Thinking about a South Pacific vacation? Then take a closer look at Tahiti vs Cook Islands for some truly tropical inspiration.
The Cook Islands is a Polynesian nation of 15 islands that lie seemingly scattered across the South Pacific. Halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, the islands are renowned for their exceptional snorkeling, white sand beaches and breathtaking lagoons.
The 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.
You’ll find Tahiti in the South Pacific Ocean 4,400 km south of Hawaii, 7,900km from Chile and 5,700km from Australia.
Here is an island archipelago with black-sand beaches, lagoons and waterfalls, colorfully brought to life in the artwork of French artist Paul Gauguin.
Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia and is divided into Tahiti Nui (the larger, western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula). Tahiti is also where the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed with Marlon Brando, firmly cementing its reputation as an idyllic, desert island.
If you’re considering a South Pacific vacation and you’re trying to decide between Tahiti or Cook Islands, then cast your eyes a little further west on the map and you’ll come to Fiji.
Lying due west of Tahiti and Cook Islands is the Melanesian island nation of Fiji comprising more than 300 islands and 540 islets in the South Pacific. Fiji is your typical Robinson Crusoe-inspired island dream, renowned for its diving, snorkeling, pristine beaches and warm welcoming people.
So how can you possibly choose between Tahiti and Cook Islands? Read on to discover which of these island paradises – Tahiti or Cook Islands – is for you. You might even find that Fiji ticks all the boxes too.
TAHITI OR COOK ISLANDS VACATION
One person’s idea of the perfect vacation can be very different from another’s. You might love nothing more than lying on your sunbed, topping up your tan and cooling off in the sea. Then again you might prefer a bit of action on your vacation with scuba diving, snorkeling and 4WD tours.
Whatever your preference, you can rest assured you’ll find something to suit your vacation pace in Tahiti or Cook Islands. You’ll probably find something you’ll love in Fiji too.
The largest island in French Polynesia, there’s a huge amount of things to do in Tahiti. It’s famous for its black-sand beaches and for inventing surfing. The most legendary wave, Teahupoo, is a reef break on the island’s southern tip, home to the Billabong Pro surf competition each year. The sand gets its dark hue from lava and the most spectacular time to see the sand is at sunset.
If you’re craving white-sand beaches, then Tahiti won’t disappoint. Head to La Plage de Maui on Tahiti’s southern shore. This stretch of dazzling shoreline is also good for swimmers and stand-up paddle boarding as there is a nearby shallow lagoon.
Drag yourself away from the beaches and snorkeling and you’ll find unique flora and fauna at the Botanical Gardens, local arts and crafts at Papeete Market and Huahine Natural Aquarium.
There’s also plenty to keep adventure seekers occupied with hikes to Aorai Mountain – Tahiti’s second tallest peak – or treks to the Three Waterfalls on the north-eastern part of Tahiti Nui.
To soak up Tahiti’s culture, think about visiting in July when you’ll be able to enjoy the annual Heiva I Tahiti, a grand celebration of local dance and culture.
Snorkeling, swimming and kayaking are just some of the most popular things to do on a Cook Islands vacation.
Turquoise lagoons, volcanic peaks and palm-fringed white-sand beaches really do make the Cook Islands a dream destination.
On land, there are plenty of hikes through lush jungles to get your heart-rate pumping. Why not try the cross-island track which leads from the north coast up to the 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.
Rarotonga – the largest of the Cook Islands – offers lively restaurants and bustling markets. 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.
Can’t decide between a Tahiti or Cook Islands vacation? Then take a closer look at Fiji.
Naturally good looking, 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. These three waterfalls are perfect for a dip. Float on your back and you’ll see glimpses of colour as parrots fly overhead.
Fiji’s highest peak is Mount Tomanivi on Viti Levu which stands at 1,324 metres tall. It’s not an easy hike but the views across Fiji and the Pacific are well worth it.
Back down to sea level, Fiji’s underwater world will blow your mind. The crystal clear water surrounding Fiji’s islands is home to myriad marine life including dolphins, corals 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.
If you’re a turtle fan, then take a closer look at Turtle Island Resort where 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 everyone knows it was tagged at Turtle Island.
TAHITI VS COOK ISLANDS HONEYMOON
Whether you choose Fiji, Tahiti or Cook Islands for your honeymoon, you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome – and we’re not just talking about the weather.
Pacific Islanders are known worldwide for their warmth and generosity and they will make you feel extra special from the moment you arrive.
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.
The Fijians also love to cook and Fijian cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest in the Pacific. There’s a strong emphasis on root vegetables, like taro and cassava, which is used in almost every dish. And, as an island nation, Fiji is blessed with an abundance of fresh seafood like fish, octopus, and shellfish.
A Cook Islands honeymoon offers something of a ‘wow’ factor too. This barefoot paradise is still undiscovered territory for many tourists, which makes it a top spot if you’re looking for a romantic destination that feels uniquely yours.
In Tahiti, your honeymoon will undoubtedly include a stay in an overwater bungalow as they were practically invented here. As the largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti has miles of beautiful coastline to explore, from secluded, black-sand coves to white-sand shorelines that surfers will love.
And when it comes to cuisine, you’ll love Tahiti’s distinctive French influence with the abundance of the Polynesian culture. One of the most famous dishes of Tahiti is fresh fish served poisson cru style. This dish can be prepared with white or red tuna marinated in lemon juice, onion, tomato, cucumber, garlic, spring onion and coconut milk.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TAHITI VS COOK ISLANDS
The best weather in Tahiti can be found in the dry season, from May to October. From November to April temperatures rise and you can expect a bit more rain, making it humid and wet.
The peak season and the most expensive time to travel is July and August, while the shoulder seasons of April to May and November to March are the best times to get a deal to Tahiti.
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.
EXPLORE TURTLE ISLAND FIJI
If you’re thinking about Fiji for your next island adventure, then have you considered Turtle Island Fiji? On the shores of the famed Blue Lagoon, Turtle Island Resort inhabits a private isle within Fiji’s Yasawa Islands. Offering barefoot luxury and total seclusion, Turtle Island Resort is shared with just 14 other couples, which makes it feel like you have the place to yourselves. And 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 vacation to Turtle Island.