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No. 30 Cook Islands

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Imagine Tahiti 30 years ago, before the big luxury resorts. Subtract the French accent (the Cooks are affiliated with New Zealand). Add in passionate drumming and dancing, and you’ve got an approximation of the appeal of these Polynesian islands (namely Rarotonga and Aitutaki). Oh, and the lagoon that surrounds tiny Aitutaki rivals Bora Bora’s.

Best Beach: At Aitutaki, where a necklace of idyllic motus, including One Foot Island, rings the crystalline lagoon with perfect white-sand beaches.

Where to Stay: Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, on a private island at the edge of the sparkling lagoon and offering the Cooks' only overwater bungalows, decorated in classic thatched Polynesian style.

World's Best Islands 2012

No. 30 Cook Islands

Imagine Tahiti 30 years ago, before the big luxury resorts. Subtract the French accent (the Cooks are affiliated with New Zealand). Add in passionate drumming and dancing, and you’ve got an approximation of the appeal of these Polynesian islands (namely Rarotonga and Aitutaki). Oh, and the lagoon that surrounds tiny Aitutaki rivals Bora Bora’s.

Best Beach: At Aitutaki, where a necklace of idyllic motus, including One Foot Island, rings the crystalline lagoon with perfect white-sand beaches.

Where to Stay: Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, on a private island at the edge of the sparkling lagoon and offering the Cooks' only overwater bungalows, decorated in classic thatched Polynesian style.

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World's Best Islands 2012

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