Travel to the Cook Islands – Episode 238

categories: pacific travel


The Amateur Traveler talks to Melanie Waldman of about a recent trip to the Cook Islands in the Pacific.

Think of the Cook Islands as Tahiti without the French language and using the New Zealand dollar to make it more affordable.

Melanie tells us about this corner of Polynesia with beautiful resorts that she and her husband visited for their 10th anniversary.

They hiked the mountainous spine of Raratongo with Pa who knows all of the plants and their uses and cruised the small outer islands of Aitutaki with a guide named Captain Awesome.

They also took an archeology tour, drove the ring roads, shopped in the farmer’s market and just hung out on the beach drinking the cocktails of the moment.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes
Melanie’s Cook Islands photographs
New Zealand & Cook Islands
Air Rarotonga – the Airline of the Cook Islands
Aitutaki Discovery Safari Tours

Pacific Resort Aitutaki
Etu Moana
Rumours Rarotonga


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

4 Responses to “Travel to the Cook Islands – Episode 238”

Tihomir Rangelov



Thanks for the great podcast. The Cook Islands is definitely one of my favourite places in the world. I got there by chance in 2008, when I was booking a flight from LAX to Auckland and the travel agent mentioned that I could make a stopover on Rarotonga if I fly on a Sunday.
I did a similar trip (both Rarotonga and Aitutaki) but was definitely on a low budget. On Rarotonga I stayed in one of the two hostels. It wasn’t that smelly but it was definitely a party place. I heard the other hostel was much calmer, although not right on the beach… On Aitutaki I stayed with a local family. I had the time of my life and it cost next to nothing. You shouldn’t miss also going to the church service on Sunday and renting a kayak for a stroll down the small islands (motu). Bring a lot of sunscreen.

Another thing, which Melanie mentioned is that if you decide to go to Aitutaki and you have enough time, you should buy a Cook Islands Air Pass on Air Rarotonga, which includes Rarotonga – Aitutaki – Atiu – Rarotonga. It cost just a bit more than a return flight between Rarotonga and Aitutaki, but you get to see one more island. I wish I had paid attention to that before I booked…



Pa is still spruking the walk across it seems. Cook island is paradise. And worthy by the location. It is isolated. 4000km northish from Auckland makes it close to nowhere…! It is stunning though and I would recommend altough if you have been to Tahiti in my opinion its not even remotely similar.

English is everywhere, the currency is NZD, the food is great, the coral is not dead.

And for anyone that has seen the photos of aircraft landing at St Maarten. It happens here too.



Chris, thank you for this interview! I could literally talk to myself about the Cook Islands, so your giving me an aural forum is pretty much a dream come true.

I’d love to add that in August, when we were in the Cooks, the weather tends to be cool (an average of 70 degrees Fahrenheit), semi-overcast and especially on Rarotonga, quite windy. On both islands we visited, snorkeling was often a challenge because of choppy lagoon conditions. Apparently, February, March and early April are the ideal conditions for snorkeling and tanning, with the clearest skies and only gentle breezes.

I’m so happy we’ve met, and wish you and The Amateur Traveler a very happy 5th anniversary!



Chris, meeting you has been a joy! Happy 5th anniversary to the Amateur Traveler, and happy New Zealand to you this week — you’ll be so close to the Cooks…

What bears mentioning about the Cook Islands that I did not: weather. We visited in August, when temperatures hovered between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, skies were overcast for some part of every day, and sometimes-windy conditions made for choppy sailing and snorkeling. A day could start with a very cool morning, halfway through be bathed in brilliant sun and still feature one or two short spritzes of rain. Locals told us that the warmest, clearest weather (not often above 85 F) is found from late February to early April.

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