Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Permanent Floral Perfume a Highlight of Island Stay

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Permanent Floral Perfume a Highlight of Island Stay

Article excerpt

GETTING THERE:

More information at cookislandstravel.com

Three international airlines fly to the Cook islands, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Jetstar, and connect with regional flights.

THE welcome envelopes you the moment you have passed through immigration at Rarotonga airport in the Cook Islands.

Uncle Jack is on the ukulele singing an island song and Aunty Nane is waiting with flowers and puckered lips.

There's a lot of greeting kisses in the Cook Islands and, along with the omnipresent fragrance of gardenias and frangipanis, it's most agreeable.

Aunty Nane, from Cook Island Tourism, welcomes most planes and is the epitome of island hospitality with her Ei Katu (flowered headband) and vibrant mu mu skimming fabulous curves. Anyone over a certain age is automatically referred to as Aunty or Uncle as a matter of Cook Island fondness and respect.

As South Pacific tropical utopias go, the Cook Islands is right up there.

Just a five-and-a-half-hour flight from our east coast takes you to this Eden of cheek-kisses and perfumed flowers and white sand and gin-clear water and, perhaps best of all, not a high-rise in sight (nothing taller than the palm trees).

A coral reef encircles the island like a white daisy chain to create a calm lagoon of turquoise water that not only beguiles but also ensures safe swimming and endless water sports. The entire island is a snorkeller's wish come true. Just don flippers and mask and step off the beach into coral and colour. Or if you want more, Kave and Julie Tamaariki of Ariki Holidays will take you further out with a sea scooter to whiz you speedily through coral canyons, over giant clams and iridescent fish.

Beachfront resorts are as plentiful as the activity options and the dining choices are profuse.

Sitting on a beach bean-bag on the clean sand at the luxe Pacific Resort Rarotonga with its 2.2ha of tropical gardens on the Muri lagoon is an option that is hard to beat. …

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