Cook Islands: As a Whole

99 Coastal Destinations Rated: Top Rated

Score: 75

Residents of this "well-kept secret" of Polynesia continue to embrace many aspects of their traditional culture. As development increases upon Rarotonga, the country's main population center, local officials should keep a wary eye on the water quality of nearby Muri Lagoon.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

“A well-kept secret. Let us keep it that way! Continues to develop, but locals don't seem to change much. The outer islands in the southern group, like Atiu, Mitiaro, Mangaia, Aitutaki, and Palmerston, are picture perfect.”

"There are many issues related to poor environmental practices on the islands, including the lagoon's poor water quality. They may have improved somewhat but are still insufficient. The impact of climate change generally is also an issue. A recent cyclone has damaged the tourism infrastructure. All that aside, the tourism industry is well organized."

“Culturally, a fascinating place but some aspects of the infrastructure need attention.”