The barely-inhabited Cook Islands beckon to those searching for a private and luxurious escape. Dotted across the Pacific Ocean, the islands have been inhabited since 500AD, with small and close-knit communities and a diverse culture. The location of some of our favourite boutique hotels, Aitutaki is ringed with a peaceful lagoon, teeming with tropical fish – the snorkelling can quickly become addictive. Lapping at the shore of Ara Tapu, the Muri lagoon is famous: take a swim in the still, translucent waters to find out why. If you prefer to stay dry, take a trip in a glass-bottomed boat to view the underwater marvels. The Cook Islands brings people back.