Cook Islands – Escape to Paradise

Cook Islands – Escape to Paradise

The Cook Islands is a collection of 15 islands in the heart of Polynesia mid way between Tahiti and Tonga. Cook Islands travel is centred mostly around Rarotonga, the main population centre with the international airport. Rarotonga has high volcanic mountain peaks covered in tropical rain forest and lots of small beach resorts. Aitutaki is a small island 45-minutes flight to the north with attractive beaches and a beautiful lagoon and is the only other frequently visited island by tourists. Of the other islands, Atiu is good for eco-tourism and has a few guesthouses. The Cook Islands is a self-governing dependency of New Zealand with its own parliament but uses the New Zealand currency.

Rarotonga is the largest Cook Island being 67 sq. km in size – its population of 11,500 live around the coastal road. Here there are plenty of small beach resorts ideal for families and couples, and lots of self-catering bungalows and vacation homes for more independent travellers. The tourist infrastructure is well developed with some excellent day tours, good independent restaurants and a reliable transport network. Rarotonga’s main attractions are its lovely beaches, tropical mountain trails and laid back Polynesian lifestyle. Snorkelling is good along the south coast and there are several scuba diving companies with reefs being ideal for beginners and holiday divers.

Aitutaki is the only other tourist centre, a 45-minute flight from Rarotonga. It is a lot less commercial and ideal for honeymoons – stay here a couple of days and you’ll feel totally submerged in island style life. The villages are charming and although it lacks tropical mountains, the beaches are lovely. The main attraction, however, is one of the finest lagoons in the entire Pacific with good snorkelling and day cruises to the tiny uninhabited atolls where the beaches are exquisite.

Traditional dance performances are one of the icons of Polynesian life. Erotic hip swaying movements and upbeat drumming has come to resemble the archetypal Polynesian person – aesthetic and extremely seductive. Cook Island dancing is performed regularly at the resorts and there are several colourful competitions each year that are well worth experiencing.



Country Facts
Total islands: 15
Total land mass: 236 km²
Capital: Avarua
Main Island: Rarotonga
Int’l Airport: Rarotonga
Population: 18,000

Language: English, Maoris
Tourists: 80,000 per year
Accommodations: 60
Money: NZ$



Travel Highlights
1) Muri Beach, Rarotonga
2) Aitutaki Lagoon Cruise
3) Traditional Dances
4) Beach Bungalows
5) Fine Handicrafts
6) Cross Island Hike, Raro
7) Saturday Market, Avarua
8) Black Pearls
9) Sunday Church Service                       

10) Limestone Caves, Atiu

Happy Travels


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Travel Luggage Terms Unzipped, Part 2 – Hard Sided Luggage, Wheels & Bag Types

Continuing on with our luggage glossary, this week we explore the different types of hard sided bags, the different wheel types and explain different bag styles.

Hard-sided Luggage

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (or ABS for short) frequently combines with other materials to bring strength and durability to many brands of luggage sets. A synthetic plastic material easily molded into hard-sided luggage, it is usually added to other materials such as polycarbonate, creating strong shells designed to protect their contents. On its own, ABS is cheaper than polycarbonate, although polycarbonate offers higher-level strength, heat and impact resistance (in terms of impact resistance, ABS tops only PVC.) When looking for luggage, consider purchasing ABS in combination with another, stronger material for long-lasting support.


EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) is a softer, flexible type of thermoplastic usually combined with other materials to reinforce hard or soft-shelled luggage sets. It is typically used in soft plastic goods such as sports and shoe padding, and as a replacement for many traditionally rubber items such as hoses (the texture is similar to rubber, but without the odor.) Cheap and easy to mold, EVA is best considered as a reinforcement material in your luggage set.


For the benefits of hard-sided luggage sets with as little extra weight as possible, you may want to explore lightweight materials such as polycarbonate. A molded type of thermoplastic, polycarbonate is durable, lightweight, and extremely impact-resistant – the material, although not soft-sided, flexes upon impact, making it resilient to potential rough handling. Tough and nearly impossible to break or shatter, polycarbonate appears in items such as CDs, eyeglasses, sports materials, and even bulletproof glass. While more expensive than other plastics such as ABS or PVC and slightly heavier than polypropylene, polycarbonate offers the highest level of impact strength with lightness, keeping the contents of your luggage safe under any circumstances. It is an ideal choice for frequent travelers who need a higher level of protection, particularly if they are transporting easily breakable items.


Polypropylene, the lightest of all thermoplastic products, preceded polycarbonate as a material for hard-sided suitcases. Molded into coverings for hard-sided luggage sets, the material is very resilient and offers extra protection for your belongings. Despite being lighter, it is topped in impact-resistance by polycarbonate (but continues to surpass ABS or PVC.) It tends to fall into a more expensive price range than either ABS or PVC, and makes an excellent purchase for those who want the protection of hard-sided luggage in an extremely light form.


A lighter, more flexible type of moldable plastic, PVC is a resilient material frequently used to reinforce luggage sets. It offers less impact resistance than ABS, polycarbonate, or polypropylene, although it has the benefit of cheaper prices. Because of its higher levels of flexibility and elasticity, it effectively combines with other materials such as polypropylene or polycarbonate for support in hard-sided luggage sets.



A more traditional take on wheeled luggage sets are two inline wheels that travel only forwards or backwards. Although they may be less maneuverable than the spinner sets, these wheels drastically increase the ease of luggage transport, and have simplified the lives of travelers worldwide.


A spinner set uses four wheels, one at each corner of the bottom of your bag, which help to evenly distribute the weight of your luggage. The wheels can “spin” in any direction, maximizing maneuverability and allowing you to easily squeeze through tight spaces or aisles. Luggage with spinner wheels might roll both tilted like regular inline wheeled luggage or pulled using a handle or leash.

Types of Luggage

Duffel Bag

Duffel bags come in a variety of sizes, from carry-on to larger. They are cylindrical shaped and usually have straps for over-the-shoulder carrying, but some more recent versions also feature wheels. Duffels commonly accompany luggage sets as accessory pieces.

Garment Bag

Travelers with special pieces of clothing, such as a nice suit, find a perfect solution in a garment bag. The long, durable bag covers and protects your articles of clothing and prevents wrinkles during a long flight. Once at your hotel a garment bag should fold open and hang in the closet keeping clothes protected from damage and wrinkles.

Rolling Upright

Rolling uprights come in a variety of sizes and <luggage materials>, from carry-ons to 30” pieces. Also referred to as wheeled luggage, they travel upright, or vertically as you pull them by handle behind you. These bags represent the type of primary luggage used by most travelers.


Typically a variety of rolling upright, these softsided framed luggage sets come with bonus material behind an additional zipper constructed so that when the traveler needs a little larger suitcase rather than just that little extra stretch the packer merely unzips to access the expansion area and suddenly gains 1 to 3 inches of new packing room.

Toiletry Kit

A toiletry kit is a small bag, usually divided into compartments, designed to hold personal or necessary items during your flight or vacation like grooming supplies. Many zip shut or fold over onto themselves, making them small, compact, and perfect for carrying to any location.

Tote Bag

A tote bag usually resembles a large purse with straps for carrying over your shoulder, and frequently comes as an accessory piece to luggage sets. Tote bags are usually the perfect size to use as carry-on or personal items.

For further luggaga and packing advice contact us now:

Travel Insurance – What is the best Policy?

I have been having a bit of a frustrating and confusing experience with one of my clients regarding the travel insurance option provided through AirAsiaX website and what portion of her two tickets it actually covers which has prompted this topic today.

Travel insurance is a very important part of any holiday (particularly when going overseas) and the saying “If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel” is certainly a very valid one. You just don’t know what can happen once you are on the road and with the natural disasasters we have witnessed in the past few years causing massive travel delays and disruptions, the fine print of policies certainly need to be read well so you know exactly what coverage you have.

With that said though, the cost of travel insurance does seem to have sky rocketed in the past years which means shopping around to find an affordable policy that covers your needs has become more of a challenge.

We personally have a very comprehensive policy through our ANZ Platinum Visa card that only requires us to spend $250 on any part of our holiday before we travel, so airfares, hotels, car hire – whatever to do with our holiday and the policy is activated to cover all 4 of us.

So, check if you have any insurance cover with your existing credit cards or it could be worth joining up with a card that has a travel insurance policy to save some money when you next travel.

Other places to research for good value is with any other companies you already have car, home, contents and health insurance policies with as you get discounts for having multiple policies with many companies.

What are your thoughts and experience with travel insurance?

iPhone Travel Applications

iPhone Travel Applications

Here are a few handy travel applications for your iPhone.

1.    Recorder

The Recorder enables you to capture unforgettable sounds on your trips. NOTE: The iPhone 3.0 software update includes a free recorder. I still like this one better.

2.    Flashlight (free)

This free iPhone app (we like free apps!) helps to prevent that. Its default turns the entire screen a bright white (or other color you choose), which you can dim by sliding your finger across the screen.

3.    CurCon Currency Converter

A blessing for the math-impaired, this easy-to-use iPhone currency converter is one of those apps that also can save you money: It only updates when you tell it to — rather than automatically pulling in fresh data, which can get very expensive when you travel overseas. (Read more about How and Where to Exchange Currency.)

4.    Sit or Squat (free)

Anyone who’s been in a strange place and needed to find a bathroom will consider this app for the iPhone a godsend. It uses the built-in GPS to locate the nearest lavatory. User reviews help it to grow, so after downloading do what you can to add to the info base.

5.    Night Stand

Tired of waking up in the middle of the night in a hotel room and wondering what time it is? The Night Stand travel app works as a digital clock and has a built-in alarm. Note: Couples who don’t need to see the time in blazing numerals can use the free alarm built into the Clock app that comes with every iPhone.

6.    Flight Track

This travel app for the iPhone enables a user to track flights around the world. Want to know what gate your flight will be leaving from and the type of aircraft? You also get ETA info on arrivals, takeoffs, and landings as well as flight delays, cancellations, and more.

7.     Facebook (free)

Keep up with your Facebook friends when you travel. This iPhone app makes it easy to read their status updates, get phone numbers for contacts who may not be in your address book, and upload photos showing where you are and where you’ve been.

8.    NYC Subway KickMap Lite (free)

Even though I’m a native, I still need to check the NYC subway map once in a while and this easy iPhone app helps me find what I need. Using the familiar finger navigation, I can drag it to the location where I want to travel and then magnify the location by spreading two fingers apart. Maps similar to this in the App Store cover other urban areas and transportation systems.

9.    Global Wi-Fi Finder (free)

When you use your iPhone outside of the country without enabling additional data roaming services through your carrier, you are at risk for incurring steep additional charges. To avoid this, go to Fetch New Data in Settings. Slide Push to the off position and select Fetch Manually. Be vigilant about only accessing your email when you are in a free wi-fi zone, which this app can help you to find.

10.Maps (included)

The interface for the iPhone’s GPS app, Maps comes pre-installed on all units. Although it’s not as sophisticated as a dedicated GPS unit, it can help you get directions to travel from here to there. If a GPS signal isn’t available, the iPhone can still geotag you using wi-fi and cellular tower info when tracking is turned on.