No skyscrapers. No chain hotels. No McDonalds. Some say the Cook Islands — nearly 2,000 miles northeast of New Zealand — are like Hawaii 70 years ago. Rarotonga, the main island, has one main road that circles the island with zero stoplights across its 20 miles. Life here is exactly what “vacation” is supposed to mean.

Nearby Aitutaki has been voted over and over again as one of the most beautiful islands in the world — you might recognize it from Survivor. A lagoon cruise here and a safari tour on Rarotonga are the best ways to start any expedition on the Cooks, getting you acquainted with the islands’ way of life. Here, you might spot more whales than Americans.