Spring Break is over. I am still mentally recovering from a failed trip to the Dominican Republic. We are in the middle of packing up our house to move. And a month of summer travel is looming ahead of us. Even with all of this, we couldn’t resist a quick mom and son trip to paradise.
Paradise for me is a place where we can get up and explore easily without a lot of precautions. Paradise to my little guy is unspoiled nature to explore, beaches to comb for seashells and culture to immerse himself in. We can’t wait to experience all of this on our next adventure…to the Cook Islands!
If you are like most people you are thinking “Ohh! That sounds exotic. But wait, where is that exactly?”
See that red dot in the middle of the ocean? That is where we are going. The Cook Islands are comprised of 15 small coral atolls and volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Below the equator, but not crossing the International Date Line, these small islands pack a big punch for family adventure (or so we hear!).
The two main islands are Rarotonga and Aitutaki, with more than 10,000 of the country’s 15,000 inhabitants living on Rarotonga. The island is 32 km (20 miles) in circumference. To put that into perspective, I drive my son 12 miles each way to school every day! Aitutaki is known as “Honeymoon Island” for it’s idyllic white sand beaches and romantic vibe. It looks breathtaking!
Now that you know where the islands are and how remote they are, you might be surprised to know that it’s not actually *that* far, well for us it’s not at least! A direct red-eye flight on Air New Zealand will get us to Rarotonga only a few hours after we will take off from LA (oh we love time changes!). For us this is a perfect flight – leave at midnight, arriving 10 hours later at 7 in the morning, with no time wasted!
We are looking forward to checking out two family friendly hotels on the island – the Edgewater Resort & Spa and the Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa. Both boast great kid’s club programs and direct access to the beach with shallow lagoon swimming for the littles. Can’t wait to test it out ourselves.
Cian is most excited about adding to his shell collection. He has a ton of shells from our trip to Fiji, our spring break staycation in Huntington Beach and soon from the Cook Islands. I am excited to learn more about the Polynesian roots and culture and to do a cross island trek with the locally famous “Pa” who is an expert on medicinal plants on the island.
We have a packed itinerary with some great stuff planned, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises just yet! Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up on what we are doing. In the meantime, I have been doing some research on the islands that I wanted to share with you.
General Information on the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are named after British explorer Captain James Cook who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777. The islands became a British Protectorate from 1888 and were included within the boundaries of New Zealand. They remained part of New Zealand until 1965, at which point they became a self-governing territory. However, today New Zealand is still tasked with overseeing the country’s foreign relations and defense. The Cook Islands, along with several other territories make up the Realm of New Zealand.
Closely linked in culture and language to the Maori in New Zealand, about 87% of Cook Islanders are Polynesian Cook Island Maori. Through legends handed down by each generation, it is believed that the Polynesians arrived to the islands in 800 AD. Inhabitants of the northern islands are believe to have come from Samoa and Tonga, with the Southern Islands’ populations coming from the Society Islands and the Marquesas. It is thought that voyagers from the Society Islands are the ones who brought religion, cultural traditions, medicine and the Maori language to the Cook Islands.
The main currency used in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar. However, they do have their own local currency which includes triangle coins. I can’t wait to collect some of these!
Surprisingly, the Cook Islands are only 3 hours behind Pacific Standard Time. The Cook Islands are one of the last places on earth to see the sun set each day (American Samoa being the last). This is either going to be great for adjusting or hard with a child who will wake up at 3 a.m.!
The entire country’s population is less than 15,000 with the majority living on only 1 of the 15 islands. However, in New Zealand more than 50,000 people identify as being from the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands Maori is the official language, but we have heard that everyone speaks English. Even though we can get by in English, I always like to learn a few words in the local language. Here are some we have been practicing!
Aere ra = Goodbye
Meitaki = Thank you
‘Ae = yes Kare = no
Kai = food
Ra = sun
Moana = ocean
Maunga = mountain
‘Ura = to dance
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