Exploring the Cook Islands: Adventure and Discovery

Relinquish the hotel day bed and discover storytellers, safaris, villages, eco adventures galore with Craig Tansley. Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime in the Cook Islands. 

This story starts with two colourful characters: a bloke known only as Pa and another called Birdman George – and it ends with some spectacular treks around the Cook Islands. You’ll find Pa on the main island of Rarotonga, where he established his cross-island treks.

Pa's trek Cook  Islands
Learn about medicinal plants as you trek through the Rarotonga jungle on one of Pa’s cross-island treks

For years, the dreadlocked Pa has been leading these gruelling 3.2km hikes across the island, and while he has recently relaxed from the extreme walking side of the business, his treks live on. Don’t expect this to be a walk in the park, it takes 3.5 hours to reach the mountain top for spectacular panoramic views. You’ll cross a stream, which can be a raging river at times, before reaching Wigmore’s Waterfall. Along the way, Pa’s team talks about sustainability, the natural environment, healing remedies and ancient and spiritual knowledge. To meet the man himself, join Pa on a more gentle nature walk through noni plantations and paddy fields, and over streams to the Rarotongan jungle.

Related: The Ultimate Travel Guide to The Cook Islands (everything you need to know!)

Take a dip in hidden waterfalls deep in the jungle

Over on the island of Atiu you’ll find Birdman George (yes, you’ll meet George of the jungle). George will introduce you to a variety of plants, food and medicines, and birds and animals. You’ll also visit lakes and beaches, and enjoy a picnic on Taungaroro beach. 

Back on Rarotonga, swap your walking shoes for bike pants and jump aboard Storytellers Eco Tours where you’ll cycle through lanes and tracks of the main island, highlighting the region’s rich history and heritage. For those looking for wheels of a different kind join Raro Safari Tour, which takes visitors to some of Rarotonga’s more remote locations. 

The Cook Islands is also the perfect place to go whale watching

Want to explore the ocean, too? Ariki Adventures offers a stand-up paddleboard night tour. For 90 magical minutes you’ll be taken to the beautiful lagoons of Rarotonga and guided by a special lighting system, which reveals the wonders of the water after dark. Oh, and for those who love a little luxury and adventure, Ariki Adventures even offers a cocktail paddle tour. Yes, this tour combines an afternoon and night paddle and then stops off at a nearby resort for a cocktail. The perfect end to an adventure-filled day!

Dreaming of escaping to the Cook Islands? Find romantic accommodation and travel inspiration here.

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