World's Sexiest Affordable Destinations
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Cook Islands, South Pacific
Why Go Now: With a handful of low-key resorts, this island group is an affordable alternative to its affluent neighbors Tahiti and Bora-Bora.
The Details: In the capital, Rarotonga, stay at Little Polynesian (doubles from $370), where handwoven cream-on-white bedspreads brighten the 10 bungalows. Restaurants on the island range from Vaima (dinner for two $56), a fish spot with tables set on a dock, to Windjammer (dinner for two $87), which serves innovative dishes such as slow-cooked local octopus in a curry sauce. For the best beaches, catch an Air Rarotonga flight (four each day) from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. Check in to the Tamanu Beach Resort (doubles from $245). As Mike Henry, the Tamanu’s owner, says, “The Cook Islands are like Hawaii fifty years ago.”
T+L Tip: Explore Aitutaki’s lagoon with Wet & Wild Adventure Tours (tours $50). Daylong cruises include stops at an island bird sanctuary.