- Location: South Pacific
- Capital: Avarua
- Language: English and Maori
- Population: 11, 124
- Total Area: 236 sq km
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.70 liters
- The most popular drink: Unlike a lot of the islands in the South Pacific, whose beer looks and tastes like muddy water, the Cook Islands have their own brewery which craft boutique beers that are delicious. Matutu Brewery beers can be found throughout the island, especially at the more reputable hotels.
The Cook Islands have been called the best kept secret in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s easy to see why. Unlike some of their neighbors, islands who over the years have modernized to accommodate the tourist trade, the people and surroundings of the Cook Islands have not changed much at all and, because of this, offer a unique vacation to people who are searching for something other than high-rise hotels and day spas. The individuality between the 15 tiny islands is the hallmark of the culture of the Cook Islands.
Cook Islanders live in a true South Pacific paradise that has been unspoiled by the growing tourist industry. They are a beautiful and friendly people who are happy to welcome visitors to their home. Their greeting is Kia Orana (key-o-rah-na), meaning "Here Is Life". And if ever there was a place to learn what that phrase means, it is in the Cook Islands.
The cuisine of The Cooks Islands is healthy and delicious. A traditional breakfast starts with a platter of freshly sliced fruit which normally includes mango, papaya, bananas and musk melons. For lunch, you may eat traditional dishes such as a pickled fish salad (don’t turn your nose up until you try it!), or a paw paw salad, which is fresh and has a kick of garlic and chilli. For dinner, you would be silly not to try the Moana-Roa Mahimahi which is a local fish platter prepared in coconut cream and zesty spices.
The truly ‘local drink’ of the islands is coconut water. The nu coconuts are the green, younger ones and these are the ones that are used for their water content. Not necessarily known for its coffee, Cooks Islands actually offers two kinds of coffee that they grow and process themselves, and it’s rich, full-bodied and delicious. Cook’s Lager is the islands own beer. It’s cheap and quite tasty. If wine is more your beverage of choice, you won’t be disappointed as there are a plethora of imports from New Zealand wineries.
Celebrations & Holidays
The Vaka Eiva Festival is a relatively new one, and a great way to experience some local culture. Over 800 paddlers from around the world compete in open ocean racing and sprints on beautiful Muri Lagoon. Besides boat races there are many parties and cultural activities that are part of the celebration.
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Jenna Bruce, Fairlee, VT, USA.
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