cook island

Want to find out what are the best things to do in the Cook Islands for your next holiday?

Nestled in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands form a paradisiacal archipelago renowned for their stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.

Comprising 15 picturesque islands, each boasting its own unique charm, the Cook Islands offer travelers a glimpse into a world of tranquility and adventure.

In an era where experiences hold more value than possessions, travel has emerged as a transformative force, enriching lives and broadening horizons.

The allure of exploration, cultural immersion, and the thrill of discovery beckon adventurers to embark on journeys that leave indelible impressions and cherished memories.

The purpose of this article is to serve as a comprehensive guide to 21 of the Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands.

Whether you’re a sun-seeker, an adventure enthusiast, a culture connoisseur, or a relaxation seeker, the Cook Islands offer a plethora of activities and experiences to suit every taste and preference.

From exploring the vibrant markets of Rarotonga to snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Aitutaki’s lagoon, this guide aims to showcase the diverse array of attractions and adventures awaiting travelers in this idyllic destination.

As we delve into the essence of the Cook Islands, we’ll uncover hidden gems, cultural treasures, and natural wonders that define the essence of this enchanting archipelago.

Join us on a virtual journey through the heart of the South Pacific as we explore the best that the Cook Islands have to offer.

1. Explore Rarotonga


Rarotonga, the largest and most populous island in the Cook Islands, serves as the vibrant capital and cultural hub of this tropical paradise.

With its lush interior, stunning beaches, and lively atmosphere, Rarotonga beckons travelers to immerse themselves in its rich tapestry of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

2. Avarua Market:

Avarua Market

Dive into the heart of Rarotonga’s bustling capital at the Avarua Market, where vibrant stalls brim with fresh produce, local crafts, and delectable treats.

Explore the kaleidoscope of colors, flavors, and aromas as you mingle with locals and savor the essence of Cook Islands life.

3. Cross Island Trek:

Cross Island Trek

Embark on an unforgettable journey through Rarotonga’s verdant interior with the Cross Island Trek.

Traverse lush rainforests, babbling streams, and ancient volcanic peaks as you discover hidden waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and the untamed beauty of the island’s rugged terrain.

4. Muri Lagoon:

Muri Lagoon

Discover paradise at Muri Lagoon, where crystalline waters shimmer beneath the South Pacific sun.

Dive into the azure depths for a snorkeling adventure amidst vibrant coral gardens and tropical marine life, or drift lazily on a paddleboard as you soak in the serenity of this idyllic oasis.

5. Te Vara Nui Village Night Show:

Te Vara Nui Village

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Cook Islands at Te Vara Nui Village, where traditional dance, music, and cuisine come to life in a dazzling spectacle of Polynesian hospitality.

Experience the warmth of island hospitality as you feast on authentic cuisine, marvel at captivating performances, and embrace the spirit of aloha.

6. Cook Islands Cultural Village:

cook islands cultural village

Step back in time and delve into the storied past of the Cook Islands at the Cook Islands Cultural Village.

Explore traditional thatched huts, ancient artifacts, and living demonstrations of age-old customs as you gain insight into the enduring traditions and heritage of this enchanting archipelago.

7. Discover Aitutaki


Aitutaki, often referred to as the “Honeymoon Island,” beckons travelers with its pristine beaches, turquoise lagoons, and untouched natural beauty.

Located in the southern group of the Cook Islands, Aitutaki exudes an irresistible charm that captivates visitors from around the globe.

8. Aitutaki Lagoon:

Aitutaki Lagoon

Embark on a journey of serenity and splendor as you explore the breathtaking Aitutaki Lagoon.

Dive into its crystalline waters to snorkel amongst colorful coral gardens and exotic marine life, or simply bask in the sun on its powdery white sands, surrounded by the beauty of untouched paradise.

9. One Foot Island:

One Foot Island

Discover a slice of paradise at One Foot Island, renowned for its iconic sandbar and turquoise waters.

Wade through shallow lagoons, stroll along pristine beaches, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this idyllic islet, where time seems to stand still amidst the beauty of the South Pacific.

10. Maunga Pu Hiking Trail:

Maunga Pu Hiking Trail

Embark on a journey of discovery along the Maunga Pu Hiking Trail, where rugged terrain and lush landscapes converge to offer panoramic vistas of Aitutaki’s majestic beauty.

Trek through ancient forests, scale volcanic peaks, and marvel at the awe-inspiring vistas that await atop this natural masterpiece.

11. Aitutaki Market:

Aitutaki Market

Experience the vibrant culture and flavors of Aitutaki at its bustling local market.

Sample exotic fruits, fresh seafood, and authentic Cook Islands delicacies as you mingle with locals and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of island life.

12. Punarei Cultural Tours:

Punarei Cultural Tours

Delve into the rich heritage and traditions of Aitutaki with Punarei Cultural Tours.

Explore ancient marae sites, learn traditional crafts and customs, and immerse yourself in the warmth of Cook Islands hospitality as you embark on an unforgettable journey of cultural discovery.

13. Embrace the Local Culture

Cook Islands Local Culture

Embracing the local culture in the Cook Islands is not just an option; it’s a transformative experience that adds depth and authenticity to your journey.

The islands, rich in tradition and heritage, invite visitors to step beyond the tourist facade and engage with the vibrant tapestry of local life.

14. Traditional Performances and Festivals

Cook Islands performance
  1. Island Nights: Dive into the heart of Cook Islands culture with the enchanting experience of Island Nights. These cultural showcases, often hosted by resorts and local venues, offer an immersive evening of traditional music, dance, and cuisine. Indulge in a feast of local delicacies as you witness captivating performances that narrate the island’s history and celebrate its people.
  2. Punanga Nui Cultural Market: For an authentic taste of daily life and cultural expression, a visit to the Punanga Nui Cultural Market is a must. This vibrant marketplace in Avarua, Rarotonga, is a treasure trove of local crafts, art, and traditional goods. Engage with artisans, learn about the significance of each creation, and take home a piece of the Cook Islands’ cultural heritage.
  3. Traditional Dance Performances: The Cook Islands are renowned for their mesmerizing traditional dance forms. Witness the fluid movements, vibrant costumes, and rhythmic beats of hula and hip-shaking tamure. Many resorts and cultural villages offer regular dance performances, providing visitors with an opportunity to appreciate and participate in the rhythmic storytelling that is deeply ingrained in Cook Islands culture.

15. Snorkeling and Diving

Cook Islands Snorkeling

Snorkeling and diving in the pristine waters of the Cook Islands offer unparalleled opportunities for underwater exploration and discovery.

  1. Best Spots for Underwater Exploration: Explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with life at some of the Cook Islands’ best snorkeling and diving spots. From the colorful coral gardens of Aitutaki Lagoon to the underwater caves and drop-offs of Rarotonga’s coast, each site offers a unique glimpse into the mesmerizing beauty of the South Pacific’s marine ecosystem.
  2. Marine Life Diversity: Encounter a kaleidoscope of marine life as you venture beneath the waves. Swim alongside tropical fish, graceful rays, and curious sea turtles as they navigate the crystal-clear waters of the Cook Islands. From the elusive octopus to the majestic humpback whale, the diversity of underwater inhabitants promises unforgettable encounters at every turn.

16. Sailing and Boat Tours

Cook Islands Cruise

Sailing and boat tours offer a unique perspective of the Cook Islands’ pristine coastline and secluded islets.

  1. Sunset Cruises: Set sail into the golden hues of the setting sun on a mesmerizing sunset cruise. Drift lazily along the tranquil waters of the lagoon as you sip cocktails and savor canapés, basking in the warm glow of twilight and the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Sunset cruises are the perfect way to unwind and soak in the magic of the South Pacific’s most enchanting moments.
  2. Day Trips to Nearby Islets: Embark on a day of adventure and exploration with a boat tour to nearby islets. Discover uninhabited cays, pristine beaches, and secluded lagoons as you island-hop through the shimmering waters of the Cook Islands. Snorkel in hidden bays, picnic on secluded shores, and immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of these idyllic island paradises.

17. Indulge in Their Local Cuisine:

Cook Islands Food

Cook Islands cuisine is a tantalizing fusion of flavors, reflecting the vibrant cultural heritage and abundant natural resources of this tropical paradise.

Drawing inspiration from Polynesian, European, and Asian influences, Cook Islands dishes showcase the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking techniques that have been passed down through generations.

Popular Dishes to Try:

  1. Ika Mata: A beloved staple of Cook Islands cuisine, Ika Mata is a refreshing dish of raw fish marinated in coconut cream, lime juice, and fresh vegetables. The delicate balance of flavors, combined with the richness of coconut, creates a culinary sensation that embodies the essence of island living.
  2. Rukau: Rukau, or taro leaves, are a versatile ingredient used in many Cook Islands dishes. Cooked to perfection and served with coconut cream, onion, and sometimes meat or seafood, Rukau is a hearty and satisfying accompaniment to any meal, offering a taste of traditional Polynesian fare.
  3. Rori: Rori, or banana pudding, is a decadent dessert that delights the senses with its creamy texture and sweet flavor. Made from ripe bananas, coconut cream, and sugar, Rori is a comforting treat that provides a taste of tropical indulgence with every spoonful.

Dining Experiences and Local Eateries:

From roadside stalls to fine dining establishments, the Cook Islands offer a wealth of dining experiences that cater to every palate and preference.

Sample fresh seafood at beachside cafes, savor traditional favorites at local markets, or indulge in gourmet cuisine at award-winning restaurants overlooking the azure waters of the Pacific.

18. Relaxation and Wellness

Cook Islands Yoga

Find your slice of paradise amidst the Cook Islands’ serene beaches and tranquil spots.

Sink your toes into powdery white sands, listen to the gentle lapping of turquoise waves, and let the warm South Pacific sun melt away your cares.

From secluded coves to hidden lagoons, the Cook Islands offer a myriad of idyllic settings where you can unwind, recharge, and reconnect with nature.

Escape the stresses of everyday life and embark on a journey of self-discovery with a yoga retreat or wellness program in the Cook Islands.

Immerse yourself in the healing powers of yoga, meditation, and holistic therapies as you rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit amidst the island’s breathtaking landscapes.

From sunrise yoga sessions on the beach to guided mindfulness practices in lush rainforest settings, the Cook Islands provide the perfect backdrop for your wellness journey.

Pamper yourself with indulgent spa treatments and massage services that soothe the senses and rejuvenate the soul.

From traditional Polynesian massages using locally sourced ingredients to luxurious spa rituals inspired by ancient healing traditions, the Cook Islands offer a wealth of wellness experiences designed to nourish and nurture your well-being.

Let skilled therapists melt away tension with aromatic oils, volcanic stones, and gentle techniques that leave you feeling blissfully relaxed and revitalized.

19. Adventure and Eco-Tourism

Cook Islands Adventure

Explore the natural wonders of the Cook Islands through a network of hiking and nature trails that wind through lush rainforests, rugged mountains, and pristine landscapes.

Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure of discovery as you traverse ancient paths, encounter native flora and fauna, and uncover breathtaking vistas that showcase the untouched beauty of these enchanting islands.

Experience the wonders of the Cook Islands while treading lightly on the earth with eco-friendly tours and initiatives that promote sustainability and conservation.

From guided nature walks led by local experts to community-based eco-tourism projects that support conservation efforts and preserve cultural heritage, the Cook Islands offer a range of responsible travel options that allow you to explore, learn, and give back to the environment and communities you visit.

Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of the Cook Islands with bird watching and wildlife encounters that bring you face-to-face with the island’s diverse ecosystems and unique inhabitants.

Discover rare and endemic bird species in their natural habitats, from colorful lorikeets and majestic frigatebirds to the charming kakerori, a small forest bird found only on Rarotonga.

Embark on guided tours and excursions that take you off the beaten path and into the heart of the Cook Islands’ wilderness, where every turn offers the chance to encounter fascinating wildlife and embrace the wonders of nature.

20. Shopping and Souvenirs

Cook Islands Shopping

Discover the vibrant tapestry of Cook Islands’ culture and craftsmanship through unique local crafts and souvenirs that capture the essence of this tropical paradise.

From hand-carved wooden artifacts and intricately woven textiles to vibrant pareus (sarongs) and delicate shell jewelry, the Cook Islands offer an array of treasures that reflect the island’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

Explore the bustling markets and artisan boutiques of the Cook Islands to find the perfect memento of your island getaway.

Visit Punanga Nui Cultural Market in Avarua, Rarotonga, where local artisans showcase their wares amidst a lively atmosphere of music and food.

Wander through quaint villages and coastal towns to discover hidden gems and locally owned shops that offer authentic Cook Islands crafts and souvenirs.

While bargaining is not common practice in the Cook Islands, it’s always polite to inquire about prices and negotiate respectfully when purchasing items from local vendors.

Remember to greet shopkeepers with a friendly “kia ora” (hello) and show appreciation for their craftsmanship and hospitality.

Take the time to learn about the cultural significance of the items you’re interested in and ask questions to deepen your understanding of the local traditions and customs.

21. Island Hopping

cook islands

Embark on an exhilarating journey of discovery as you explore the captivating beauty of the Cook Islands’ nearby islands and atolls.

From the lush landscapes of Rarotonga to the pristine shores of Aitutaki, each island offers its own unique charm and allure waiting to be explored.

Set sail on a seafaring adventure and chart a course to remote isles and hidden coves where untouched natural beauty and cultural wonders await.

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life with day trips to uninhabited islets that dot the azure waters of the Cook Islands.

Discover secluded beaches, crystal-clear lagoons, and vibrant coral reefs as you venture off the beaten path and into the heart of paradise.

Pack a picnic and soak in the serenity of your own private paradise, where the only footprints in the sand are your own.

Dive into the turquoise waters of the Cook Islands and discover a world of wonder beneath the waves.

Snorkel amongst colorful coral gardens, tropical fish, and playful marine life as you explore the vibrant underwater ecosystems that thrive in the warm South Pacific waters.

After a morning of snorkeling, unwind on a secluded beach and enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the beauty of nature, where the only sound is the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore.

Practical Tips for Travelers

Cook Islands Hopping

A. Best Time to Visit the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands boast a year-round tropical climate, making any time of year ideal for a visit.

However, the dry season, which runs from May to October, is generally considered the best time to visit, with warm temperatures, clear skies, and lower humidity.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of April or November for a more tranquil experience.

B. Accommodation Options and Recommendations

From luxury resorts to intimate beachside bungalows, the Cook Islands offer a range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget.

Choose from overwater villas with panoramic ocean views, cozy eco-lodges nestled in lush rainforest settings, or family-friendly resorts with ample amenities and activities.

Be sure to book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice and ensure a memorable stay in paradise.

C. Transportation Within the Islands

Getting around the Cook Islands is easy and convenient, with a variety of transportation options available.

Renting a car or scooter is a popular choice for exploring the islands at your own pace, allowing you the freedom to venture off the beaten path and discover hidden gems along the way.

Alternatively, public buses and taxis provide affordable and reliable transportation between major towns and attractions, while inter-island flights and ferries offer convenient access to neighboring islands and atolls.

D. Cultural Etiquette and Respect for Local Customs

As a visitor to the Cook Islands, it’s important to respect the local culture and customs of this vibrant island nation.

Embrace the spirit of aloha and greet locals with a warm smile and a friendly “kia ora” (hello).

Dress modestly when visiting villages and sacred sites, and always ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or cultural performances.

Take the time to learn about the traditions and protocols of the Cook Islands, and approach interactions with humility, curiosity, and respect for the rich heritage and customs of the local community.


As we conclude our journey through the enchanting landscapes and vibrant culture of the Cook Islands, let’s take a moment to recap some of the top things to do that make this destination truly unforgettable.

From exploring the bustling markets of Rarotonga to snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Aitutaki’s lagoon, the Cook Islands offer a wealth of experiences that capture the essence of island life.

With its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and warm hospitality, the Cook Islands beckon travelers from around the world to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure.

Whether you seek relaxation, cultural immersion, or thrilling outdoor pursuits, the islands offer something for everyone to enjoy.

Soak in the stunning sunsets, embrace the rhythm of island life, and let the beauty of the Cook Islands leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul.

Are you ready to experience the magic of the Cook Islands for yourself?

Start planning your adventure today and discover the endless wonders that await in this tropical paradise.

Whether you’re dreaming of snorkeling in turquoise waters, hiking through lush jungles, or immersing yourself in vibrant cultural traditions, the Cook Islands promise an unforgettable journey filled with moments of joy, wonder, and discovery.

Cook Islands water

FAQ’s About the Cook Islands:

Is Cook Islands Better than Fiji?

Determining whether the Cook Islands are better than Fiji largely depends on individual preferences and what travelers are seeking in their destination.

Both destinations offer stunning natural beauty, pristine beaches, and rich cultural experiences.

Fiji is larger and more developed, with a wider range of accommodation options and activities.

On the other hand, the Cook Islands offer a more intimate and laid-back atmosphere, with fewer crowds and a slower pace of life.

Ultimately, the choice between the two destinations comes down to personal preferences and travel priorities.

Is Cook Islands Expensive?

The Cook Islands can be considered moderately expensive for travelers, particularly compared to some Southeast Asian destinations.

Accommodation, dining, and activities in the Cook Islands can be relatively pricey due to its remote location and reliance on imported goods.

However, travelers can find a range of options to suit different budgets, from luxury resorts to budget accommodations and dining options.

It’s advisable to budget accordingly and research affordable options in advance to make the most of your Cook Islands experience without breaking the bank.

Do You Need a Passport to Go to the Cook Islands from Australia?

Yes, Australian citizens require a valid passport to travel to the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands are an independent territory in free association with New Zealand, and visitors from Australia, as well as other countries, must present a valid passport upon entry.

Additionally, travelers should ensure that their passport is valid for at least six months beyond their intended date of departure from the Cook Islands.

Can You Fly to Cook Islands from Australia?

Yes, you can fly to the Cook Islands from Australia, but direct flights are not available.

Travelers typically fly from Australia to Auckland, New Zealand, and then take a connecting flight to Rarotonga, the main island in the Cook Islands.

Several airlines operate flights from major Australian cities to Auckland, including Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Australia.

From Auckland, Air New Zealand offers regular flights to Rarotonga, making it a convenient route for travelers from Australia.

How Much Is It to Go to the Cook Islands?

The cost of a trip to the Cook Islands can vary depending on various factors such as the duration of stay, choice of accommodation, dining preferences, and activities.

On average, travelers should budget for accommodation costs ranging from AUD $100 to $500 per night, depending on the type and location of the accommodation.

Dining expenses can vary widely, but budgeting around AUD $30 to $100 per person per day for meals is a reasonable estimate.

Additionally, expenses for activities such as tours, water sports, and transportation should be factored into the overall budget.

Overall, a comfortable and enjoyable trip to the Cook Islands typically requires a moderate to mid-range budget.

Who Flies Direct to Cook Islands?

As of my last update, there are no airlines that operate direct flights from Australia to the Cook Islands.

Travelers typically fly from major Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane to Auckland, New Zealand, and then take a connecting flight to Rarotonga, the main island in the Cook Islands.

Air New Zealand is the primary airline that operates flights between Auckland and Rarotonga, offering several flights per week.

Other airlines may also offer connecting flights to the Cook Islands via other international hubs.

It’s advisable to check with airlines for the most up-to-date flight schedules and routes.

Cook Islands beautiful

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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