Gayle Zielke, president of First Choice Travel and Cruise, South Pacific Specialist says, "Flying from LA on Air New Zealand was a breeze. I really enjoyed the Air New Zealand flight headed for Rarotonga International Airport. It was about 9 1/2 hours and even though that seems long, I slept through almost the whole flight.  I missed the late dinner but woke up just in time for the breakfast before we arrived. 

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Cooks and Aitutaki, compliments of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and Travel2 (Islands in the Sun).  Don't get too excited or jealous, there is not a FREE trip out there, we did pay for our way.   

From the minute I arrived I knew it was going to be an adventure to remember.  Aqua blue waters, white sand beaches, small boutique resorts and friendly smiling faces of the Cook Islanders is what I will always remember.




Picked up at the airport in a limo is certainly the best way to be greated after a long flight like that. Checking out the resort, Te Vakaroa Villas and getting settled in is next on the list.  I have so many client interested in villas and condos who would love this type of accomodation right on the beach.  We were right next to the most wonderful restaurant too.  Glad our villa included breakfast as most of the hotels, resorts and villas do on Raratonga.  This is a great saving compared to some other similar islands.  This place was comfortable, new and beautiful and I couldn't wait to experience a walk on this beautiful stretch of beach!


Lots of exciting things to see and do while in Rarotonga:


Try a welcome brunch on board Pacific Resorts Lagoon Cruiser.


We visited a minature golf course and enjoyed the best lunch at this little out of the way spot ...not to be missed! 


Another way you can experience the real Cook Islands… A progressive dinner, visiting local homes is a rare opportunity to enjoy local foods and also to gain insight into how Cook Islanders live, work and relax! 

For some real authentic local flavor and culture visit the Polynesian Show.  Watch the dancers, feel the beat of the drums and dance along.  Just stay away from the fire dancers. There is usually a show every night somewhere on the island.

Rent a scooter to get up close and personal, explore and meet the locals.  Just take it slow and easy, there is no rush. 


Shopping: Pungana’nui Cultural Market

Have a cultural experience and shop where the locals do! You may also wander into town to do some last minute shopping in the stores. Remember… In the Cook Islands shops close at noon on Saturday!


Deep Sea Fishing was another new adventure for me.  Two of in our group caught some beautiful colored Dorado fish like Mahi Mahi.  We had a great sea captain and crew who really knew what they were doing.  (Saw a couple of the guys at the local club a couple of days later).  The captain cut up the fish for us to take back to our hotel where the chef prepared it sashumi, pan fried and broiled.  Nothing compares or could be better than to eat your own catch! 


We really enjoyed our Jungle Jeep Safari trip all over the island.  It felt like the island was ours to explore.   This jeep trip would be fun for all ages, a soft adventure tour will take you into our mountains crossing streams, up to panoramic views, as well as to our ancient sites and historical landmarks.  A visit to the perfume factory that really offered a variety of specialty drinks, gifts, perfume and more for anyone dropping in was a great stop.  




A big hit with the crowd was when we stopped off at the local brewery and tried some COOKS LAGER at their FREE Beer Tasting! Visit REKAREKA when you are thirsty and looking for some real fun!


Blend culture, tradition and real 4WD adventure discovery all in one!  We had a fun, knowledgeable Tour Guide who had some fascinating stories of his Cook Island ancestors and information on the islands past and present.    




Just a short flight from Rarotonga will take you to PARADISE.....Aitutaki.  Aitutaki has the most amazing beach lagoon I have ever seen.  Looks as close to Bora Bora's lagoon as I have ever seen at first but without all the attitude and $$$$. You would jump for joy too if you seen how beautiful the lagoon is.          


In Aitutaki you must take in the local show.  Islands Fire – Tamanu Beach Cultural Fire & Dance

An Island Night dinner and performance of Cook Islands song, dance, fire dancing and more from our talented and dynamic cultural group.  Watch the sun melt beyond the horizon, looking over the sparkling Aitutaki lagoon before the excitement of our traditional Fire and Dance Show!


During your stay you must try a lagoon cruise (we took the Bishops Lagoon Cruise including BBQ Lunch) to visit a deserted island like the world famous One Foot Island and some other ones too. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit, sunscreen, camera, hat and insect repellant. You can take your passport too as you may want to get it stamped at the Post office on One Foot Island. Authentically Aitutaki!! Even visiting on a lagoon cruise

with a small group is still like having it all for your own for a day. You can swim or snorkel to your hearts content.               


The Cook Islands is the perfect place for just relaxing or to find a little adventure at the same vacation spot.  A small Pacific island with aqua blue waters and where white sand beaches await the lucky visitors to this quiet remote island. The beaches are not crowded like many caribbean or other islands you might be used to.  In the evening you can go out and sample the food at Trader Jacks for freshly caught fish of the day, join the fun at a local show, (we saw the equivalent to an American Idol show which was so fun), we went to the local night club and danced our shoes off!

Authentic, plenty of local flavor, no high rises or traffic lights, always friendly faces (because they have a reason to smile)


The Cook Islands are not as pricey as some of the other Pacific Islands.  Small boutique hotels, villas (the Cooks call these resorts SELF CATERING), some accomodations are luxury over the top beach front villas and amazingly are affordable too. 


Are you feeling adventurous? Can you imagine yourself on one of these beachfront properties?  I can send you there for 7 -14 nights and you will be surprised at how affordable this exciting vacation will be!


Want some information on Weddings in the Cook Islands?



"Travel is not a luxury is a necessity! I would love to recommend a vacation for you that will exceed your expectations!"

Gayle Zielke, MCC, President
First Choice Travel and Cruise

Wedding Specialist
Tahiti Tiare, Fiji Matai, Cook Islands and Hawaii Akamai Specialist