropical paradise even more exciting. The only way to get there is to fly to Rarotonga (the largest island). Currently, the only destination with direct flights to Ratoronga is Auckland in New Zealand. Flights to Rarotonga from Sydney, Los Angeles and Tahiti are set to resume this year following a hiatus due to COVID-19.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Visa requirements vary depending on where you’re from. If you’re a national from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and several other countries in Europe and South America, you can enter the Cook Islands without a visa for tourism purposes for up to 31 days.
New Zealand nationals can enter visa-free for up to 90 days. If you're travelling for business purposes, or you intend on staying longer or want to extend your trip, you may need a visa or entry-on-arrival permit. Extensions are usually granted on a monthly basis for up to five months, and you'll need to apply at least 2 weeks before your current visa or permit expires.
If you’re travelling from a county not mentioned above, you will need to contact your local embassy or high commission to confirm your visa requirements.
The page is for general information only and may be subject to change. It is your responsibility to obtain relevant visa and travel information required for entry, departure and travel to each country or region you visit on your trip. You should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates.
There isn’t really a ‘bad time’ to visit the Cook Islands as the temperatures are balmy all year round. But if great weather is what you're looking for, we recommend planning your trip in the dry season between April and November when humidity and rainfall are low. July and August boast the best weather, but they're also the busiest months so expect higher prices for accommodation, sold-out tourist activities, and busy restaurants.
The off-season coincides with the wet season when the weather is hotter, stickier and wetter. If you don't mind the rain, you can usually find cheaper prices and empty beaches, making it the perfect time to enjoy the islands in their most idyllic state.
The shoulder seasons are April to May and September to October, and you can generally expect drier weather with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures, except you won’t have to compete with throngs of tourists for the best spots on the beach.
The Cook Islands' currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The prices below are shown in USD for ease of comparison:
- Glass or bottle of beer = USD 4.50
- Simple lunch at a local cafe = USD 10
- Dinner at a restaurant = USD 20-30
- Fresh coconut = USD 3
- Single bus trip = USD 3
Tipping isn't expected in the Cook Islands, but if you're particularly happy with a service and you'd like to show your gratitude, a tip will be well received.
There are two official languages: English and Cook Islands Māori, also known as Rarotongan, which is spoken by over 20,000 people. Cook Islands Māori is similar to New Zealand and Tahitian Māori. Learn a few phrases before your next trip.
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
Go to: Smart Traveller
Go to: Canada Travel Information
From the UK?
Go to: UK Foreign Travel Advice
From New Zealand?
Go to: Safe Travel
From the US?
Go to: US Department of State
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. Trips to this country directly support our global Intrepid Foundation partners Eden Reforestation Projects and World Bicycle Relief. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.
Eden Reforestation Projects
Eden Reforestation Projects are helping to mitigate climate change by restoring forests worldwide; they also hire locally and create job opportunities within vulnerable communities. Donations from our trips support restoration across planting sites in 10 countries around the globe.
Find out more or make a donation
World Bicycle Relief
World Bicycle Relief provides people in low-income communities with bicycles to mobilise school kids, health workers, and farmers in far-out areas – giving them access to vital education, healthcare, and income. Donations help provide Buffalo Bicycles – specifically designed to withstand the rugged terrain and harsh environment of rural regions – to those who need them most.
Find out more or make a donation