Thursday, December 30, 2010

Remembering 2010, dreaming of 2011!

As 2010 comes to a close, I find myself reminiscing about the amazing places I visited this year, and getting excited to see where 2011 takes me! With this year's destinations including Savannah, French Polynesia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, South Africa, and Fiji, 2010 is going to be hard to top - but I look forward to trying!

Everyone keeps asking me where I'm headed next, but I actually have no idea! With a few things up in the air in terms of travel agents conferences and my husband's vacation time, I likely won't know for a little while where my next passport stamp will come from. But as usual, I've got a wish list a mile long! So starting today, I'll be posting a few times a week with my top travel picks for 2011, including dream hotels, excursion ideas, and other destination information! First up...the Cook Islands (after the jump)!

I'd also love to hear where 2010 has taken you, and where you're going (or even just dreaming of) in 2011! 
A toast to all of you! (at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa)

And a bit more champagne on the grounds of Villa Monastero in Varenna (on Lake Como), Italy - because who can stop at just one glass?

2011 Dream trip # 1 - Cook Islands
It's no secret that the South Pacific is my favorite region on Earth, so I don't think anyone would be surprised to find this island group on my list! The Cooks lie just west of French Polynesia, and offer similar scenery to their cousins Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc., with stunning crystal clear lagoons, coral reefs, lush peaks, and white sand beaches. But the Cooks also feature a slightly lower price tag and even less development and tourism! I'd most likely split my trip between the largest islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki, but if given all the time in the world, would also love to visit some of the remote outer islands. Atiu, "the island of birds and legends", particularly fascinates me, with its colorful and mysterious history and caves full of ancient bones!
Photo courtesy of
The only downside to visiting the Cooks is that non-stop flights from the US are very limited, with only 1 outbound and 1 inbound option a week. From Los Angeles, the Sunday flight on Air New Zealand leaves late at night, arriving in Rarotonga early Monday morning. Coming back, the flight leaves Rarotonga late on Saturday evenings, arriving back in Los Angeles on Sunday morning. So only stays of 5 nights or 12 (or 19, etc.) are possible from the US, unless you connect through New Zealand (which would make a fabulous combo trip for those looking for a combination of adventure and relaxation)! But while 5 nights would be a bit short, at least the flight times mean that you end up with about 6 full days in the islands!

The hardest part of a Cooks trip? Deciding where to stay! But I think I've managed to narrow it down to 3 properties on each of the larger islands...
Photo courtesy of
Little Polynesian - what I wouldn't give to be relaxing on one of the crisp and cozy white daybeds on the decks of LP's OverBeach Ares (bungalows) right now...
 Photo courtesy of
Pacific Resort Rarotonga - with an ideal location on Rarotonga's famed Muri beach and lagoon, beautiful accommodations, and excellent service, how can you go wrong?
  Photo courtesy of
Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa - for a splurge, how about Rumours' Ultimate Beachfront Villa? Granted, the movie theater would be untouched during my stay (why go all the way to the South Pacific to watch videos?), but I'd have to be dragged away kicking and screaming from incredible private pool and outdoor space!
 Photo courtesy of
 Photo courtesy of
Etu Moana - this resort's small size, stylish bungalows with outdoor showers, and fantastic reviews put it at the top of my list!
 Photo courtesy of
Pacific Resort Aitutaki -  beautiful accommodations, beach-side food and drink service, and a pool that seems to flow right into the ocean? Yes, please!
Photo courtesy of
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa - while it seems that some renovations/updates may be in order here, the fabulous location, gorgeous grounds, and the Cooks' only (semi)overwater bungalows make this resort a very tempting option!
Photo courtesy of
The Cooks don't offer quite as many opportunities for adventure activities as some of the other South Pacific island groups, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to do but lie on the beach! On Rarotonga, a jeep or scooter rental for at least a day is a must. Guided tours are also available, but I love the freedom of having my own set of wheels! I'd circumnavigate the island, taking in all of the culture and natural beauty it has to offer
Photo courtesy of
On Aitutaki, my top excursion choice would be a One Foot Island day trip. After a cruise around the lagoon with stops for snorkeling, I'd relax on One Foot's stunning white sand beach and eat a picnic lunch washed down with a few cold Matutus (the local beer). And I'd need to make sure to take my passport, so that One Foot's post office - the smallest in the world - could add a fun new stamp to my ever-growing collection!
Photo courtesy of
If only I could teleport myself there right this moment...


Miriam said...

looks really nice! great blog! :)

Caroline said...

Thank you so much, Miriam! Your blog is wonderful as well--what stunning photos!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...