The Cook Islands has a rich and interesting history. Comprised of 15 small islands dotted among 1,800,000 square km in the South Pacific, the Cooks are an ideal location for those looking for an unspoiled tropical paradise. The beautiful islands, friendly locals, and clear waters make it popular for all kinds of water and land activities, and Manea Beach Villas is a fantastic holiday destination. 

Cook Islands History

In the 6th century, Polynesians from nearby Tahiti first settled the Cook Islands. In the late 1700s, Captain James Cook arrived and named them the Hervey Islands, and in the 1820s the name Cook Islands became popular to honour the great British explorer.

English missionaries began to arrive in the 1800s, establishing many rules and regulations. Their Christian teachings are still followed today throughout the islands, impacting society in a huge way.

In the late 1800s, the Cook Islands were a British Protectorate, then in 1901 became part of New Zealand. The Cooks became a self-governing state in the 1960s, but remain under New Zealand regarding foreign policy and defence.

Cook Islands Culture

Music and dance are one of the most important parts of island life. Stories are told through dance, and competitions occur throughout the year. Resorts near Manea Beach Villas offer Island Nights that display cultural music and dance like the fierce and sensual Cook Island hura; please contact us to learn more.

Tivaevae is a well-known craftwork in the Cook Islands - handmade bedspreads with brightly coloured flower patterns. At our local markets, also find beautiful baskets, artwork, clothing, and other native handicrafts.

As religion is a very important aspect of the lives of Cook Islanders, many shops and businesses are closed on Sundays. Church attendance is encouraged for local people, and Sundays are recognised as a day of rest.

Food & Cuisine

Our villas provide fully-equipped kitchens, but you will also find plenty of local restaurants and cuisine to sample.

The Cooks have the best seafood in the Pacific - be sure to try the wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and broadbill cooked in traditional island methods. The modern and comtemporary eateries also offer lots of tropical fruit and local dishes for you to experience during your holiday.

For more information on places to eat in Rarotonga, please feel free to contact Manea Beach Villas for some recommendations.

Other Important Information


Rarotonga is very easy to get around by rental car, scooter, or bicycle, and a Cook Islands driving licence can be purchased for $20. The speed limit is 40 km/h, and it is required to drive on the left lane of the road. If you prefer public transportation, the bus system here is very good. The "Island Bus" runs both clockwise and anti-clockwise, and is convenient and low-cost.


The currency used in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). There are unique Cook Island coins and notes that are non-negotiable outside of the Cooks.

Dress Code

The Cook Islands typically follows an informal dress code, although nude or topless sunbathing is not acceptable. Many local people wear a pareau during the day, a wrap-around brightly coloured material. Dining out at night typically requires smart casual clothing, otherwise beach attire and relaxed clothing is the norm.