Beach lovers are well catered for in the Cook Islands, with many accommodation options on Rarotonga and Aitutaki located directly on the white sands. Choose from luxury hotels, kid-friendly resorts or private beach houses mere steps from a lagoon. No chain resorts, no buildings higher than a coconut tree.
Consistently voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Aitutaki has to be seen to be believed. Easy to reach via a short flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is the ultimate beach lover's destination: stunning white beaches, shady coconut trees and calm turquoise waters so translucent you can see if your toenails need clipping.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki has won an ocean of awards as one of the world's leading boutique resorts. Absolute waterfront on Aitutaki Lagoon, it is a dream location with terrific dining and warm hospitality to match.
Leave the little ones at home - no kidding - and fully enjoy the luxe 5-star adults-only Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa. With the only overwater bungalows in the Cook Islands, and a recent multi-million dollar resort makeover, this is the place to be for chic peace and quiet.
Aitutaki Escape promises to take care of everything and in these harried times, surely that's the greatest luxury of all. Three spacious villas have been designed with couples and small groups in mind, featuring private beachside decks, hot tubs, pools, and super king-sized four-poster beds.
More intimate than a hotel and more luxurious than a homestay, modern self-contained villas are the smart choice for families and groups of friends holidaying together. Many of the best choices are along well-serviced Muri Beach and are within easy reach of bars, restaurants and watersports. There are other gems around Rarotonga, particularly Sea Change Villas and Royal Takitumu Villas in Titikaveka, known for its excellent snorkelling.
Absolute beachfront on the sands of popular Muri Beach, Te Vakaroa Villas feature a clean white design aesthetic that is the perfect foil for the magnificent lagoon views. Modern luxuries include high-end French toiletries, cable TV and fully equipped kitchens.
Fans of Pacific Resorts' legendary service may want to check out Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa, the Cook Islands' newest private villas, managed by the Pacific Resorts team. The 5-star deluxe villas hold a plum position on Muri Lagoon's popular beach, close enough to Muri village to meander to the shops, but far enough away to ensure total privacy.
Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas is another top choice in Muri, with a prime location, dreamy infinity pool and bright contemporary style.
Be close to the shops, bars and restaurants when you stay on the main tourist island of Rarotonga. Luxe resorts offer an indulgent, seamless experience, most with full-service spas, restaurants, bars and prime beachfront locations.
No whim left unsatisfied, no daydream unfulfilled: that's the mission of the hosts at Nautilus Resort. Opened in Rarotonga at the end of 2014, the eco-friendly beachfront resort brings to life the perfect Polynesian getaway. A favourite for destination weddings.
Many departing guests sigh longingly as they wave goodbye to the little slice of paradise that is Little Polynesian Resort. Located in Titikaveka, on one of the best snorkelling beaches to be found in Rarotonga, the resort offers over-beach bungalows as well as garden units furnished with pared-back traditional architecture.
Described as "ridiculously romantic", Crown Beach Resort & Spa is located on the western side of the island and just 10 minutes from the airport. Leading restaurants are a short walk, and the western outlook affords prime sunset vantage from the resort's own well-regarded dining venues.
Turn your back on the lagoon - don't worry, just for a few hundred metres - and arrive at the Ikurangi Eco Retreat, a green vision of luxury safari tent accommodation in the heart of Rarotonga. The dream project of Cook Islander Luana Scowcroft and her English husband Matt, the glamping retreat and cultural statement has been an instant hit, with its yoga hut, eco-sensibilities and abundant mango trees.