If you have a hankering for an unspoiled tropical paradise where the diving is great, the pace is slow, the people are nice and where most everything works, the Cook Islands should be on your list. The international gateway to the 15-island archipelago is Rarotonga, which features a small capital city with a superb Saturday market and a terrific bus service. There are no fast food joints or aggressive pedlars.
There are many self-catering operations on the island but the Lagoon Breeze Villas is exceptionally good. The property features two-story, two bedroom (one up-one down) villas, two bedroom bungalows, and studio semi-detached bungalows. A well-equipped kitchen is part of the package. The decor is simple and attractive and a good tropical breakfast is included.
The staff are exceptionally capable and helpful and the gorgeous garden compares well to the island's botanical garden. The best snorkelling on the island is just across the road and a mini-golf operation is nearby. It's easy to pick up groceries at supermarkets in Avurua, but Wigmore's store has a good supply of local produce. Good restaurants nearby include Vaima and Yellow Hibiscous. There are many evening cultural shows with dinner on the island. One of the best, Highland Paradise, is nearby.
The Lagoon Breeze Villas would be a good selection for divers, couples, or people with pre-teen children.