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One week in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Published 3rd Jan 2024

Kia Orana! And welcome to Raro.

If you have never been to Rarotonga and you have booked/ plan to book your next weeklong holiday, lucky you!

It can be puzzling at first, there are no addresses, no phone data roaming, no chain hotels – this little piece of paradise is VERY different to your usual island getaway – and that is what we absolutely love about the Cook Islands!

This collection of 15 islands is very close to our hearts, and we want to give you our top tips for basing yourself in the capital, Rarotonga for a week.

Don’t worry – you’ll see some Islands! And you’ll eat great food, meet friendly locals & swim in water so clear, you’ll come home and insist to your friends and family “The photos just don’t do it justice!!!” we know, we have been there before!

Lets walk you through a 7 day suggested itinerary

Day One – Chill out!

The quickest thing you will learn about the Cook Islands – is to slow down.

There is a speed limit of 50kms around the entire Island of Rarotonga, so take a breath and experience the amazing scenery.

Once you arrive you will probably experience a little jetlag, not because of the relatively short 6 hour direct flight from Sydney, but because the Cook Islands is across the date line, so you will go back and re-live the day you just had! This can be exhausting, so take it easy today. Pick up your car, check into your accommodation (we always recommend pre-booking a night for this reason) and get your bearings.

Muri Beach is a local hotspot with loads of dining options, crystal clear water in the lagoon, snorkel hire & plenty of parking to pull up and explore at leisure.

Day Two – Time to get serious about chilling out

This is the perfect opportunity to book a lagoon cruise. Captain Tama’s has been operating for over 30 years, and are a favourite of our team. If you have been to Muri, you would have seen the bright yellow boats leaving from just in front of the boat club.

This cruise includes lunch, a show, a glass bottom journey to a spectacular reef with snorkel & fin hire. This is an experience you should definitely not miss! This will take most of your day, spend the rest checking out where to have dinner at one of the many local hotspots (make sure to book between June & August in peak season)


Day Three – Explore a bit deeper

The beaches are magnificent in the island of Rarotonga, but equally breathtaking are the views from the mountains. If you are very adventurous, the Cross Island Trek is a phenomenal accomplishment. This is an arduous trek through the mountain from north to south in dense bush, taking you to the top of the ‘Needle’ for unbelievable 360 degree views of the Island.

However if you are less keen on this, there are many smaller bush walks which you will be rewarded with, the ability to drive to most trail heads. Trail maps can be found at most hotels, or online before you depart.

Make sure to check out Wigmore’s waterfall for a cool dip today, this is just off the road towards the south of Rarotonga, and a welcome treat after a hot day.


Day Four – Understand the culture

There is a long history of the Cook Islands & her people, and we recommend experiencing everything you can to immerse yourself in this rich and fascinating history of these islands.

To give you some ideas, on Saturdays there are Punanga Nui Markets – these are not your typical tourist traps. This is the centre of town with fresh produce galore, home-made foods, juices, remedies & jewellery. Plenty to see and do at these markets.

Visit the cultural centre, make sure you give yourself at least an hour to listen to the presentation from local guides, take your time to read through the unbelievable history of the island, and have lunch at the cute café attached!

This evening we encourage the Highland Paradise show & dinner – make sure to book a transfer – there is an arduous track leading into the heart of the island we don’t recommend navigating at night unless you know exactly where you are going.

This evening you will learn about the spirit of the island & her people through music and dance, and have a feast cooked by traditional methods. A night you shouldn’t miss!


Day Five – Get outta here (for a day)

While this is a Rarotonga adventure, you can’t go to the Cooks and not experience at least one of the outer islands!

Aitutaki Day tour is a perfect way to get a taste of Aitutaki and what the outer islands have to offer.

This tour departs from the airport on an Air Rarotonga flight, taking a short 50 minutes to arrive into paradise. You will be collected, taken on a lagoon cruise where you will see the famous One Foot Island, eat fresh caught fish by BBQ, swim & snorkel in the pristine waters of the lagoon and have a fantastic day.

After this huge day, you will be transferred back to the Aitutaki airport and come back to Rarotonga in the late afternoon.


Day Six– Ahhh serenity

Today is for trying something a little different. Rent a stand up paddle board or kayak on the Muri Lagoon, and enjoy your final full day in the beautiful Rarotonga.

Explore Avarua town for any last-minute souvenirs, get yourself a Pareu (Sarong) to remember your island holiday.

Sunset cruises are a great way to finish off today, bubbles & nibbles on the water watching the sun go down.


Day Seven – Goodbye Paradise! Aere Ra!

Most flights back to Australia depart in the morning, so today get that Duty free in, and say “goodbye for now little Raro” – You’ll be back!


There is so much to do – how can I book?

If you are ready to book in your island adventure, contact the team at Spacifica travel for the best deals and packages to the Cook Islands. Contact on 1800 800 722 or email the team at

Photos courtesy of Cook Islands Tourism, cookislandspocketguide, Alexandra Adoncello

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