If you’re hoping to bask in paradise close to home, we’ve found your ideal solution. The Cook Islands is perhaps one of the South Pacific’s best kept secrets, offering picturesque turquoise lagoons alongside lush, mountainous jungles. It is also home to some stunning hotels that suit all budgets. From beachfront resorts, to tropical hideaways, here are the island’s best.
Picture perfect: where to stay in the Cook Islands
Manea Beach Villas
Manea is the Cook Island word for beautiful, so it comes as no coincidence that this place has used the word in its title – and rightly so! Located in Rarotonga on the edge of Muri Lagoon, Manea Beach Villas provides a boutique experience, offering just seven villas.
If you’re travelling in numbers, go for the Mangawai Garden Villa which can accommodate up to six people. The three bedrooms offer split king-sized beds, while the fully-equipped kitchen and barbecue mean you can cook up a storm come evening.
As tempting as it may be to stay in your villa all day, we recommend getting wet in the resort’s super inviting outdoor pool that overlooks the picturesque lagoon. After all your fun, recline on one of the sun lounges and breathe in some island serenity for the afternoon.
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa
Overwater bungalows aren’t just reserved for the Maldives. The stunning island of Aitutaki is home to the über-indulgent Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, which offers a series of bungalows suspended in the turquoise waters of the lagoon.
Aspiring to the philosophy of romantic serenity, the adults-only, private-island resort is the only in the Cook Islands to offer dreamy overwater bungalows.
In keeping with the island’s culture, bungalows reflect a typical Polynesian décor, boasting thatched-roofs, pandanus-lined walls, and large sliding doors. Start the morning on your dreamy private deck, then walk down a series of steps which lead directly into the lagoon.
For all those lovebirds out there who have recently tied the knot, we recommend the Royal Honeymoon Pool Villa. You’ll fall smitten with its four-poster bed, private swimming pool, and bubbling hydrotherapy spa.
Tamanu Beach Resort
Dotted between a cluster of swaying palms on the beach, you’ll find the idyllic Tamanu Beach Resort. Offering 22 bungalows, this is the kind of place that successfully fulfils that fantasy of island paradise.
Our pick is the beachfront bungalow, which boasts a wide, furnished verandah, a king-size bed, and a walk-in shower. Could things get any better than reclining on an outdoor lounge and catching one of the island’s famed sunsets with a drink in hand?
As much as we love the bungalows, we have to admit the rest of the resort is pretty cool too. During the day, mingle in one of the two communal pools and catch up on some vitamin D on a sun lounge. If you’d like to get up and close and personal with Aitutaki lagoon, make use of the free kayaks and snokelling equipment.
If your stay happens to fall on a Sunday, you simply must attend one of the barbecue nights. Meet fellow guests, and dig into fresh fish, meat, and salads. All of this is accompanied by live music.
Little Polynesia Resort
The largest of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is the kind of place you see on postcards. Turquoise waters lap against long stretches of white sandy beach, while dense jungles adorn the island’s mountainous peaks. It’s unsurprising then that Rarotonga is a popular place to visit, and when deciding where to stay, Little Polynesia Resort is the ideal solution.
As part of the Pacific Resort Hotel Group, it comes as no surprise that Little Polynesia offers all the luxurious amenities we’ve come to expect from the brand. Dreamy thatched-roofed villas are peppered throughout the grounds, and offer walk-in rainfall showers, ocean views, and Polynesian style furnishings.
Spend the day floating in the azure-blue swimming pool which seamlessly melds into the ocean, or otherwise make use of the free snorkelling equipment and discover the lagoon.
Edgewater Resort & Spa
Palm trees, ocean views, dreamy communal pools – expensive price tag, right? In the case of Edgewater Resort & Spa, you can appreciate idyllic island life without breaking the bank.
Located in Rarotonga, this resort is ideal for those seeking a modest stay with all the necessary amenities. Whether you’re travelling in numbers or just with bae, accommodation options here vary from single-room apartments right through to three-bedroom villas.
Whichever option you choose, you can be guaranteed an indulgent stay thanks to all of the resort’s top notch facilities. Travelling with the kids and looking for a spot of respite? Don’t despair – the on-site kids club will have the little ones entertained for hours.
That leaves you time to unwind with an ‘oh-so-dreamy’ experience at the health spa. Treatments include facials and body wraps, and incorporate tropical coconut lotions and handmade scrubs.
Pacific Resort Rarotonga
When you envisage a stay in idyllic Rarotonga, chances are you’ve probably imagined something pretty much like Pacific Resort. Various thatched-roofed villas are available, but if you’re looking for an A-list kind of experience, you can’t surpass the premium beachfront villa.
As the name would suggest, the villa offers direct access to the pristine sands of Muri Beach. But it doesn’t stop there. Think two king-sized beds, a fully-equipped kitchen and bar, and a private courtyard. If you’re hoping to unveil your inner master chef, barbecues can also be hired.
If you don’t fancy the idea of cooking while on holiday, fret not, Pacific Resort has a multitude of eating options. If you want to get intimate with your +1, why not make use of the private dining option, which includes a one-to-one dinner served on a private balcony in the resort’s romantic hut?