The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands of which Rarotonga is the capital island and has the largest land area of 67 square kilometres. The population of Rarotonga is 12,200 (2008 census).
English is spoken by everyone. The local language is Cook Islands Maori and each island has a different dialect.
The currency used in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar. Both New Zealand and Cook Islands coins and notes are used.
There are 3 major banks ANZ, BSP (Bank of the South Pacific) and BCI (Bank of the Cook Islands). ATM machines are located outside the major banks. Banking facilities are provided at the airport for currency exchange
and cashing of travellers cheques. They are open for the arrival and departure of all international flights. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island at most shops and restaurants.
The dry season April to November has temperatures ranging from 18 to 27 degrees Celsius.
The wet season December to March has temperatures ranging from 21 to 29 degrees Celsius.
Warmth and sunshine can be enjoyed all year round with severe weather rare and infrequent.
Ligthweight casual clothing is the norm. A lightweight raincoat or umbrella is useful for tropical downpours or showers that occur. Smarter clothing is worn at Church services. Very brief attire such as bikinis should not be worn in shopping areas or public places as this may cause offence.
Avarua is the main shopping and commercial centre. Shops open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm Saturdays 8am to 12 noon. Most shops are closed on Sunday however Seventh Day Adventist stalls and smaller shops may be open.
Supermarkets have longer opening hours. The CITC supermarket at Avatiu is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays.
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. A Cook Islands drivers license is required and must be obtained from the Police Station in Avarua.
The Island Bus operates a regular service and circuits the island every hour. The bus will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on request. The round trip takes approximately one hour.
240 volts AC Hz/50 cycle. North Americans will need adapter plugs.
Visitors do not require entry permits if their stay is no longer than 31 days and they possess onward tickets.
Applications can be made to the Immigration Department on arrival for an extension for visitors wanting to stay more than 31 days, and permits may be granted.
Departure tax is now included in your airfare to Rarotonga.