From the see-through waters of Aitutaki Lagoon to the enthralling Polynesian villages of Atiu, the Cook Islands are ready to fill your vacation with wonder. At nearly 2,000 miles away from North Island, they are certainly off the beaten path. However, you can do the trip to the capital of Rarotonga in as little as four hours. What's more, budget carriers like Jetstar combine with premium offerings from Virgin Australia to offer all sorts of tickets, so you should never be short or potential bargains on cheap flights to Cook Islands from New Zealand. Then, it's just a case of cracking out the sunscreen, swinging in a hammock, snorkelling amid coral gardens – you get the idea!
Spilling into the reefs and turquoise seas from the side of Rarotonga, Muri Beach is all stooping coconut trees and powdery sands.
You can snorkel with multi-colored coral blooms, laze on overwater bungalows, and find white-sand beaches in the stunning Aitutaki Lagoon.
You can tour a traditional Cook Island town, get stuck into native handicrafts, and even shop for those all-important souvenirs at the Te Vara Nui Village.