Are There Mosquitoes in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands?
Before heading to the Cook Islands, you will probably hear scary stories about tropical islands swarming with mosquitoes. No need to panic though, the situation is not that bad in the Cook Islands (with the exception of some of the forest hikes, we’re not going to lie). Although the hot weather and humid wet season create the perfect environment for mosquitoes in the Cook Islands, the situation is easily manageable.
When is the Mosquito Season in the Cook Islands?
Mosquitos are around all year in the Cook Islands, so it’s a good idea to always have some sort of insect repellent on hand, especially when going into any forested areas. However, mosquitoes are most abundant during the wet season, from around mid-December to mid-April. Learn more about the seasons in our guide, Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate.
Is There Dengue Fever in the Cook Islands?
Yes, there have been outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in the Cook Islands, especially dengue fever, which causes high fever, headache, etc. In short, it can put a real downer on your holiday, making it all the more important to take some steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Learn more about dengue fever and how to treat it in Is it Safe to Travel to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
Is There Zika Virus in the Cook Islands?
Less common is the Zika virus, which has historically had outbreaks in the Cook Islands. Check travel advisories for outbreaks before you travel and discuss plans with your doctor if you are pregnant or otherwise vulnerable.
With all of the above in mind, we have designed this guide of several ways to avoid mosquito bites in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Let’s begin!
1. Protect Yourself with Mosquito Repellents
The most obvious thing to do to avoid being bitten is to push back, literally. Push the mosquitoes away with powerful insect repellent! While there are a lot of insect repellents on the market, be aware that the cheap chemical ones can be more harmful to your health than the mosquito bite itself. Ingredients like DEET can be pretty nasty, especially when combined with chemicals commonly found in other skin products like sunscreen and moisturiser. We’ve compiled a list of the 9 Eco-Friendly Mosquito Repellents for the Cook Islands to help you pick so good options for adults and kids alike.
2. Wear Long-Sleeved Clothing
The science is pretty easy on this one: wear a long-sleeve layer and without exposed skin, you won’t be bitten. This is not really a high-tech solution but it works wonders. In fact, some clothing brands are starting to design clothing with insect repellent technologies integrated into the fabric. For example, ExOfficio offers full spectrum insect protection from mosquitoes, ants, ticks and even flies!
3. Avoid the Wet Season
Mosquitoes love humid and hot weather so during the wet season in the Cook Islands, they’re in paradise. While the situation is not unmanageable during the wet season, there is definitely much fewer mosquitoes around during the dry season. So if mosquitoes are a big worry, you may want to target the months of April through to October (the dry season) instead of the months of November through to March (the wet season). Learn more about the weather and climate of the Cook Islands in our guide, Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate.
4. Don’t Go Out Straight After the Rain
Mosquitoes are most active right after a rainstorm. The increased humidity in the air gives them wings (literally!) so give it a few hours after it has been raining before heading out. In the meantime, you can check out one of the amazing museums and galleries on Rarotonga. Otherwise, what about grabbing a bite to eat in one of the wonderful eateries around? Check out other rainy day activities in our 20 Things to Do in the Cook Islands on a Rainy Day.
5. Ask for a Mosquito Net
Some accommodation providers have mosquito nets at the ready in the room before you even check-in, while others might just have some on hand if you ask for it. To be honest, we have not experienced bad nights in the Cook Islands but even if it just gives you peace of mind, why not? If you’re staying somewhere where you suspect there are no mosquito nets available, bring your own travel mosquito net. Check out more things to pack in our Cook Islands Packing List.
6. Use Your Accommodation’s Mosquito Kit
Speaking of what your accommodation can do for your mosquito problem, many accommodations offer some form of mosquito repellent. Some have mosquito coils and insect sprays provided in your room.
7. Avoid Staying Inland
Although the lush green interior of Rarotonga is attractive, it’s also attractive to mosquitos. Avoid staying in accommodation inland if you’re usually targetted by mosquitos. Inland accommodations have a much harder time controlling mosquitos, especially in the wet season. If you’re going on inland hikes or tours, needless to say, you’ll need insect repellent.
8. Don’t Stay Near Stagnant Water
Similarly to some of the points above, mosquitoes love stagnant water. This is where they lay their eggs. For the single mosquitoes ready to party, this is where the action happens. So if you see a puddle or a bit of stagnant water, choose to sit a bit further to avoid being part of the buffet…
9. Take Vitamin B
Seafood, eggs, bananas and potatoes are all rich in Vitamin B which, with enough in your bloodstream, does not attract mosquitoes… Or at least that is what the local tales tell. But since the tip is passed from generation to generation, why not jump on the bandwagon? If you feel like a boost, go for some Vitamin B supplements. Of course, ask your doctor in case of doubt. For more pills to pop, check out the What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for the Cook Islands.
10. Take Antihistamine
If you have any questions about antihistamines, ask your doctor. In short, these pills are a remedy against an allergic reaction. Because of their active ingredients, they are also a great option to prevent bites in the first place. You can find them at any good pharmacy or get them prescribed to you by your GP. Remember, Rarotonga only has a few pharmacies and Aitutaki has none, so bring these from home in case antihistamines are not in stock. Antihistamines are also a recommendation in What to Medication to Pack for the Cook Islands.
11. If Bitten, Fight the Itch with Antiseptic Cream
When thinking about what to pack in your first aid kit for the Cook Islands, we suggest packing a good antiseptic cream. It is particularly helpful to disinfect and soothe mosquito bites. Keeping on top of your bites is the best way to cope with mosquitoes if you start to get bitten.
12. Get Your Vaccines Done
Although there are no vaccines for mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, getting your travel vaccines done is always a good idea. It gives you peace of mind and also will prepare you for other trips abroad you might have. Trust us, once you start enjoying the South Pacific, you’ll never want to stop! Make sure to sort out your vaccines with your GP a few weeks before your trips as some vaccines may need to be ordered. Learn more about recommended vaccines in our guide, Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to the Cook Islands?
More About Staying Healthy in the Cook Islands
That’s it for our ways to avoid mosquito bites in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Nevertheless, we still have plenty of tips to keep yourself healthy while exploring the Cooks. Check out these tips:
- 9 Eco-Friendly Mosquito Repellents for the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- Is the Water Safe to Drink in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
Finally, get a more comprehensive list of essential tips in the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands and The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.