Visiting the Cook Islands? You have found my personal notes and travel tips, such as the best time to visit the Cook Islands and miscellaneous facts which I obtain from a variety of sources such as first hand observations, personal conversations, magazines, newspapers, websites, books and so forth.
The Cook Islands are farther east than New Zealand, in the same rough vicinity as the Islands of French Polynesia. They are comprised of 15 inhabited islands.
Best Time to Visit the Cook Islands
Short Answer: Between Mid-May and October.
Longer Answer: The best time to visit the Cook Islands is generally between May and October. From November to sometime in April, rain and humidity is at an increased level making the already heightened temperatures feel that much hotter. Cyclones, although not frequent, can come through generally November through March. The rains decrease through the month of May, bottoming out in the winter months of June through August.
Thus, the longer answer is you generally want to focus on visiting in the May to October timeframe, with the best time being June through September.
If you are interested in whale watching, the best time to visit the Cook Islands would be August and September. Humpbacks generally can make an appearance in the Cook Islands sometime in later July and disappear sometime in October.
Water temperatures around Rarotonga vary from a high of 81F/27C in the January to April timeframe and 76F/24.5C in the July to October timeframe. Bump those temperatures up a little bit for Aitutaki.
Miscellaneous Travel Tips for the Cook Islands
Most people are interested in the southern Cook Islands, namely choosing between Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Aitutaki is the slower, more peaceful, chilling island with great snorkeling/diving. Rarotonga is (relatively) more action/activities.
The Cook Islands are a good place to buy pearls, including black pearls.
No tipping in the Cook Islands.