This is the transport that greeted us when we landed at AITUTAKI.  There was no speedometer, and no windows, but there was the best tour guide I've ever met.    He told us proudly he'd been on British television ("The Generation Game" for those that remember it!) demonstrating the dancing of the islands.  He and a fellow Aitutakian who accompanied us on the boat trip sang us Polynesian songs on the way back from our tour round the motus.  This really is a "must do" trip.
Find out more about the day trip, adventure tour and the inter island air services at the Air Rarotonga web site.  Islands served are Aitutaki, Rarotonga, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke, Mangaia, Penrhyn, Manihiki and Pukapuka.  You can check out a detailed timetable on line.   The islands from the air are stunning...have a look.
Only one shipping company currently operates services between the islands, although vessels do sail from other ports.   Details are published daily in the local island newspapers.   Shipping contacts and movements are also published on the web - click here for the latest information.  Remember that if you're going to some of the outer islands, it could be many weeks or even months between ships.

If you're planning to sail to the islands, there are five designated ports of entry...Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu in the Southern Group, and Penrhyn and Pukapuka in the Northern Group. If you're a yachtsman (or woman) have a look at the Cook Islands pages in noonsite.com for specialist information for the cruising community. 



Palmerston Yacht Club
Not all land transport is quite like I encountered on Aitutaki (see picture above)! The stunning scenery makes walking a pleasure, but avoid doing it when the sun is at its hottest.  

On Rarotonga, the best travel tip is to take the Cook's Island Bus which circles the island, clockwise and anti-clockwise throughout the day and into the late evening.  If you're going to use it regularly, you can buy a day pass or a book of 10 tickets.  Remember though...there's no evening service on Sundays.



Transport Aitutaki style
BY AIR
BY SEA
BY LAND
Palmerston Yacht Club
Created by yachties as a bit of a joke
Air travel has opened up the islands like never before, but it's quite costly.  Ships are still an important lifeline, particularly for the outer islands, but their irregular schedules mean that few tourists have the time to use them.  So, this page is just giving a few pointers about getting around.  
Air Rarotonga is the airline of the Cook Islands and operates scheduled services to nine of the islands.  They also run a Northern atolls adventure tour taking in PENRHYN, MANIHIKI and PUKAPUKA (note that this is currently suspended because of a shortage of fuel in the Northern Group).  But if you haven't got the time for that, I would strongly recommend the day trip to Aitutaki.   It includes flights, of course, a tour of the island and a boat trip to some of the motus in the lagoon, complete with on board barbecue.  It's an experience you'll remember for a lifetime.  I promise! 


Mopeds for all ages
MOTORBIKES which are really mostly scooters, can be rented on some of the islands.  Make sure  you've bought your Cook Islands driving license from the police headquarters in Rarotonga (international licenses are not valid).   And CAR RENTAL firms abound on the capital island.  Prices vary a lot so shop around.

Petrol and diesel fuel are quite expensive though, with the outer islands more pricey than Rarotonga. American visitors will be horrified at the cost, but British visitors will find them similar to back home.




It's a bit hit and miss what transport you'll find on the outer islands.  But that's the beauty of them.  The local tourist information offices will help you plan your trip and offer advice on getting round when you arrive.    Mopeds and motorbikes are ubiquitous, but don't expect anything sporty.   And be warned about the Cook Islands "tattoo".  That's the burn mark many tourists take away with them from a bare leg touching the hot exhaust pipe (I'll show you mine if you show me yours!!!)
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TAXIS  If you're looking to get to and from Rarotonga airport or want an alternative to the bus or self-drive, look out for the green taxis run by members of the Cook Islands Taxi Association.   Customers pay NZ$3 a kilometre with a minimum charge of NZ$10 a journey and a maximum of NZ$50 after 16 kilometres.   All Association members conform to a code of conduct.