Cook Islands
Created by: Teenah Numanga

Cook Islands​

Your Dream Vacation is Here

Introduction Location: Cook Islands

The capital island of the Cook Islands is 32 km long Raratonga island of a volcanic origin. The official language of Raratonga is English and the official language of the Cook Islands is Maori. The welcoming greeting is Kia Orana which simply means Hello. There is a population of 14,000 people in Rarotonga based on statistics from 2006.


The first settlers in Rarotonga were Polynesian people who arrived around 800 AD from the island of Tupua’I, now known as Tahiti or French Polynesia. These settlers traveled by ‘Vakas’ (giant double-hulled canoes) across the Pacific in search of new land. After these Polynesian people settled, the Europeans officially discovered Rarotonga in 1813. The first landing, however, was by the Cumberland crew in 1814, only a year later. The first missionary who arrived at Rarotonga was John Williams from the London Missionary society together with the Tahitian Convert, Papehia. They arrived first to Aitutaki. Later, they were teaching people about Christianity. Some interesting historical facts might fascinate every tourist such as ancient art in the museums. There are four main museums on Rarotonga, guarding sacred artifacts of our ancestors. Some of the most treasured items had been kept in families who gave these precious pieces of art to these museums to be preserved.


The weather in Rarotonga is very unpredictable. It is mostly tropical and the seasons do not differ much. There are two seasons, the wet season, usually between November and May, and the dry season, between June and October. Winter lasts between June and August, and summer is between November and January. Keep in mind that it gets very hot and humid during the wet seasons, with heavy rains in the late afternoon. This is the typical weather for the wet season. Although the weather is very tropical, there are Cyclone Seasons (Hurricanes or Typhoons) between November and April. The last cyclone which affected the Cook Islands was Cyclone Pat in 2010, unfortunately passing directly over the Island of Aitutaki, a sister island of Rarotonga. Raratonga has not been directly struck by any cyclones in recent years but when there are Cyclones circling near islands like Fiji or Tahiti, we are able to feel the force of the strong wind and raging sea.


Tourism is a growing industry in the Cook Islands. The majority of tourists arrive from Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Europe. The most often purpose of visit to Cook Island is leisure. Most tourists decide to stay in Rarotonga for a maximum of seven nights. Rarotonga is an incredible place to travel to because of its beautiful beaches to be explored. There is also a very unique culture and history to learn about on the one Island Night at ‘Te Vara Nui’ – one of the best cultural nights on the Island. The ancient stories are told by dancing performers dance. The tourism industry in the Cook Islands are mainly based in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, the two main islands, mostly because the other islands, especially the Northern Group is difficult to travel to. Most tourists travel only to Rarotonga. Aitutaki is also a very interesting place to travel to. There, tourists can discover the true taste of life and almost untouched nature. Most of the waters in the Vass lagoon is under protection to save the precious water creatures. The currency on the Cook Island is New Zealand Dollar. It is advisable to take some cash money with you because many places do not take Credit Cards on the Island, especially if you want to buy from our Local Market.


There are several means of transportation on Rarotonga – rental cars and motorbikes, taxis, buses, and boats. There are no Uber or Ola, and hitchhiking is not very popular. However, many nice local people would not mind you sitting on the back of their truck to reach your destination.


Air travel is a major part of our tourism industry, mainly for bringing people from far countries and also for taking people across to the sister islands. There is only one airport on the island, Rarotonga International Airport, where both International and Domestic flights arrive and depart from. The Airport is located in the village of Nikao, just outside the Township area. It takes only 15 minutes to get to the airport from anywhere on the island. There are only four International Airlines that fly to and from the country – Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Air Tahiti. These airlines fly only to Rarotonga and not to the outer islands. There is only one Domestic Airline, Air Rarotonga, that flies to almost all the sister islands.


In Rarotonga, there is one main port – the Avatiu Harbour Port located in the main town center of Avarua. The port is very small, and only smaller ships can dock. Cruise ships that visit the island have smaller boats that come off the ship to transfer people to the land. There are only two main shipping companies within the Cook Islands – Mataora Shipping and Taio Shipping. People usually use shipping to transport their large items to one of the sister islands rather than by plane because it is much cheaper. People do not usually use boats or ships to travel to the other islands in the Cook Islands. There are only a few cruise ships that pass by, and they only stop when the weather is clear due to the danger of transferring people to the land.


Ground transportation on the Cook Islands is limited to rental cars and scooters, buses, taxis or rental bicycles. There are rental companies such as Polynesian Car & Bike Hire, Island Cars & Bike Hire, Rarotonga Rentals and Raro Cars, which also offer airport pick up and drop off. Buses are probably the cheapest option of transportation. Two public buses go without a specified itinerary.

Getting Around Cook Islands​:

The most popular form of transportation among tourists is renting cars and scooters. It is more exciting to explore the island on your own. The island is so small that it is almost impossible to get lost, but if the tourists get lost, it is advisable to follow the road opposite of the mountains. Prices for rental vehicles are usually $30 – $60 per day, with a bond before renting. Some tourists prefer to cycle around the island instead of driving to appreciate the beauty of the island. There are two major bicycle hire companies – Ride Rarotonga and Storytellers. Prices for renting a bike is $50 per day hire. Locals often use motorbikes to get around because it is easier unless it rains of course. Taxi companies such as Dorothy’s Taxi services, AJ Taxis and Miria Taxi services, are local companies that charge from $15 – $20 per person, per ride. There are also two major shuttle/transfer companies – Raro Tours and Cook Island Tours.

Hotel / Accommodations

Rarotonga is a small island, therefore it is limited to only a small number of accommodation options offered. The most popular accommodation option is resorts, then hotels, as well as some cheaper accommodation such as motel. Rarotonga is frequently suggested for couples traveling on vacation, or perhaps a honeymoon because of the privacy and intimate atmosphere which resorts offer to their guests. The resort in Aitutaki is for the guests who are over 18 years old because they want to maintain a peaceful environment for the guests. Hotels are generally known for all types of guests, families can bring their children along. There are many activities and a Kids Club, where parents can enjoy their time relaxing while kids enjoy fun activities.


Name Category Cost Amenities Audience Stars
Pacific Resort Rarotonga
$267 NZD Standard Studie
Restaurant onsite, Free Snorkeling, Kayaks and Paddles Board Equipment
Honeymooner Couples, Small Family guests
4 – Star Resort
Muri Beach Club Hotel
$331 NZD Deluxe B/F Room
Daily Housekeeping, Air conditioning, Pool and Restaurant Onsite
Families, Couples etc
4.5 Star Hotel
Edgewater Resort & Spa
Resort & Hotel
$123 NZD Superior Garden Room
Tennis Court onsite, Kids Club, Restaurant, Air Conditioning, Laundry, Pool
Large Families with Kids, People traveling on budget
3.5 Star
Moana Sands Lagoon Resort
$327 NZD Lagoon Suite
Pool & Resturant onsite, Room Service available, Wifi Available
Honeymooner Couples, friends traveling together
3.5 Star
Little Polynesian Resort
Inn, Motel
$81 NZD Family Suite, Poolside
Pool Onsite, Near town area, cheap accommodation
Backpacker travelers, Volunteer travelers, young friends traveling
2.5 Star
Liku’alofa Beach Resort
$392 NZD Garden Studio
Guest Pool, In Room massage, Room service , Wifi
Honeymooners, Couples
4.5 Star

Food & Beverage / Restaurants

On the Cook Islands, food is a major part of the culture. There are many local delicacies which are often highlighted at the restaurants with Island Buffets. The Island Night is very popular among tourists, not only because of the delicious Island Cuisine but also because Island Nights usually come with a cultural performance. In Rarotonga, there are also some foreign cuisine restaurants such as Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Contemporary, and also Indian. Most of these foreign cuisines are served in quick-service restaurants or buffets at hotel restaurants. We have many choices available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if tourists decide they would like to leave the hotel for their meal. Rarotonga is most known for its Underground Oven Meals, otherwise known as the Umu – the food is cooked in an underground stove overnight. Beverages range from Coffee and Tea, Soft Drinks, Water and Alcohol Beverages. They are served at High-End Restaurants. Quick service restaurants usually offer soft drinks and water. There are few bars open during the day, they are usually opened at night only. The best food can be found at the Punanga Nui Market on Saturday mornings. This is where local people bring all their fresh produce, Island Crafts, and also their fresh local food to sell. They have a market day every other Saturday with a live band show. This is a great way to spend your Saturday morning in Rarotonga. There are not fast foods such as Mac Donalds’ or KFC.

Quick Service Restaurants:

Name Cuisine Meals Features Price
Charlie’s Cafe
Fast Food, Grill, Contemporary
Lunch, Dinner
Live Band, Great Location (on the beach)
Vili’s Burger Joint
Fast Food
Lunch, Dinner
Great Service (staff)
Fast Food, Grill
Lunch, Dinner
Best Burgers, Cheap

Casual Restaurants:

Name Cuisine Meals Features Price
Trader Jacks
Fast Food, Contemporary
Lunch, Dinner
Serves Alcohol, Wheelchair Accessible
Bamboo Jacks Restaurant
Indonesian Cuisine
Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free meals available
The Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar
Contemporary, Polynesian
Lunch, Dinner

Fine Dining Restaurants:

Name Cuisine Meals Features Price
Antipodes Restaurant
International, Contemporary, Healthy
Lunch, Dinner
Romantic Atmosphere, Great Sunset
Flambe Restaurant
International, European
Lunch, Dinner
Serves Alcohol, Accepts Visa, Credit Card
Tamarind House Restaurant
Seafood, European, New Zealand
Lunch, Dinner
Outdoor Seating, Private Dining

Recreation / Entertainment

In Rarotonga, there is a lot of land and water-based recreational activities available because of the natural beauty of the environment in this area. Travelers are often very interested in exploring the clear lagoons and sea life on the Cook Islands. Most beaches are under protection, which also attracts many tourists- Many travelers are also fascinated by the forests on the island, with the vast number of rare plants found in the mountains. Tourists often take tours which allow them to explore the untouched terrestrial land. Tourists are also immensely interested in historical sights such as ‘Marae’s’, ancient ruins, churches, and Palaces. There are also many major cultural events that attract tourists from all over the world to explore the Cook Islands culture through dancing and singing.

Water Activities:

Natural Wonders:

Sports & Recreation Spas:

Arts, Culture, Entertainment:


A Family Itinerary

Day 1 :

Raro Quad Tours – 8.30 AM – 12.30 PM

 Start your day, right way! Have an exciting start of your day with the Raro Quad tours. Go on the main roads and into the wilderness on YOUR QUAD BIKE! Couples can each have their bike or they can ride on one quad bike. There is also a guide who leads the way. This is the most amazing way to experience the beauty of Rarotonga, by going to the bushes, exploring hidden waterfalls and ancient historical sights created by the ancestors of the land. After heavy rainfall, most tours result in muddy clothes, so please don’t wear your best outfit. After your day of exploration, you will then be served with an awesome BBQ lunch and fresh Chilled Coconut Water – Nu, straight from the Coconut tree. After your day out, you will be transported back to your hotel by 1 pm, where you will take the afternoon to relax in the pool or take a romantic walk before you’ll be picked up again for the treat of the evening.

Progressive Dinner – 5.30 PM – 9 PM

 Now for the treat, you will have an experience of progressive dinner. You will be picked up from your accommodation at about 5.30 PM and transported to a series of three different households, where locals will host you with three-course meals – entrees, the main course, and a dessert. While traveling to these separate locations, your guides will give you an important insight about the island, the locals and the way of living and also you have a chance to enjoy the live band during your meal. At each household, you will receive a large variety of local delicacies, each location with a different assortment because of the course of the meal. After the evening has come to an end, you’ll be returned to your accommodation by 9 PM.

Day 2 :

Aitutaki Day Tour – 7.30 AM – 5.30 PM
Enjoy an all-inclusive day tour to one of the most beautiful outer islands in the Cook Islands. The Aitutaki day tour includes return flights, return transfers, Te Vaka Cruise, Lunch Buffet on board, the snorkeling Gear, and an awesome experience with live string band entertainment. After the day is over you’ll board your flight back to Rarotonga and be transferred to your hotel from the airport at about 5.30 PM.

Te Vara Nui Village – 6.30 PM – 10.00 PM
After a day spent on Aitutaki, you will be taken to  Award Winning Te Vara Nui Village cultural performance and Island night Buffet. Here you will spend about 4 hours enjoying the ancient story of Tongaiti through the dancers’ unique performances, while tasting the delicious fresh local cuisine. After the night is over you will be returned to your hotel for the next day of your exciting getaway to the Cook Islands.

Day 3 :

Pa’s Mountain Walk – 9.30 AM – 1.00 PM
Enjoying your holiday so far? That was just the beginning, on the third day, guests will enjoy a Nature Walk with one of our best Cultural leaders, Pa. You will be picked up from your accommodation at about 9.30 am so you have plenty time to enjoy your breakfast before your exciting start of the day! On this tour you will learn about interesting history of the Cook Islands, the culture from the  awesome guide. Take a walk through the wilderness and learn about the various values of each plant and how they can become remedies for certain illnesses. Pa has taken 5000 tours in his lifetime, so be ensured that you will be safe and pleased at tour for the day. After the tour, you will have the opportunity to relish in the delicious homemade lunch prepared by Pa and his wife. You will be returned to your hotel to rest for the evening.

Going Troppo Night Life Tour – 7.00 PM – 12.00 AM
Every couple who come to Rarotonga has to experience the thrilling nightlife Rarotonga has to offer. The Troppo Night Life Tour is the safest and coolest way to explore the groovy nightlife atmosphere that Rarotonga has to offer. The tour includes a bright artificial flower garland to lead you to the groovy mood, and also a plastic wine glass with a bright light at the bottom. On this tour you will  be picked up from your hotel at precisely 7.30 PM. Do not worry about dinner, this tour includes refreshments at Vaiana’s Bistro & Bar. The Troppo Bus will transport you to the popular Bar & Dance Club on the island.  Your group will stay at each bar for about 15 minutes, until you reach the main town center where you’ll stay the rest of the night. This tour will last until about midnight when you will be safely transported back to your accommodation.