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The sensual Cook Islands lie in the South Pacific between Hawaii and New Zealand. It is a marvelous archipelago made of 15 inhabited islands that are scattered within an area of 2.2 million square kilometers of ocean. Although the Islands are under free association with New Zealand, the archipelago is still a self-governing democracy.

For many travelers, the Cook Islands is one of the best kept secrets of the Pacific. Its remoteness and isolation gives this archipelago an away-from-it-all appeal. If you move away from your usual travel path and visit the Cook Islands, you will be mesmerized by its raw beauty, its simple charm and ideal climate. The people here are known for their warmth and peaceful pace of life

The Cook Islands are divided into two groups, the southern and northern section. There are 9 southern islands, and they are a mixture of volcanic islands and coral atolls. Some of these islands are considered the most beautiful in the entire archipelago. Volcanic peaks usually dominate the skyline of the southern isles. But as you look down, you will also be captivated by their white sandy stretches and calm blue lagoons.

Rarotonga is the main island in the south and is also the transport hub of the whole archipelago. This island is surrounded by a gorgeous blue lagoon. Rarotonga also boasts powdery white sand beaches that are fringed with palm trees. The coral reef near the shore is exceptional for snorkeling enthusiasts. Rarotonga is steeped with tradition and culture. Here, music and arts are integral parts of Island life. Singing in church, string bands, weaving, craft making are seen everywhere, and so is the traditional drum made from hollowed tree trunks – an iconic symbol for Rarotonga.

Aitutaki is another famous southern island, whose popularity stems from mainly its natural beauty. Ever since its discovery in 1789, it has been hailed as the most magnificent of all the islands. Through the 20th century, it has earned the reputation of being a wedding paradise and a honeymoon island. Couples from all over come here to experience the island’s romantic atmosphere and magical scenery. The other southern isles of Cook Islands include Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke, Mangaia, Takutea, Manuae and Palmerston.

The northern group of the Cook Islands consist of six islands. They are considered more remote than their southern counterpart; but they also have their fair share of white sand beaches and marvelous lagoons. Thus, they are the destinations for explorers, adventurers and artists who really want to get away from civilization.

Pukapuka is one of the most unspoiled and untouched islands in the archipelago. The inhabitants here carry out a village life and social norms that are unlike the other islands. The Pukapukan people, devoid of influence from the western world, were able to build an independent system that focused on the welfare of the community as opposed to the individual. They also still implement the conservation practices of their ancestors that safeguard food resources and ensure self-sufficiency. All of this makes Pukapuka a truly fascinating destination to experience and explore.

Suwarrow is the low coral atoll, which is the most southern in the northern group of Cool Islands. It is called the Treasure Island, and is the setting of many romantic tales. The other equally intriguing islands in the northern group are Penrhyn, Rakahanga, Nassau and Manihiki, which is known for its black pearls.

No matter where you go in the Cook Islands you will feel the warm and delight and the sheer joy of being in such a magnificent destination – a true metaphor for heaven on earth – a place where reality and fantasy easily trade place!

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Source by Nagib Georges Araman