Our Complete Guide to a Pristine Honeymoon in the Cook Islands

Swim, snorkel, and relax in the sand in a remote, unspoiled tropical paradise in the South Pacific.
Sky view of the Cook Islands in Polynesia South Pacific.
Didier Marti / Getty Images
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Jan 21, 2023
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

For a tropical honeymoon in a remote location, consider visiting the Cook Islands, an island-nation comprised of 15 volcanic islands and coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. Named for the famed navigator Captain James Cook, a Cook Islands honeymoon offers unspoiled nature, plus five-star boutique hotels. ​​With just 93 square miles of land total–spread between Tahiti and Samoa–the destination is the hideaway most couples envision for a romantic getaway.

"Picture paradise and the Cook Islands are better," says Kristin Winkaffe, founder of Winkaffe Global Travel. "The blue ocean is complemented by white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, green mountains, swaying palms and colorful coral." With all the time it takes to get there, you'll want to plan at least a seven-day stay but trust us: once you've arrived, you won't want to leave.

Are the Cook Islands Good for a Honeymoon?

Surrounded by deserted white sand beaches, lagoons and buildings no taller than coconut palm trees (thanks to a government mandate), "you almost feel like Robinson Crusoe," says Jihane Sejai-Smith, travel expert at Black Tomato. Along with gorgeous scenery and seclusion, newlyweds will find comfortable resorts without the pretense. Locals are also warm and friendly, says Winkaffe.

The Pros of a Cook Islands Honeymoon

Since the islands are remote with few activities for kids, they tend to attract more couples than families, says Winkaffe. Plus, this destination feels almost untouched, since it receives fewer visitors than other South Pacific islands, like Fiji and French Polynesia, says Sejai-Smith. Because English is the official language, it's easy to converse with the locals, points out Winkaffe. During her visits, Sejai-Smith has found the islanders to be very warm and welcoming.

The Cons of a Cook Islands Honeymoon

Expect a long flight. The Cook Islands is easier to reach from the West Coast, couples can fly direct from LA to Auckland, New Zealand, or Sydney, Australia. Then, they need to catch another flight to Rarotonga (the main island), explains Winkaffe. As another obstacle: getting to and staying in the Cook Islands tends to be pricey. Plus, newlyweds who prioritize a vibrant nightlife, shopping and restaurant scene might be disappointed. The emphasis, instead, is on water-related outdoor activities.

The Best Times of Year to Go on a Cook Islands Honeymoon for Good Weather

The Cook Islands enjoy year-round balmy, tropical weather. Even in the height of summer (remember, that means January and February), highs are in the 80s. Though warmer, November through March is also the rainy season, but rain generally comes in bursts and doesn't last all day. Honeymooners can anticipate the best weather between April and November, otherwise known as the dry season.

Expect the most crowds during July and August (the high season), says Winkaffe. For the lowest prices, she recommends planning a November trip, since the temperature should be mild, and the prices discounted. Overall, flying this far is going to be an investment any time of year. The good news is the Cook Islands are considered a steal as opposed to other destinations in Polynesia.

Things to Do During a Cook Islands Honeymoon

Book a Tour Through Your Guide or Hotel

Winkaffe recommends arranging most activities through a travel advisor or hotel, since few pre-packaged trips are available. To travel on your own but with a dedicated driver and guide, she suggests booking a tour with a set itinerary. For one that takes couples to Rarotonga and Aitutaki, ending in New Zealand, she mentions Swain Destinations Island Adventurer trip.

Explore Pristine Beaches

On Rarotonga, Winkaffe recommends hitting Titikaveka Beach. "Even if you forget to bring a snorkel, you'll still be able to see the schools of colorful fish through the crystal-clear water," she says. Aitutaki, a one-hour flight from Rarotonga, has the most beautiful white sand beach and stunning turquoise lagoon, says Sejai-Smith. "It's a great place to prop up on a beach chair and enjoy the gorgeous scenery," explains Winkaffe.

Snorkel Through the Best Lagoons in the Pacific

"The Cook Islands are known for being one of the best lagoons in the South Pacific, with a fantastic variety of fish and gorgeous coral," says Sejai-Smith. To explore the sea life (like turtles, rays, eels, octopi, and reef fish), book the Rarotonga Snorkel Trip through Snorkel Cook Islands to visit Avaavaroa, which also includes an island feast, suggests Winkaffe.

Where to Stay for a Cook Islands Honeymoon

Te Vakaroa Villas, Rarotonga

On Muri Beach, this adults-only spot offers an unsurpassed view of Muri Lagoon and overlooks the South Pacific Ocean, says Sejai-Smith. With only six villas, it feels very remote and off the beaten path, she adds.

Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa, Rarotonga

Also on Muri Beach, these 13 villas overlook a lagoon. Each one features a kitchen and private pool. The five-star property also offers a spa.

Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Aitutaki

Featuring beachfront bungalows and villas, a restaurant, and spa, this adults-only resort is Winkaffe's top pick on this island.

Paul Gauguin Cruises, the Southern Pacific

For an unconventional accommodation option through the Cook Islands, Winkaffe recommends a luxury cruise for comfort and easy access to the destination. Specifically, for couples who want to maximize their time, the recommended itinerary is the 12-day Cook Islands and Society Islands sail.

What to Pack for a Cook Islands Honeymoon

Since the sun can be very strong, sunscreen is also a must, says Sejai-Smith. Since the destination is tropical, you'll want to pack the likes for daytime activities, as well as beach-friendly options for evening dinners and cruises. "Bring a swimsuit and good hiking shoes—anything else is just extra," concludes Winkaffe.

–Kate Wood contributed to this article.

Up Next
  • the knot travel trends 2024 piece couple travels white lotus streaming on hbo max planetary alignment
    The Top Travel Trends You'll See in 2024