Yes, we all know that the Pacific islands are extremely expensive, not talking about cost for getting there. But the Cook Islands are an interesting option for traveling in this region, not only because of their beauty but also for the fact that you can travel on a reasonable budget and still enjoy yourself!
Of course, you can “honeymoon” there, spending up to 800 Euros per night for an over water bungalow, eat in exclusive restaurants, hire a 4-wheel drive or even charter a plane to remote islands. We met people doing this, but we do not think we enjoyed ourselves less.
In 3 weeks, we spent 1.540 Euros per person. That much? Here is how much we spent for what …
Traveling between the islands is in our opinion a MUST but it is expensive: Rarotonga – Aitutaki – Atiu – Rarotonga cost precisely 300 Euros per person.
Accommodation can be kept at a very reasonable level if you are not looking for the ultimate luxury “South Seas feeling”. We could have kept the budget for a double room at about 32 Euros per night. But since we treated ourselves with a bungalow on the beach and swimming pool in Aitutaki (70 Euros per night), we spent 43 Euros per night for accommodation.
Almost in every budget and midrange accommodation, you have kitchen-use, so the budget for eating & drinking can be kept at a very reasonable level, even if you do not want to eat corned beef or canned raviolis. We spent 350 Euros per person on food, even though we cooked very tasty meals.
Last but not least, we rented a scooter on all three islands, with a total cost including gasoline of 90 Euros per person. We also had many activities like one two tank dive in Rarotonga, two Lagoon Cruises in Aitutaki, many tours in Atiu … That cost 210 Euros per person.
Another important aspect to consider is the major difference in prices between the islands: Atiu is by far the cheapest one and Aitutaki by far the most expensive one. So reducing the time in Aitutaki, where there is anyway little to do and spending more time on Atiu might strongly help to cut costs. That is what we should have done!
So yes, the Cook Islands were an expensive destination in our Round The World, but mainly because we treated ourselves with many little luxuries and spent much time on the more expensive Aitutaki, looking for a “South Seas feeling”. Expenditures could have been cut by at least one third if we were on a budget but still enjoying many activities.