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FREQUENTLY
ASKED
QUESTIONS


I get a lot of emails asking similar questions about the Islands.  Please don't stop sending emails...I love hearing from people all over the world and I'll always write back, but forgive me sometimes if it takes a few days.   In the meantime, though here are some of the most common queries and, more importantly, the answers as best I can provide them. 






This is an almost impossible one to answer because it depends how your local currency compares to the New Zealand dollar.   Australians and New Zealanders say the price of things is comparable to back home.  People from the UK and Europe will find it inexpensive.   Americans and Canadians simply tell me it's good value for money.  But anyone from the USA will be horrified at the price of petrol and diesel....visitors from Europe won't because it's similar to the price at home.
The Cook Islands are one of the safest places in the world.   Single travellers won't be hassled - it's not in the nature of the Islanders to hassle anyone.  And if you're worried about going out at night alone...don't...worry that is.  

Crime in general is at a very low level.  But still behave sensibly and don't leave vaulables on view if you're on the beach.  And the local police are forever reminding people that under the seat of a rented motorbike isn't a secure place either.  That said though, as a visitor, you're more likely to be hit by a falling coconut or breadfruit than be a victim of crime (and that's a fact, not a joke!)

Yes.  Entry visas are free.  They're granted on arrival and last for 31 days or 90 days if you're a New Zealand ciitizen.  You can stay for up to five months more, but you'll need to extend your entry permit a month at a time at the Department of Immigration in Rarotonga, and each extension will be subject to a fee.  New Zealanders can apply for a single three month extension.   And  I would strongly suggest that if you're planning a long stay (lucky you!), you contact the Tourism Department in your country before departure and get their advice.   That way you can avoid delays on arrival.
I can't even begin to answer this one.   The immigration and employment regulations are strict and complicated.   Work, even voluntary, is prohibited. You MUST contact the Cook Islands Government for advice.   You can get some basic information from their website.
Two of the 15 islands - Takutea and Manuae (pictured below) - are uninhabited, but access to both is restricted.   Takutea is administered by a Trust and special permission is needed from the Trust Chairman, High Chief Rongomatane Ariki if you want to visit. 
I'm sure you will be made very welcome.   The only contact some of the more remote islands have with the outside world is through visiting yachts.  But you need to go via the officially designated ports of entry.  These are Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu in the Southern Group, and Penrhyn and Pukapuka in the Northern Group. 

I would also recommend any yachtsman (or woman) to have a look at the Cook Islands pages in noonsite.com for specialist information for the cruising community. 


In particular, have a look at the following pages on this site...
 
ESSENTIALS:  Basic information about entry regulations, what to wear etc
FACT FILE: Everything from currency, health and internet access to language and driving
RECOMMENDED IN RARO: Personal recommendations on where to eat and party
COOK ISLANDS TOURISM OFFICES: List of addresses and contact numbers worldwide




ARE THE ISLANDS SAFE FOR SINGLE TRAVELLERS/WOMEN TRAVELLING ALONE?
WHAT'S THE NIGHT LIFE LIKE?
If your idea of a good holiday is looking for bars heaving with others from your own nation and having a loud, drunken time, go somewhere else in the world.   Nightlife in the islands is what you make it.   Rarotonga has plenty of places to go, but it's no Ibiza, Sydney or LA.   My favourite place on the capital island is the 'Whatever!' bar and restaurant - click here to find out more. 

If you're going to the outer islands, you will have to ask the locals but don't be suprised if, they suggest joining in the bingo night at the local church hall!   People make their own entertainment and it's a long long way from anything in a big city.   I had some great nights in Mauke just chatting to the locals.


ARE THE COOK ISLANDS EXPENSIVE?
I WANT TO STAY FOR A FEW MONTHS.  CAN I?
HOW DO I GET A RESIDENCE/WORK PERMIT?
CAN I VISIT/STAY ON ONE OF THE UNINHABITED ISLANDS?
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
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Whatever! bar and grill
Cook Islands $1 coin
Accommodation ranges from backpacker places for a few dozen NZ dollars a night to the luxurious which is, not surprisingly, a lot more expensive.  But wherever you stay and whatever you decide to buy, the scenery, beaches, crystal clear water and friendliness of the locals all come free!! 
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Uninhabited Manuae
There also occasional eco tours from Rarotonga.  Manuae is a marine conservation area and I would advise you to contact the tourism department as I haven't got any up to date information on access.   Under no circumstances should you try to visit or stay on either island without official permission.
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....And some answers
I'M SAILING ROUND/PLANNING TO SAIL ROUND THE PACIFIC AND WANT TO CALL IN AT SOME OF THE MORE REMOTE ISLANDS.   WILL I BE WELCOME?
Well, the obvious answer is to look around this website.    There's information about every single island, and I've tried very hard to ensure it's accurate.
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And if that doesn't help, write to me.   I answer all emails, but please bear with me it if takes a few days to reply.  And I promise you that you will NEVER get junk (or any other unsolicited) mail from me just because you've been in touch.
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