Paradise found: Aitutaki Cook Islands

It was anything but another day in the office when The Weekly’s style director Mattie Cronan began work on our summer fashion pages.

The Cook Islands are a magical place: they are an untouched paradise and so idyllic. Everywhere you look could come straight from a postcard: sprawling mountains, luscious tropical palms and the most insanely turquoise water I have ever seen. It really is paradise.
So when The Cook Islands were presented to me as an option while I was researching potential locations for my summer photo shoots, the decision was a no brainer. Furthermore, with Air New Zealand flying a direct service to Raratonga weekly, a short six-hour flight sounded like a great plan.
Soon The Weekly’s team, along with gorgeous models Laura Wells and Samantha Harris, was all set for our summer fashion shoot adventure.
Laura Wells in November issue of AWW.
After arriving in Rarotonga, we spent the day researching locations for our upcoming stories, while getting in a spot of sightseeing on the side. We arrived on a Sunday so we set out to find a local church, as I had heard this was a must visit in the Cooks. The parishioners’ voices were angelic and the women, men and children dressed in their finest outfits. It was as much a visual treat as it was a delight to the ears.
The following day we set off to Aitutaki on a quick 40 minute flight on Air Rarotonga. We set up base camp at Tamanu Beach Resort, a gorgeous resort in the heart of the island. The thatched roof bungalows set back from the water also became a backdrop for one of our shoots (keep an eye out for our January issue).
For our shoot in the November issue we chose the stunning Honeymoon Island. Our lovely host was Captain Fantastic from Kia Orana Cruises. He was an awesome character - and has what must surely be one of the best jobs in the world, ferrying people back and forth to the perfect islands surrounding Aitutaki. We ended up on Honeymoon Island, named after a Canadian couple who got married there. The sand is pure white and the water is perfectly blue and crystal clear.
On set: Honeymoon Island has hosted some of the world’s most famous magazines including Sports Illustrated.
The Cook Islands is a holiday destination that should be on everyone's bucket list. The serenity, beauty and limited phone service should be enough to draw anyone in. It’s certainly a work trip that I will never forget.
What to do
Visit one of the islands on the Lagoon Kia Orana cruises.
Where to eat
Tupuna's is an institution in Aitutaki with famed local chef Tupuna running the show; the menu is full of fresh local produce. The coconut crab is a must!
The dancers from Te Vara Nui R and (right) the AWW crew at dinner with Chef Tupuna.
What to see
Any of the local dancers and fire shows, there are shows most weeknights at your resort, a must in Rarotonga is Te Vara Nui, enjoy dinner and a show.
Where to stay
Tamanu Beach Resort has relaxed but luxurious accommodation. The stunning beachfront resort features 22 bungalows, conference facilities, two swimming pools and a beachfront bar and restaurant.
The team at Tamanu have an exclusive offer for any readers of The Australian Women's Weekly via Cook Islands Tourism.
The gorgeous view from the rooms at Tamanu Beach Resort. See more from our November issue and behind-the-scenes videos and galleries.
The gorgeous view from the rooms at Tamanu Beach Resort.
See more from our November issue and behind-the-scenes videos and galleries.

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