Pack your bags, you are going to the Cook Islands.
How lucky are we? Another destination added to the quarantine-free travel list. On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands would begin on May 17. Flights are already available with Air New Zealand flying directly to Rarotonga from Auckland. And if you are planning a trip to the Cook Islands anytime soon, we decided to round up 12 of the best things to do while visiting this year. Course, the Cook Islands consists of 15 islands, so it is hard to get around, hence why our round up focuses on the Rarotonga area.
1. Muri Lagoon
This spot is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you don´t plan to stay overnight here, you need to at least visit it for a day of swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and chilling out on the stunning beaches. At low tide, you can walk out to the scenic lagoon. Muri Beach also makes an epic experience for families because it offers plenty of activities. Indeed, one of the greatest things to do in Rarotonga.
2. The Needle
Te Rua Manga or The Needle is a mountain on Rarotonga and one of the best known landmarks on the island. It makes a challenging but rewarding hike. The hike begins on the south of the Harbour, following plenty of sign posts, you must trek up the walking track to the base of the spire. Prepare for the most breathtaking views when you reach the top. Be sure to snap an insta-worthy moment next to the spire.
3. Night Markets
Discover Cook Islands culture by appeasing your tastebuds at Muri Night Market. Explore the various food trucks and stalls while listening to live music and experiencing the best vibes. This market displays a diverse collection of food from seafood, BBQ food, curries, pizza, dessert, wok noodles and so much more mouth-watering cuisine. Be sure to go early so that you get the greatest selection of cheap eats.
📍 Ngatangiia District, Cook Islands
4. The Aitutaki Lagoon
This is a global bucket-list spot and one of the most popular island hops from Rarotonga. Offering white sandy beaches, aqua blue clear waters, barrier reefs and more…it is totally worth the short 45 minute flight from Rarotonga. Boasting total Maldives vibes, opt to do a day trip and you´ll be back in your hotel in Rarotonga by nightfall. Otherwise, for some extra glamour, you could stay at Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort in a hut along the sea.
5. Snorkeling at Aroa Marine Reserve
This place is a safe space to snorkel because it is within a fringing coral reef border, so you are protected against any large marine life such as sharks. Consequently, if you are as scared of sharks as myself, now is your time to embrace the snorkeling culture. Enjoy sea life from the surface and expect to see hundreds of species of coloured fish like butterflyfish, parrotfish and plenty more. If you have a GoPro, it will make an excellent video.
If you like history and culture, you will love the museums on Rarotonga. For example, Cook Islands National Museum has a very informative visual display that parents and kids can enjoy for just $5. Or else, opt to appreciate contemporary artworks at the Kay George Design Gallery.
7. Black Rock Beach
Another fantastic spot for a family day out. When the tide is in, you can dive from the black rocks into the rock pools below. Equally, it is a popular place to watch a majestic sunset from the rocks. Totally instagrammable! Excitingly, Black Rock is home to a tennis centre, beach volleyball courts and Rarotonga’s only golf course…so you won´t get bored.
8. Wigmores Waterfall
If you plan to trek up to The Needle, you could pop this swimming attraction on your agenda as it is on the same route. Perhaps, you can visit on the way back from The Needle to cool off after your hike. Chill on the cliff as the water cascades down around you into the swimming hole. How relaxing!
📍 Takitumu District, Cook Islands
9. Titikaveke Beach
This destination is a popular spot to stay for the duration of your holiday. Enter a tranquil paradise land surrounded by stunning ocean views and lush beaches. The water is so clear you can see all the fish swimming in the coral head. A great place to entertain kids. Likewise, there are some incredible watersports on offer like scrub diving, paddle boarding and much more. Sunset presents the most beautiful photo opportunities ever.
10. Night Paddle Lagoon Tours
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, splash some extra cash on a SUP lagoon tour. Take a paddleboard with coloured neon lights at the bottom, glide across the ocean and take in the epic scenery, awesome sunset and stunning sea life at night. Book your experience via Ariki Adventures.
This resort might be a little over budget, but you should try to visit for a day anyways. For all those Instagram lovers, it is a fabulous spot for incredible shots from the canapes in the trees on the beach to the infinity pool to the legendary sunsets. Additionally, adults can delight in a romantic meal, on the beach, under the stars. This is a must-visit resort in Rarotonga.
📍 Main Road – Titikaveka, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
This award-winning beachfront restaurant provides the ultimate dining experience on the beach. Relax in an amazing atmosphere while chowing down on some of the finest island cuisine. For the most pleasure, pair your meal with some great cocktails like a frozen margarita or a long island ice tea. Certainly, one of the best things to do in Rarotonga.
📍 Manuia Beach Resort Main Road, Arorangi District, Cook Islands