Picture perfect: where to stay in the Cook Islands

By Lachlan Probyn,

While many of us dream of an idyllic island escape to coveted islands such as the Maldives and Bora Bora, it’s sometimes difficult to turn this fantasy into a reality. That is until now. If you’re hoping to bask in paradise a little closer 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.

Stay in a dreamy overwater bungalow in Aitutaki

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.

Catch a sunset over Aitutaki Lagoon from your very own beachfront bungalow

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?

Find your idyllic patch of Polynesia in this luxurious resort

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.

Relax beside turquoise waters in this resort & spa in Rarotonga

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.

Indulge in pacific paradise in one of these beachfront bungalows

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.

Find serenity in one of these garden villas overlooking Muri Lagoon

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 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.