FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS
Renowned for its snorkeling, scuba diving and calm lagoons, the Cook Islands is a Polynesian nation in the South Pacific halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Its 15 islands are scattered over a vast area of the South Pacific.
Its largest island, Rarotonga, is home to rugged mountains and Avarua, the country’s capital. To the north, Aitutaki Island has a large lagoon surrounded by coral reefs and sandy islets.
Just over 2,000km to the west of the Cook Islands lies Fiji, a Melanesian island nation made up of more than 300 islands and 540 islets in the South Pacific. Fiji is a castaway’s dream, renowned for its diving and snorkeling, pristine beaches and welcoming people.
So how can you possibly choose between Fiji and Cook Islands – two of the lushest, most tropical island paradises on the planet? Read on to discover whether you should head to Fiji or Cook Islands.
FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS VACATION – YOUR NEXT ISLAND GETAWAY
Among the most beautiful of all the Polynesian islands, the 15 Cook Islands lie scattered across the South Pacific ocean between French Polynesia and Samoa. Turquoise lagoons, volcanic peaks and palm-fringed white-sand beaches make the Cook Islands a dream destination.
Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands and it offers bustling markets, lively restaurants, scooter and car hire and guided snorkel tours from its laid-back capital, Avarua.
Around the lush peaks of the island’s interior lies a rich coastal plain where fertile soils produce bananas, coconut palms, papaya and coffee.
Around the island there are coral reefs that enclose a narrow lagoon that offers excellent swimming and snorkeling.
The second most visited island, Aitutaki is dotted with 21 tiny palm-fringed islets, or motu, with its beautiful lagoon being the star attraction. Other more remote islands attract adventurers, anglers, and real-life Robinson Crusoes.
Some of the most popular things to do on these islands include snorkeling, swimming, fishing and kayaking. On land there are hikes through lush jungles, such as the cross-island track which leads from the north coast up to the distinctive pinnacle rock Te Rua Manga (The Needle), one of Rarotonga’s most famous landmarks. It then leads via Wigmore’s Waterfall to the south coast.
If you’re finding it hard to choose between Fiji and Cook Islands, then Fiji is also naturally blessed with beauty. Fiji’s lush interior is packed with hiking tracks and mountain biking trails that make for a great day out exploring.
On Taveuni you can hike through the rainforest at Bouma National Park and head to the towering Tavoro Falls. This is a group of three waterfalls with pools that are perfect for swimming – perfect for a Fiji honeymoon. If you float on your back you’ll be rewarded with snapshots of colour as Fiji is home to many colorful species of parrot.
Fiji’s highest peak is Mount Tomanivi on Viti Levu which stands tall at 1,324 metres (compared to the highest peak on the Cook Islands, which is 653 metres). The hike is not for the faint hearted, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views across Fiji and the Pacific.
Underwater adventurers will be rewarded with myriad marine life including dolphins, corals, sea snakes and colorful, exotic fish.
Fiji is lucky enough to be home to five of the seven living species of sea turtles including the green, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley. The first three of these species also nest in Fiji from October to April every year. As a result of being spectacularly beautiful and tasty creatures, endangered sea turtles are sadly hunted.
At Turtle Island Resort the Turtle Conservation Program, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, helps save the lives of sea turtles in the Yasawa Islands – an archipelago of around 20 volcanic islands to the west of Fiji.
Each turtle is measured, weighed, tagged and released. When the turtle is found elsewhere in the world (those flippers propel them far and wide) everyone knows it was tagged at Turtle Island.
Activities in Fiji aren’t limited to underwater events. On the water, you’ll be spoilt for choice with kayaking, sailing and surfing.
The Mamanuca Islands – a volcanic archipelago lying to the west of Nadi and to the south of the Yasawa Islands – serve up some of the best surf breaks in the world, including Cloudbreak, off Tavarua Island.
FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS: CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS
Fiji and Cook Islands both offer interesting cultures rich in fascinating history, which means whether you choose a Fiji or Cook Islands vacation, you’ll be enriched by the people you meet and the stories they tell.
COOK ISLANDS CULTURE
The people of the Cook Islands celebrate their Polynesian culture and heritage which is best seen in its music and art. Traditions are celebrated through festivities and parades, with colorful costumes, showing off the best of Polynesian heritage.
On the Cook Islands tourists can experience some of their Polynesian traditions at Island Night cultural shows. Available at most resorts and cultural centres on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, these evening shows see locals share their exciting History through traditional music, song, dance and food.
Visitors can also see ancient ways of tribal life at one of the Cook Islands’ authentic village tours on Rarotonga or Aitutaki. You’ll be able to learn about tribal customs and the rich history of tribal warfare. You can also join a water-based cultural tour to learn more about the Cook Islands’ sea-faring history and love of the ocean.
There are also opportunities to visit local homes and sample different foods on progressive dinner tours in Rarotonga. You’ll be able to see home gardens, sample traditional local Cook Island dishes and freshly picked fruit.
According to island legend, Fiji history began when Chief Lutunasobasoba, the ‘Box of Blessings’ and his followers travelled across the seas and landed on Fiji. Historians think that the original Fijians actually came from Southeast Asia through the Malay Peninsula more than 3,000 years ago, when Polynesians came to live on Fiji but were later invaded and defeated by the Melanesians in 1500 BC.
Today Fijians representing the descendants of the Melanesians and the Polynesians have created a delightfully unique, friendly and fascinating society that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Fijian culture is a gift-giving culture. Food gifts such as raw or cooked oxen and whole pigs are usually accompanied by non-food gifts like bark cloth, kava or valuable whale’s teeth. Feasting and gifting is primarily associated with religious festivals and village marriages.
Food will be high on the list of priorities whether you choose a Fiji or Cook Islands vacation. Food is a strong element of Fijian and Cook Islands culture, with sustainable food practices, using local suppliers and traditional methods.
At Turtle Island Resort, you’ll love that most of the food is grown on the island or sourced locally. You can enjoy your own private tour of the five-acre organic vegetable garden, chicken coop and pigs. The vegetable garden supplies 80% of the food that is enjoyed by the guests and staff, which also includes beehives which provide the local honey.
You’ll also be able to visit the Turtle Island’s woodwork shop and joinery where most of the furniture is made by local artisans. Plus you’ll learn about the island’s ‘farm of light’ where the extensive solar installation in 2013 made Turtle Island one of the first ever clean energy eco-tourism resorts in the world.
FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS HONEYMOON
Nothing says honeymoon like a paradise island in the South Pacific. Whether you choose a Fiji or Cook Islands honeymoon you’ll be guaranteed a spectacular backdrop – think palm fringed beaches, white sand and turquoise water – plus you’ll be looked after with such warmth, that you won’t want to return home.
In Fiji most of the bungalows are thatch-roofed, with some sitting right in front of the sea, sand and surf, effectively making the stretch of coast in the front yard yours.
So when you’re not sunning yourself on your beach, you’ll be able to dive and snorkel the reefs, enjoy a kayak trip or take in a local tradition, such as a fire-walking ceremony.
Thinking of a honeymoon in the Cook Islands? This barefoot paradise is still undiscovered territory for many, which makes it a top spot if you’re looking for a romantic destination that feels uniquely yours.
BEST TIME TO VISIT FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS
Given their close proximity to each other you can expect the same weather in Fiji and Cook Islands. In this part of the world winter – more commonly known as the dry season – runs from May to November with temperatures ranging from 19°C – 29°C. The southern hemisphere summer – known as the wet season – runs from December to April and sees temperatures sitting at a comfortable 22°C – 33°C.
FIJI VS COOK ISLANDS: HOW TO GET THERE
There are currently four airlines flying to the Cook Islands – Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Air Tahiti. There are direct flights to Rarotonga from Auckland, Sydney, Los Angeles and Tahiti.
From Sydney the flight time is around six hours; from Los Angeles the flying time is just under 10 hours.
Fiji Airways is Fiji’s national carrier with daily direct flights from Sydney, Auckland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Singapore.
Arriving in Fiji you’ll land at Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu. From here, you can either stay at one of the many resorts or hotels or venture out to the smaller islands which requires another transfer either by boat, seaplane or helicopter.
EXPLORE TURTLE ISLAND FIJI
With its appeal of barefoot luxury and total seclusion, Turtle Island Resort offers a slice of untouched paradise. Shared with just 14 other couples, Turtle Island Resort really does feel like your own slice of private paradise. With 500 acres of lush forests to explore and 12 private beaches, at Turtle Island Resort you really can escape the crowds.
Get in touch today to start planning your next island getaway to Turtle Island.