We have visited some absolutely incredible places in the last few years. But right at the top of that list now sit the Cook Islands. Think of it as Hawaii before the hordes. Or maybe Tahiti without traffic.
That being said, I’m going to guess that almost no one reading this has ever heard of the Cook Islands. I’m actually here and I’m not sure I could point to them on a map.
Here’s how PacificWeb.org describes this little corner of paradise:
The Cook Islands is a nation in the South Pacific, with political links to New Zealand. Its 15 islands are scattered over a vast area. The largest island, Rarotonga, is home to rugged mountains and Avarua, the national capital. To the north, Aitutaki Island has a vast lagoon encircled by coral reefs and small, sandy islets. The country is renowned for its many snorkeling and scuba-diving sites.
All this beauty and so few people to enjoy it. The Cook Islands has just 17,453 people on 15 tiny islands scattered across thousands of square miles of ocean. By way of contrast, Manhattan covers a very similar number of square miles, but has a population of 1,640,000. Not just different islands, different planets.
One two-lane road circles the island and it takes just 40 minutes to make the drive. It probably takes that long to drive a couple blocks in Manhattan. Four busses circle the island clockwise and four others circle counterclockwise. So you never have to wait for more than about fifteen minutes for a ride.
And on top of all that, all the people have big smiles splashed across their faces. But, then, why wouldn’t they?