BEFORE YOU BOOK
Before you book your beachfront accommodation in Rarotonga, there are a few things you should read about to make your visit more comfortable. Find out how warm it may be, so you pack the appropriate clothing, work out how you want to carry your currency and take note of when the shops in Rarotonga open and close. (You will probably prefer to be in your beautiful beachfront accommodation with a treat or two to hand!)
The Cook Islands are renowned for their pleasant, temperate climate, being sunny most of the year round.
The cooler months are June to August, while November to March marks the warmer season, where occasional tropical showers can be expected. The drier months from April to November have an average temperature of about 26°C, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 22°C and 28°C. Severe weather is rare and infrequent.
Cook Islands (1996 Census): 18,034 Rarotonga (Capital): 10,337
The currency used in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The Westpac and ANZ Banks in Avarua are open Monday to Friday 9:00am – 3:00pm. In addition visitors can exchange travellers cheques and principal currencies at larger stores and hotels.
Banking facilities are also provided at the airport for currency exchange and cashing of travellers cheques. They are open for the arrival and departure of all International flights. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island at most shops, and restaurants.
EFTPOS facilities are becoming more widespread throughout local businesses and cash advances on major credit cards are accepted and ANZ ATM machines have been installed, but are still infrequent.
Cook Islanders are devout Christian followers and Sundays is regarded island-wide as a day of rest and for them mandatory attendance at church. You will find few shops or tourist activities open on this day, other than petrol stations and half a dozen restaurants.
While The Cook Islands are informal and the dress is casual, it is recommended that very brief attire such as bikinis not be worn in shopping areas or public places outside of the beach and resorts, as it may cause offence in some places.
SONG AND DANCE
An intrinsic part of the Cook Islanders lifestyle is their dance. Each island has its own historical dances, which are a form of storytelling and these are practised assiduously from early childhood. There are numerous competitions throughout the year on each island and these are hotly contested. Cook Islanders are regarded as amnongst the finest Polynesian dancers anywhere and have won many international awards.
While the rest of the world is well aware of the allure of the Hawaiian hula and the Tahitian tamuré, the Cook Islands hura is far more sensual and fierce. Every major hotel prides itself on the performance it puts on at least once a week on Island Night when guests, selected by the dancers, are led onto the floor to show what they can do.
The Cook Islands talent for music both in the song and dance can be seen at the numerous festivals throughout the year. There are numerous string bands who create an unheard of range of ingenuous music when they play at restaurants, hotels and concerts as they combine modern electronics with traditional ukeleles fashioned from coconut shells.