We are so lucky here in Australia where Holidays for Couples is based to have so many amazing destinations so close to home! Tropical island holidays abound, and some of the most stunning places - and relatively undiscovered by all but the most savvy travelers - are said to be found in the Cook Islands.
You'll find this modern Polynesian nation of 15 islands scattered across a vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean in the centre of the Polynesian triangle, flanked by Tonga to the west, Tahiti to the east, and Hawaii to the north. The flight from Sydney takes six hours to the main island of Rarotonga, and when you get there, prepare to be greeted by some truly breathtaking scenery!
With a rare beauty, a tropical climate, warm welcoming people and a pace of life that is slowed way, way down to total 'chill out', the Cook Islands boast all the ingredients for romance and relaxation.
Rarotonga is the most populated island and the capital of the Cook Islands - it's also where the international airport is and the main town of Avarua, and it is dominated by a once mighty volcanic pyramid. Here the skyline is punctuated by sawtooth peaks and razorback ridges carpeted in lush green vegetation that fall into a reef-encircled turquoise lagoon, making for easy access to a kaleidoscope of land and lagoon based tours and activities.
The coral atoll of Aitutaki, a 45 minute flight north, is a also must-see for visitors to the islands, as it boasts arguably the most beautiful lagoon in the world! Aitutaki simply exudes romance and is a magnet for wedding parties, honeymooners and those renewing their love. Snorkel, dive, kayak or swim in the exquisitely coloured lagoon and its many dazzling white sand motus (islets). Other popular diversions are kite surfing, bonefishing or lagoon cruises - get your passport stamped at One Foot Island - or delving into Aitutaki's interesting history on a cultural or 4WD tour.
Accommodation on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki ranges from the ultimate in five star indulgence to home stay, with a multiplicity of mid range and budget places in between.
And the local cuisine is considered some of the best of the Pacific Islands, with abundant seafood and locally grown fruit and vegetables featuring on the menus of terrific, inexpensive restaurants and beachside bars.
With new direct flights from Sydney and the allure of a true south sea holiday, as well as the strength of the Australian dollar against the Cook Islands' NZ dollar currency, they won't stay undiscovered for long!
Air New Zealand flies direct from Sydney to Rarotonga every Saturday and has a special on sale until 30 September 2011 from $380 one way, for travel 18 October to 16 December 2011. What a bargain!
Which leaves me asking the question ... why on earth have I not been to the Cook Islands yet? It's definitely time to do something about that!