The 10 Best Things to Do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

April 4, 2018 Leonarda Pillsbury

Sipping coconut milk while bargaining for handmade jewelry and swaying your hips to live music—just another Saturday morning in Rarotonga. After a few hours of checking out the wharf-side Punanga Nui Market, hit the beaches of this reef-protected volcanic island. There are plenty of picturesque lagoons that allow peaceful swimming or snorkeling, and moonlit strolls along the East Side sands are pure magic. Raro Safari Tours are a popular way to explore the island’s vivid rainforest.
Restaurants in Rarotonga

1. Matutu Brewery

Tikioki, Cook Islands +682 26 288
Excellent
85%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 174 reviews

Matutu Brewery

Reviewed By Stephen S - Penang Island, Malaysia

Very informative talk, learnt a lot about beer and all for only $10 which included 3 glasses of different craft beers.
Beers were all good quality - no preservatives and to me tasted very good.
Well worth doing, my wife and I were really glad we did it.

2. Titikaveka Beach

Titikaveka, Cook Islands
Excellent
80%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 404 reviews

Titikaveka Beach

Reviewed By Coylum - Vancouver

We spent an afternoon snorkeling and found the shade under the trees just great. Good sandy beach with sandy gaps between most rocks. Reasonably depth particularly when the tide is in. We took a Koko glass bottom cruise which ended up anchoring for snorkeling right there, but close to reef. That close at almost high tide meant a lot of sand in the water, so we saw lots of fish being fed under the boat through the glass, but not a lot when snorkeling.
The halfway point to the reef is a good spot.

3. Cook Island Christian Church (CICC)

Avarua, Cook Islands +682 26 070
Excellent
75%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 275 reviews

Cook Island Christian Church (CICC)

Sunday services are filled with hymns sung in the Maori language at this island church which dates back to 1853. The local graveyard is noted for some famous inhabitants including American author Robert Dean Frisbie.

Reviewed By cookieabroad - Brisbane Australia

Participating in a church service can be a highlight particularly enjoying the unique hymn singing from the congregation. Join the local Reverend for morning tea after the service and mix and mingle with the locals.

4. Aroa Marine Reserve

Aroa Beach, Cook Islands
Excellent
76%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 142 reviews

Aroa Marine Reserve

Reviewed By Horoeka - New Zealand

A lovely safe spot to snorkel with a dive shop across the road for anything you might need. You need to get out towards the reef to really get the best from this reserve but it's worth it. Tried lots of other spots around the island but this really was the best.

5. Te Vara Nui Village

Rarotonga, Muri, Cook Islands +682 24 006
Excellent
73%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Te Vara Nui Village

Te Vara Nui Village is the Cultural Centre of the Cook Islands offering 3 amazing products: a 2.5 hour VILLAGE TOUR offering a full authentic journey into our past, a Stunning Over-Water Night Show and first class Island/Western fusion buffet dinning experience on floating and fixed stages set in botanical Gardens surrounded by rock Gardens and Waterfalls, and our COMBO PACKAGE offering both Village Tour and Over-Water Night Show and Buffet dinner in one night. Your ultimate cultural experience not to be missed!!!!

Reviewed By Nicki B - Masterton

This place was amazing, the evening started out with a quick talk about how the place came about, all staff were friendly, and amazing cocktails. We were seated at a large table with other visitors, but this was nice meeting other people. Dinner was a buffet meal with traditional island meals as well as plain food if you weren't to keen to try.
Then the entertainment started. The show and costumes and music was amazing. That music is so moving.
Ended with pudding and photos with the dancers.
This is a must for all ages.

6. Te Rua Manga (The Needle)

Cook Islands
Excellent
64%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 224 reviews

Te Rua Manga (The Needle)

This tall, rocky pinnacle can be spotted from several locations on the island and is a favorite challenge for those who enjoy a good climb.

Reviewed By DavidG3900 - Arlington, Texas

Kia Orana! Just did this hike last week, not for the weak and timid. Avoided going up the waterfall side, since some light rain day before.
Came up from town, past the power plant. Flat grassy incline lulls you into your Happy Place until you enter the dark jungle.
Be prepared, hydrated, and use safe hiking shoes. I'm 66, moderate good shape, took us 3 hours round trip to the needle, but multiple rest stops near top.
If you hike regularly, you really don't need a guide, as trail well marked. When you get to the needle, don't chicken out, use the chain and rope tethers to go up the look out, it's why you went.
Try to pick a partly cloudy, but NOT rainy day, as going back down can be slippery and dangerous.
If you're not doing the cross island trek, and return to you car like us, still take the loop to the south to the next small ridge for a another great view of the needle. Pretty sure saw Tonginita starring at me.
Hike safe, leave only foot steps, and take only photo memories, just like out on the reefs. Methaka.

7. Cocoputt

Aroa, Cook Islands +682 27 181
Excellent
57%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 461 reviews

Cocoputt

Reviewed By Kristin W - Auckland, New Zealand

We called in on a Sunday to pass some time as many other places on the island were shut. The complimentary beer with the game was awesome in the heat. Cool wee place, excellent views. Staff were pleasant and there was a cute cat. Well priced at $12 per person. We will be back.

8. Muri Night Market

Muri Beach, Ngatangiia, Cook Islands +682 52 241
Excellent
60%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 294 reviews

Muri Night Market

Reviewed By TrvEnthusiast - Florida

My wife and I drove down from the westside to have dinner here and we were not disappointed! Delicious fresh food options. I ordered a smoothie from this vendor (see photo) amazing. My wife had a calamari dish and I ate seafood pasta, yum!

9. Punanga Nui

Avarua, Cook Islands +682 79 781
Excellent
53%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 340 reviews

Punanga Nui

Saturday is the best time to visit this outdoor market where you can purchase fruits, vegetables, bedding and clothing.

Reviewed By Andy H - Sydney, Australia

Saturday morning on Raro just ain't Saturday morning without dropping in to Punanga Nui Markets. Don't go too early - allow the locals some set-up time and wait until the crowd builds a little to better immerse yourself in the experience. 0900-1000 is my window of opportunity. Situated on the main road in Avarua, capital of Rarotonga and main business district, the market is easily accessible and parking for those with a car is relatively easy. We enjoy checking out the stalls with fresh local produce - bananas, pineapples, papaya, taro - lots of nice looking fruit & veg. Keep an eye out for the rukau - made of young taro leaves and looking somewhat like spinach, this local dish is nutritious and tasty! There are also many stalls offering prepared food - sweet or savoury, you won't go hungry @ Punanga Nui. When you've stuffed yourself, check out the handicraft and souvenir stalls, carrying everything from t-shirts to sarongs, black pearls to tivaevae cloth, artificial flowers to exquisite carvings. Best of all, simply by walking around the markets, you will enjoy meeting locals, mingling with tourists, smelling the food and hearing local music FREE OF CHARGE!

10. Maire Nui Botanical Gardens

Titikaveka, Cook Islands +682 55 795
Excellent
48%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 397 reviews

Maire Nui Botanical Gardens

Located on the south coast of the island, these Gardens contain many local plants and flowers that are not only beautiful but have medicinal uses.

Reviewed By Jewlzcee - Hamilton

Enjoyed a very pleasant walk through the Gardens - many beautiful flowers in blossom. There is a donation request ($5) to walk through the Gardens. It is well worth the donation. The grounds are very well kept and it is just so lovely to be able to walk through at a leisurely pace. There is a cafe here but it was closed when I visited.

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