Visitors Guide D


You’ll find disco and live music to dance to at many of the nightspots (Trader Jack’s, Staircase, Banana Court on Rarotonga). An ‘Island Night’ should be on all visitors’ list of things to do – vibrant, colourful, sensual – it’s hard to believe these dancers attend church on Sundays. The Staircase Restaurant in Avarua has Island Night on Thursdays and a number of resorts offer them throughout the week. The Samade Bar on Aitutaki has Island Night on Tuesdays, Crushers on Thursdays and the Pacific Resort on Friday nights.

Dengue Fever

There have been outbreaks of dengue in The Cook Islands (about every five years) and the best prevention is insect repellent. The symptoms of “breakbone fever” are nausea, headaches, sore throat, pain in the joints, chills, and a rash. There’s no vaccine and all you can do is try to avoid being bitten (the dengue fever mosquito bites only during the day). If you’re unfortunate enough to be stricken, all you can do is rest in bed and wait for the fever to subside after five to 15 days. Drink lots of water but don’t take aspirin (which can cause complications). Dengue fever outbreaks are infrequent, but ask your travel agent to check if you’re concerned.


If you require an emergency dentist, Dental Services is in the Tupapa Community Clinic, 1km east of town – phone 29 312 – or there are private practitioners – Dr Kaa Henry (opposite Avatiu Harbour) – phone 29 605; Philip Nicholas – phone 20 169.

Departure Tax

There is no departure tax payable at the airport as it is included in all international tickets.


See Eating Out.

Disabled Facilities

The Cook Islands is still a bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to facilities for the severely disabled. The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa has rooms for travellers in wheelchairs – ask your travel agent to check with other resorts for you.


See Scuba.


The Tupapa Community Clinic (phone 20 066) is open week days from 8:00am to 6:00pm and 8:00am to 11:00am on Saturdays. Private practitioners include Dr Tereapii Uka (phone 23 680) and Dr Wolfgang Losacker (phone 23 306). He’s a specialist in tropical medicine who also sells his own photo books and postcards on the Cook Islands and is the Honorary Consul for Germany. For after hours emergencies, it’s probably best to head to the hospital. (See also Medical Services)


There are no dogs at all on Aitutaki but there’s an abundance of canines on Rarotonga. You’ll come across loping dogs of indeterminate breeding and inbreeding almost everywhere. You’ll probably see some that look like a German Shepherd-Corgi cross – could this be because someone once had guard dogs and, to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1974, someone threw a corgi into the mix?


Think cotton, think casual (shorts, short-sleeved shirts). Dress should be light and casual, but not too brief in public places. Sunbaking around the resort pool or on a beach is fine, but bathers shouldn’t be worn outside the resort. A sarong/sulu/paraeu is a useful accessory for covering up over a swimming costume as well as wrapping wet things in or using to lie on. Again, tropical clothes are fine for evening wear – ties are rare, even for people going to court or funerals. In the cooler months a long-sleeved shirt or jacket may come in handy. Ladies – roadside walks are unkind to heels – better to wear a comfortable pair of flat-soled shoes than make a fashion statement. A pair of reef shoes will come in handy, as will your own mask and snorkel. If you are planning on a Sunday church outing, men should wear long sleeves and long trousers (and shoes!) and ladies should wear a dress (the locals also wear dress hats). For local lightweight tropical clothing head to Tav’s Clothing factory on Vakatini Road or Joyce Peyroux Garments in Arorangi.


The legal age for drinking in the Cook Islands is 18, but somehow you get the feeling that this may not be heavily policed. Supermarkets sell alcohol, but not on Sundays. For a Sunday tipple head to Trader Jack’s, a restaurant or resort. Drink driving is also illegal but it is also rarely policed. Visitors should never drink and drive, especially on Friday nights when the road is sure to be occupied by locals who won’t be under the limit. Water (bottled) is one drink all visitors should embrace because of the humidity.

Duty Free

The inbound duty is two litres of spirits or two litres of wine (or a combination making up two litres) or four half-litres of beer and 200 cigarettes (or equivalent). Personal items (including sporting equipment) are not dutiable. I’m told that outbound duty free cigarettes are the cheapest in the world. Smokers should seize that opportunity with a promise that it will be the last carton – why would governments ever ban such a nasty little product when they are extracting that much duty into the coffers!

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