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Where Are The Cook Islands? We'll Fill You In (And Show You Why You'll Want To Honeymoon There)

  |  By Jen O'Brien

Unless you're particularly interested in geography or have flown over the Pacific multiple times, you may have never heard of the Cook Islands, never mind considered where exactly they are. This group of 15 tiny islands -- veritable specs scattered across a 2.2-million-kilometre stretch of sapphire South Pacific water -- were settled by explorers from French Polynesia roughly 1400 years ago. Captain James Cook, the islands' namesake, arrived in the late 1700s and a few decades later British missionaries showed up and converted the majority of the Cook Islanders to Christianity. The Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888 and in 1901 the New Zealand government decided to annex the country. The Cook Islands remained a New Zealand protectorate until 1965, when the New Zealand Government decided to offer self-governing status to its colony. To this day Cook Islanders hold New Zealand passports and speak English as well as Maori. The island group, which includes six atolls (unique ring-shaped coral islands surrounding a lagoon) has long been a popular destination for vacationing Australians and New Zealanders but is beginning to gain popularity in the North American market as well with direct flights from Los Angeles via Air New Zealand.

Where are the Cook Islands? The Cook Islands are located in the centre of what's called "The Polynesian Triangle" with Hawaii at its apex and New Zealand and Easter Island on either side. The island group's closest neighbours are French Polynesia and American Samoa. Los Angeles is roughly 10 hours by plane north-east of the capital of Rarotonga while Auckland, New Zealand is a four-hour flight to the south-west.

How do you get there? The quickest and easiest way to get from Canada to the Cook Islands is via Los Angeles. Air New Zealand currently operates one outbound flight per week from LAX to Rarotonga, which departs each Sunday night. Return flights from Rarotonga to LAX depart each Saturday night.

Why honeymoon in the Cook Islands? So why choose to spend what is arguably the most important and romantic trip of your life in the Cook Islands over a warm weather destination closer to home? For starters, the Canadian winter months are actually low season in the Cook Islands so rates tend to be lower in February and March. Travellers from the southern hemisphere have their sights set on the Cooks during the Canadian summer months when temperatures plunge in Australia and New Zealand.

The island chain's remote location also makes it an ideal honeymoon spot. While crowds descend on other destinations closer to North America you'll be enjoying your very own stretch of flawless sand in the South Pacific.

Getting around the Cook Islands is also incredibly easy. The main island of Rarotonga has only one road which runs around the its circumference and everyone speaks English, which makes bookings a breeze.

What can you expect when you arrive? Deplane in Rarotonga and you'll be greeted at the baggage carousel by Jake Numunga strumming away on his ukulele to instantly ease you into island time. "Papa Jake", as he's called, has been greeting tourists at Rarotonga International Airport for more than 30 years and the music man offers an appropriate introduction to the nature of Cook Islanders, who are renown for their warmth and hospitality.

What can you do in a week? A week is more than enough time to explore at least two of the Cook Islands. Divide your time between the volcanic island of Rarotonga and its sister island Aitutaki, a coral atoll. Rarotonga's lush green interior is a great place for quad tours and nature hikes. It's also the country's culinary hot bed with a number of outstanding restaurants and a weekend market that's not to be missed. After a few days in Rarotonga board a 45-minute flight, via Air Rarotonga, to Aitutaki, the country's second most visited island. Aitutaki is home to breathtaking stretches of sand and crystal blue waters that are perfect for exploring via lagoon cruise. You'll also want to make sure to take in an "island night" while in Aitutaki, an event that features a scrumptious traditional buffet and impressive fire dancing and hula show.

Cook Islands Honeymoon Guide

View more from our Cook Islands Honeymoon Guide ›

This article was originally published on May 06, 2013

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