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Cook Islands Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT -10.

Electricity

Electrical current is 240 volts, 50Hz. The three-pin flat blade plug with two slanted pins are used.

Language

Cook Island Maori is widely spoken by locals, but English is in common use.

Travel Health

There is little risk of disease on the Cook Islands, but visitors should take precautions against insect bites and sunburn. Outbreaks of dengue fever can occur so a good arsenal of mosquito repellent and protective clothing is advised.

Although no vaccinations are required, one or two may be recommended by a doctor as a precaution: vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended while a typhoid vaccination may also be required.

Locals consider the tap water safe, but boiled or bottled water is advised for visitors, particularly in rural areas. A range of medical and dental services are available on Rarotonga, including a hospital and various pharmacies, but medical facilities in the Cook Islands in general are limited and comprehensive travel insurance is advised to include air evacuation for emergencies.

If travellers require medication during their stay in the Cook Islands, it is best to take it with them. Travellers should make sure they have the necessary documents from their doctor to get the medication through customs.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected and is contrary to Cook Islands custom.

Safety Information

Visits to the Cook Islands are usually trouble free. There is relatively little crime, but it is always advisable to protect valuables.

Local Customs

Cook Islanders are known to be hospitable, generous and somewhat reserved, and will greet travellers who depart or return from voyages by placing a garland of flowers around their necks. Locals are also very religious and frown upon inappropriate dress. Beachwear should not be worn in town, and topless sunbathing is not acceptable behaviour.

Business

The main business centre is Avarua on Rarotonga Island. The business environment in the Cook Islands is fairly casual and relaxed. However, punctuality is important and dress should be modest, particularly for women. Meetings will be conducted in English when foreigners are present, although islanders may speak to one another in Maori to clarify their understanding during proceedings. It is not meant as an offence. Meetings usually begin and end with a prayer. Business hours are generally 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Communications

The country code for the Cook Islands is +682. Resorts that offer free WiFi are located throughout the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki; visitors can purchase local SIM cards for unlocked phones.

Duty Free

Travellers over 18 years to the Cook Islands may import 2 litres of alcoholic beverage or 4.5 litres of beer, and 200 cigarettes or 20 cigars or 250g of tobacco. No firearms, cartridges or cartridge cases, gunpowder, bullets, and other forms of ammunition are allowed without prior permission from the Minister of Police.

Become our Cook Islands Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Cook Islands travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Cook Islands or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.