101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]
101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]

© Cook Islands Tourism

The Top Tours, Attractions and Activities in the Cook Islands

If you have ever wondered what there is to do in the Cook Islands, well, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Cook Islands Pocket Guide, we know a thing or two (or 101 things) about what to do in the Cook Islands. From the hotspot of Rarotonga to the lesser-visited outer islands, we’ve compiled all of the best tours, attractions and activities that we think you’ll love. It’s a long one, so let’s waste no more time in getting to the 101 best things to do in the Cook Islands!

1. Swim with Turtles in Rarotonga

Guarantee a sighting of gorgeous sea turtles in their natural environment on one of Rarotonga’s turtle swimming tours. Whether focussed on sea scooters or underwater photography, there are several options for turtle swimming across Raro. Be sure to compare using the 10 Best Turtle Swimming Tours in Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga. See the link above for operator locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Charlotte Piho - CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

2. Cruise the Breathtaking Aitutaki Lagoon

One of the most stunning lagoons in the South Pacific (and the world?), a cruise on the Aitutaki Lagoon is not to be missed! Be treated to an exciting day of snorkelling, stopping off at a sandbank, indulging in a barbecue buffet, and getting your passport stamped at One Foot Island. There are many ways to cruise the Aitutaki Lagoon so compare them all in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.

Location: Aitutaki. Cruises depart from Ootu Beach or Arutanga Wharf but transfers are typically included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

3. Experience Cultural Dancing and Local Food at an “Island Night”

Watch talented dancers adorned in traditional costumes at one of the Cook Islands’ cultural shows also known as “island nights”. The performance is not all there is to look forward to, however, as devouring plate after plate of all kinds of traditional Cook Islands dishes from the buffet is also a reason to join in. See the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to compare your options.

Location: Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu. See the link above for locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Turama Photography - Cook Islands Tourism

4. Trek to Anatakitaki Cave on Atiu

A must-see attraction on the island of Atiu, Anatakitaki Caves are a series of caves with awesome limestone stalactites and home to a rare bird that uses sonar like a bat! Join Atiu Eco-Adventure Anatakitaki Cave Tour for a three-hour guided experience taking you through the dense rainforest to three spectacular caves. The caves aren’t the only ones to explore in the Cook Islands, however, so check out the 10 Best Caves in the Cook Islands.

Location: East side of Atiu. Transfers are included in the tour mentioned.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

5. Hike the Cross Island Trek

The longest hiking trail on Rarotonga, the Cross Island Trek is a 6km (3.7-mile) adventure through verdant jungle and over mountain tops. Either tackle the hike independently following the orange markers or join Maunga Tours for a guided eco-tour. Find out more about the trail in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in the Cook Islands.

Location: Start from the end of Uruau Drive in Avarua (if walking from town, this adds an additional 3km/1 mile to your journey). The trail ends at the end of Papua Road, which is approximately 1.6km (1 mile) from the main road where you can catch the bus.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

6. Snorkel at the Tikioki Marine Reserve

Often referred to as the “Fruits of Rarotonga” snorkelling spot, Tikioki Marine Reserve is one of the best places to snorkel in Rarotonga. Park opposite the Fruits of Rarotonga shop and wade out in waist-deep water where you’ll already be able to see the colourful swimming around your legs before the lagoon deepens further. Learn more and discover more amazing snorkelling spots in The Top 10 Places to Snorkel in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Opposite Fruits of Rarotonga, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

7. Jump into the Deep Cave Pool of Vai Nauri on Mitiaro

One of the best (if not the best) swimming caves in the Cook Islands, Vai Nauri on the island of Mitiaro holds a deep pool with clear deep blue waters and striking limestone features. Discover more amazing attractions on the island in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mitiaro.

Location: Mitiaro. A short dead-end road to Vai Naui can be found a few hundred metres north of the Lake Rotonui turnoff.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

8. Go for a Swim at the Cook Islands’ Only Waterfall

Cool off and get some “cool” pics at the Papua Waterfall. Also known as Wigmore’s Waterfall, the falls are one of Rarotonga‘s stunning natural attractions along with The Top 10 Natural Wonders in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. End of Papua Road, Vaimaanga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

9. Join the Locals for a Progressive Dinner Tour on Rarotonga

The Progressive Dinner Tour removes the barrier between “tourist” and “local”. Join Cook Islands Tours as they transport you across the island for a three-course dinner with each course in a different local home. Learn more and book your progressive dinner on Viator or TripadvisorPlus, see alternative food tours in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Transfers are included from the main road.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

10. Shop and Try Delicious Street Food at the Punanga Nui Market

The Punanga Nui Market of Avarua, Rarotonga comes to life on a Saturday morning until noon. The island’s passionate artists, chefs, growers and gatherers come together in a whirlwind of tropical produce, smoothies, barbecued treats, pareu (sarongs) of all colours and locally farmed black pearls. Punanga Nui is not the only market, so check out more in the 5 Best Markets in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), west end of Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

11. Hit the Awesome Kayaking Spots

Kayaks are a staple of any beachfront accommodation in Rarotonga and Aitutaki. With flat lagoon waters to enjoy, having a paddle is easy – just be careful of the coral and avoid the lagoon passages with strong currents. Check out the best places to paddle in Kayaking in the Cook Islands: Top 5 Places to Kayak.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See the link above for specific kayaking locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

12. Go for a Swim in Vai Tango Cave on Mauke

A short walk from Ngatiarua village on the island of Mauke, Vai Tanga Cave is a popular swimming hole with a platform. It’s just one of the 15 Best Things to Do on Mauke.

Location: Mauke. Accessible off the main road in Ngatiarua. Ask locals where to find the trail. Alternatively, Vai Tango Cave is included on tours around the island.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

13. Get the “Private Beach” Experience on the Outer Islands

Ok, so the beaches hardly ever feel too “crowded” in the Cook Islands’ more popular islands, like Rarotonga and Aitutaki. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that it gets any better than their pristine beaches. But it does! On the outer islands, such as Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro and Atiu you’ll find tiny beaches separated by “makatea” (coral rock). That’s why many of the beaches here feature in our 10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands.

Location: Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro and Atiu. See specific beach locations in the link above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

14. Jump on a Cruise of the Muri Lagoon

A fun day out for all ages, the cruises on the Muri Lagoon are a varied slice of island life with snorkelling, a show and a barbecue meal included. Choose from either Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Koka Lagoon Cruises (on Viator and Tripadvisor) which you can compare in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Muri Beach.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

15. Hike Up (or Just Take a Photo From Afar) of The Needle

One of the most prominent sights on RarotongaTe Rua Manga, otherwise known as The Needle, is an exposed breccia structure reaching 413m (1,355ft) high. There are many views of The Needle from the northern end of Rarotonga, or you can hike to the peak on the Cross Island Trek – specific instructions can be found in the 10 Best Walks on Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga. The trailhead for The Needle Walk is at the end of Uruau Drive in Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

16. Explore Tuatini, Te Ruarere or Toru a Poru Caves on Mangaia

Mangaia is home to some of the largest and most impressive caves in the Cook Islands. Some spectacular caves to visit include Te Ruarere, Toru a Poru and Tuatini, all of which you can hire guides to lead you through their complex network of tunnels. Find more amazing experiences on the islands in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mangaia.

Location: Mangaia. See cave locations in the 5 Best Caves on Mangaia.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

17. Immerse in the Cook Islands Culture with Tumutoa Tours

A fun and interactive cultural experience, Tumutoa Tours offers four awesome daytime and evening tours on Rarotonga. Your guide, Tumutoa, adorned in traditional Cook Islander attire and a character you will never forget, will teach you how to husk a coconut, prepare an “umukai” and more depending on which tour you chose. Find out more in the 10 Best Cultural Activities in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

18. Learn About the History of the Cook Islands at the Te Ara Museum

This contemporary museum and cultural enterprise centre in Muri packs in key aspects of the Cook Islands’ history through captivating displays. Te Ara Museum is an affordable all-weather activity that will only take an hour or so from your day. Learn more about it in the 5 Best Museums in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

19. Cruise the Aitutaki Lagoon at Sunset

Ok, so we’ve talked about lagoon cruises in Aitutaki. But at sunset… Oh boy! Join either Kutekute Island Tours & Transfers for snorkelling, a relaxing float on a water hammock and indulging in a private sunset platter on the beach or Teking Lagoon Tours for a sunset tour to Honeymoon Island with a bottle of bubbles. Compare your options further in The Best Sunset Cruises in the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. Charters depart from Ootu Beach, but transfers are typically included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

20. Hike the Raemaru Track on Rarotonga

Another popular hike on Rarotonga, mainly because it’s a “walk in the park” compared to the long journey and rough conditions of the Cross Island Trek, the Raemaru Track is a mountain hike with spectacular views and even a rockface climb on the west side of Rarotonga. Either go yourself or do a guided hike with Adventure Cook Islands or Tumutoa Tours – check out the 8 Best Guided Walks in the Cook Islands for details.

Location: Rarotonga. Raemaru Heights Road, Arorangi.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

21. Swing on the Largest Banyan Tree in the South Pacific

Covering an area of 4,000m² (43,000ft²), Mauke’s giant banyan tree is the largest in the South Pacific. The trail to the tree passes Vai Moti, a small cave with a swimming hole where you a take a quick dip. Finally, you’ll come across the tangled roots hanging from above from which the locals have made an awesome tree swing with the roots – so have a go! Check out more of the top sights across the islands in the Top 10 Sights in the Cook Islands.

Location: Mauke. As the trail is difficult to find, it is best to explore this area with a guide, which can be arranged through your Mauke accommodation.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

22. See More of the Cook Islands’ Marine Life on a Scuba Diving Trip

We’ve touched on how good the snorkelling is in the Cook Islands, now imagine the scuba diving! If you’re new to diving, dive operators on Rarotonga and Aitutaki can show you the ropes (or the tubes?) with scuba diving lessons or introductory dives in the lagoon. If you’re certified, this opens up much more dive sites where the reef drops off into the deep blue. Learn more about what the dives have to offer in The Top 10 Places to Scuba Dive.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See the link above for the location of each dive operator.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Pexels

23. Take a Boat Trip on the South Pacific’s Most Isolated Lagoons

Almost all of the Northern Group islands are, in fact, coral atolls with a lagoon. A must-do, if you’re lucky enough to reach these far-flung atolls, is exploring these breathtaking seascapes by boat. Accommodation hosts and even local fishermen are happy to take visitors out onto their lagoon.

Location: PukapukaPenrhynManihiki and Rakahanga in the Northern Group.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Tayla Beddoes - Cook Islands Tourism

24. See the Muri Lagoon Light Up on a Night SUP Tour

Both Ariki Adventures and KiteSUP offer wonderful night stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) tours on Rarotonga’s Muri Lagoon. Ariki Adventures focuses more on the nature of the uninhabited island they visit, while KiteSUP includes a fire show on an island. Learn more about these experiences and more in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Ariki Adventures – Tours depart from Muri Beach in front of the Muri Beach Club Hotel. KiteSUP – 56 Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

25. Swim with Humpback Whales in Aitutaki

From July to October, whales migrate to the warm waters of the Cook Islands where, in Aitutaki, you have the incredible opportunity to see these gentle giants from both above the surface and when snorkelling alongside them. Whale excursions are available with Wet & Wild and Bubbles Below, which you can learn more about in the 7 Best Whale Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. Discover more about the tours and their locations in the link above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

26. Soothe Your Skin in the Sulphur Pools of Vai Marere

The only sulphur pool in the Cook Islands, Vai Marere is known among the locals of Mitiaro for its healing minerals. Bathe in the healing waters yourself by finding this cave pool after a 10-minute walk from the islands’ main village, Mangarei. Discover similar relaxing activities in the 10 Most Relaxing Things to Do in the Cook Islands.

Location: Mitiaro. Just off the cross-island road, approximately 200m/219 yards (10-minute walk) from Mangarei.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

27. Delve into the Cave of Vai Tamaroa

Another one of Mitiaro’s spectacular swimming caves, Vai Tamaroa requires a little walking to get to but reaching the 10m (30ft) deep circular hole mostly filled with water to jump in is totally worth it. Check out more “ways with water” in the 10 Best Water Activities in the Cook Islands.

Location: Mitiaro. Along the east coast road, spot the Vai Tamaroa sign a few hundred metres south of the Lake Rotonui turnoff.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

28. See the Fish of the Outer Reef (Without Getting Wet) on the Raro Reef Sub

A water tour with a difference, cruise to the deep outer reef with Raro Reef Sub. Look out for large pelagic fish, turtles, sharks, whales (in the season) and even a shipwreck from a semi-submersible vessel. This is also a spectacular option with kids, as listed in the 40 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands with Kids.

Location: Rarotonga. Tours depart from Avatiu Harbour, Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Reef Sub

29. Snorkel and See the Spiritual Site of Black Rock

A volcanic outcrop among the white sands of Rarotonga, Black Rock is not only a culturally significant site but a great place to snorkel or reef walk. The rock is said to be where Rarotonga’s spirits depart to the afterlife, which you can learn more about on the interpretation panel here. Check out more points of interest in The Top 10 Sights on Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

30. Hike to the Top of Maunga Pu

Maunga Pu is the peak of Aitutaki at a height of 124m (407ft) and can be walked up in 20-30 minutes from the sign at the base. Head up to Maunga Pu’s summit with a cellphone tower at the top and a whole lot of gorgeous island and lagoon vistas. See more places to ramble on the island in the 5 Best Walks on Aitutaki.

Location: Aitutaki. West coast between Paradise Cove and Tai Marino. Park on the abandoned lot opposite the Maunga Pu sign.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

31. Have the Ultimate Street Food Experience at the Muri Night Market

Another market to migrate to on Rarotonga is the Muri Night Market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5pm. It’s the place for cheap eats when the island’s food trucks gather together for a jumble of tastes. Check out more must-do food experiences in The Complete Food Guide to the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

32. See the Giant Clams at the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre

Take a look around the giant clam nursery of the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre and learn about the conservation work done here from the site manager, Richard (usually available from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday). What’s more, entry is only on donation – see more affordable experiences like this in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Aitutaki.

Location: Aitutaki. At the lefthand side of the old airstrip and toward the golf course.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

33. Do a Cycling Tour of Rarotonga with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours

An alternative way to tour Rarotonga is via bike with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours. Cycle past quaint villages, learn about the history along the old Ara Metua coral road, and stop for tastings of local fruit discovered along the way. Your experience will conclude with a delicious local lunch. Learn more about Storytellers on Viator and Tripadvisor and see more guided cycling experiences in the 5 Best Bike Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours

34. Set Sail on a Hobie Cat on the Aitutaki Lagoon

Another way to enjoy the Aitutaki Lagoon is sailing! Sailing Aitutaki offers private lagoon excursions on their 17ft Hobie catamaran, the most eco-friendly way to explore the turquoise waters and motu. See more eco-friendly tour options in the 10 Best Eco Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. Tours depart from Ootu Beach but transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Turama Photography - Cook Islands Tourism

35. Do a Sunrise Hike on the Arore Trek

An excellent short hike on the back hills of Muri, the Arore Trek is a private hiking trail accessible through a guided experience with Arore Mountain Adventures. Experience the natural beauty of the inland forests of Rarotonga and look out for wildlife on this hike that can be done either in the daytime or at sunrise.

Location: Rarotonga. Tours depart from the Muri Meeting House, Muri eastern side of Rarotonga. Transfers are available for a fee.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

36. Experience Kitesurfing at Honeymoon Island

The butter-flat waters of the Aitutaki Lagoon offer the perfect conditions for kitesurfing in the season between May and September. Kitesurfing specialists like Wet & Wild and South Pacific Kiteboarding can take you out to their bases on Honeymoon Island for private lessons, while water taxi and gear rental is also an option. Learn more about the hobby in The Guide to Kitesurfing in the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. Transfers are included with the operators mentioned above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Turama Photography - Cook Islands Tourism

37. Do an Inland Sightseeing Tour with Raro Safari Tours

Jump in a characterful safari Jeep and hit all types of roads in Rarotonga with Raro Safari Tours. This three-hour tour traverses the inland roads seeking out historical sites, visiting plantations and – the highlight – racing up the dirt tracks of an inland mountain. The tour also includes a stop at Papua Waterfall, a buffet lunch and lots of humour! See more fun tours like this in the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

38. Snorkel at Base One in Aitutaki

If you’re looking for the best free place to snorkel from the main island of Aitutaki, head to Base One. This is the snorkelling area located at the western end of the old runway – easy to spot with picnic tables and an eco-toilet cabin under the shade of the trees. See more snorkelling hotspots in The Top 10 Places to Snorkel in Aitutaki.

Location: Aitutaki. The western tip of the old runway.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

39. Watch Rare Birds on Birdman George’s Eco Tour

The traditional Cook Islands Maori name for Atiu is “Enuamanu“, meaning the “land of birds”. See why on an eco-adventure with Birdman George’s Eco Tour. George will point out kakerori and colourful kura that he looks after in this island sanctuary and much more on this awesome nature tour, which also features in the 10 Best Nature & Wildlife Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Atiu. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

40. Hit All of the Hottest Cocktail Spots or Do an Island Tour with Tik-e Bikes & Tours

Hop on an environmentally-friendly electric tuk-tuk and let your guide at Tik-e Bikes & Tours transport you and your mates to the hottest cocktail spots and happy hour specials around Rarotonga! Alternatively, join a sightseeing tour all around the island by tuk-tuk or e-bike. See more fun things to do especially for adult groups in the 10 Adults-Only Activities on Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

41. Discover Breathtaking Ara’oa Beach

We’ve talked a little bit about the amazing beaches of the Cook Islands but one of our favourites we have to mention separately is Ara’oa Beach on Mangaia. Stop for a paddle on the reef and get some mesmerising photos of its makatea boulders and caves. Discover more free attractions in the 20 Free Things to Do in the Cook Islands.

Location: Mangaia. On the coastal road, approximately 2.5km (1.6 miles) north of Ivirua village.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

42. Try the Local Bush Beer at a Tumunu

A true cultural experience that unofficially welcomes you into the Atiu club, tumunu are rustic beer huts located on the outskirts of Atiu’s villages. You’ll be sat on a tree stump and passed around home-brewed orange beer (or “bush beer”). Either visit a tumunu independently or join Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours for a fully guided experience. Find out more in the 6 Best Foodie Experiences on Atiu.

Location: All over Atiu! Ask your accommodation or tour guides about the nearby tumunu or transfers are included with the tour mentioned.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

43. See Wildlife, Learn About Marine History and More at the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre

Stop for an extended lunch at the cafe and ice cream parlour then peruse the museum of the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre. A must-do for nature lovers and families in Rarotonga, the centre might be small but it’s packed with all sorts of interesting displays, from seabirds and coconut crabs in rehabilitation to fascinating whaling and shipwreck artefacts. It’s also one of the 20 Things to Do in the Cook Islands on a Rainy Day.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

44. Bathe in a Sea Cave Pool at Kopu Po’oki Beach

The main highlight of Kopu Po’oki Beach on Mauke is not its sands but its hidden cave with a swimming pool! On the beach, walk down the beach/reef to your left when facing the ocean. Go around the outcrop and you’ll find a small cave, known as “Stomach Rock“, with a pool inside.

Location: Mauke. On the coastal road, take the first turnoff toward the sea after Tiare Cottages.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

45. Explore the Maire Nui Gardens

Cross the quaint footbridges and into seven acres of botanical paradise at Maire Nui Gardens. These gorgeous tropical gardens on Rarotonga provide a stunning environment between the lily ponds, intriguing plants and a backdrop of the dramatic mountain landscape.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

46. Do Crafts, Learn About Atiuan History and Feast on Umukai with Punarea Culture Tours

Joshua and the family from Punarea Culture Tours offers an excellent tour for immersing in the traditions of the Atiuan people! Their signature “Culture Tour” not only offers fascinating historical context and hands-on crafting demonstrations, but a significant portion of the tour is dedicated to traditional Atiuan cuisine. Find out more about the tour in the 5 Best Tours on Atiu.

Location: Atiu. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

47. Soothe the Senses with an Island Spa Treatment

Immerse yourself in a therapeutic massage or any other island spa treatment at one of Rarotonga or Aitutaki’s spas. A selection of resorts specialises in spa treatments, from Vichy Shower treatments to traditional Cook Islands massages. There are far too many options to list here, so take a look at the 10 Best Spas in Rarotonga and 5 Best Spas in Aitutaki to find your perfect place to unwind.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See spa locations in the links above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Pixabay

48. Check Out Avana Point, the Vaka Migration Site

Located just north of Muri on Rarotonga is the spot where the Maori set off in their canoes (vaka) to make the migration to Aotearoa New Zealand. The site has a memorial with commemorative stones set in the circle listing the names of each vaka that departed from Avana Point.

Location: Rarotonga. A gravel roadside clearing on the coastal side of the Main Road (Ara Tapu) opposite the Ngatangiia CICC Church, Ngatangiia.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

49. Snorkel at the Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve

Just in front of The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium, the Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve is a protected area. This keeps the environment much more vibrant than most of the lagoon around Rarotonga – i.e. excellent snorkelling! It’s yet another of The Top 7 Places to Snorkel on Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga. Aroa Beach, Arorangi.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

50. Do an Orientation Tour of Rarotonga

A must for first-time visitors to Rarotonga, there are a couple of tours to get you acquainted with the island, as well as discover some of the hidden gems. Join the locally owned and operated Cook Islands Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Raro Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor) for a fun and informative tour with refreshments. Check out more tours in the 10 Best Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

51. Paddle or Snorkel at the Tua’ati Rock Pools

Visit this stunning little corner of Mangaia at low tide and discover all sorts of marine life clinging onto the jagged rocks! With pockets of deep pools to snorkel in, as well as plenty to see through the crystal clear waters on the reef, Tua’ati Rock Pools is well worth exploring.

Location: Mangaia. Find the small beach between two rock walls, approximately 1.6km (1 mile) south of Babe’s Store in Oneroa.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

52. Visit a Black Pearl Farm in Manihiki

Manihiki is renowned in the Cook Islands and beyond as one of the world’s rare black pearl producers. A trip to the lagoon is not complete until you visit the tiny manmade islands containing pearl farms in its centre. Discover more experiences in the lesser-visited Northern Group in the 10 Best Things to Do in the Northern Cook Islands.

Location: Manihiki. Tours can be arranged with accommodations on Manihiki.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

53. Taste Locally Grown Coffee on Atiu

Not only is Atiu a treat for the eyes but it’s a treat for the tongue, as the island has its own coffee industry! A popular way to experience Atiu’s coffee scene is on a tour with Atiu Island Coffee. Learn about the coffee bean growing process, how to hand roast the beans and taste the good stuff along with yummy pikelets and coconut cream!

Location: Atiu. Mapumai, north of the Air Rarotonga office and south of Akai Bakery.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

54. Experience Real Island Living in the Northern Group

Visiting the remote Northern Group is experiencing a slice of life in a small community on an isolated island, which can be one of the biggest gifts these islands give you. Share your stories with the local kids by visiting a school, learn about the industries such as breadfruit and taro plantation, black pearl farming, crafting and fishing, and see how communities rely on each other to survive. For more authentic cultural experiences, check out How to Have an Authentic Cook Islander Experience.

Location: Northern Group.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

55. Watch Whales From Shore or a Boat Tour

As mentioned, the months between July and October bring the flukes of humpback whales seen offshore. While it’s possible to spot whales from any shore of any island in the Cook Islands, which we list in the 10 Best Places for Whale Watching in the Cook Islands, there are special boat tours from Rarotonga in the whale season to get you closer to the action.

Location: See the links above for locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

56. See Spooky Skeletons Inside the Rimu Rau Burial Cave

One of Atiu’s burial caves, Rimu Rau is not only the easiest burial cave to access, but the easiest to find guided tours for. Here, you’ll see well preserved skeletal remains, adding to the spooky atmosphere. Learn more about it in the 5 Best Caves on Atiu.

Location: Atiu. Guided tours can be arranged with accommodation providers or with the Atiu Information Centre (Main Road, Teenui – between Vodafone and the BCI Bank).

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

57. Experience Magnificent Singing from the Locals at Sunday Church

The powerful harmonies echoing across the churches on a Sunday is an experience not to be missed! Don your most church-appropriate attire (cover knees and shoulders) and head to one of the churches listed in the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.

Location: All over the Cook Islands. See the link above for locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

58. Do a Reef or Mountain Walk with Ariimoana

A fascinating eco-tour on Rarotonga that gets you exploring the reef safely, Ariimoana allows you to discover marine creatures that you’d otherwise miss. They are a wealth of knowledge about Rarotonga and its marine life, giving you an insight into local conservation efforts. The team also offer inland mountain walks, showing you local edible plants and fruit to try along the way.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Creators Hype - Cook Islands Tourism

59. Spot the Matai Shipwreck (or Take a Tour to Get Closer)

The British cargo ship, RMS Matai, which wrecked in the Avarua Harbour on Christmas Day, 1916 is now part of the reef. Either admire “The Boiler” poking out of the ocean from shore at Trader Jacks in Avarua or admire the wreck on Raro Reef Sub and snorkelling tours with Ariki Adventures and KiteSUP.

Location: Rarotonga. Trader Jacks, Main Road (Ara Tapu), the western end of Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

60. Have a Romantic Private Dinner on the Beach

A must for couples celebrating a special occasion or “just ’cause”, private dining experiences are a speciality of the resorts on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Dining areas are typically decorated with torches and tropical flowers, and, of course, complete with fine dining cuisine. Check out resorts that offer this experience in the 16 Most Romantic Things to Do on Rarotonga and 10 Most Romantic Things to Do on Aitutaki.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See resort locations in the links above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

61. Check Out the Historical Arai-Te-Tonga Marae

One of a few easy-to-access ancient “marae” (Maori gathering places), Arai-Te-Tonga is just off Rarotonga‘s Ara Metua (inland) road. It was one of the first “koutu” (royal courts) that was built by the first settlers in Rarotonga in 1350 AD. Check out more fascinating maraes around the Cook Islands in the 10 Best Historical Sites in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Corner of the Inland Road (Ara Metua) and Maotangi Road, Tupapa.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

62. Catch Yellowfin Tuna or Wahoo on a Fishing Charter

Head out to the blue water beyond the reefs of Rarotonga, Aitutaki or Atiu for some deep sea fishing! Experience the thrill of reeling in pelagic fish species, like mahimahi, wahoo and yellowfin tuna, on one of the many charters. Plan your fishing excursion in The Ultimate Guide to Fishing in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu. Check out departure points for charters in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in the Cook Islands.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

63. Check Out the Saragossa Shipwreck

Who doesn’t like to see spooky shipwrecks?! The shipwreck at the southern tip of Mangaia is a scattering of remains from when the Saragossa crashed in a storm in 1904 on its way from Newcastle, Australia to San Fransisco. It’s also one of the 7 Things to Do on Mangaia with Kids!

Location: Mangaia. Take the coastal road at the eastern end of Tamarua village. The road is approximately 2km (1.2 miles) to the shipwreck.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

64. Feed the Reef Sharks in Penrhyn

One of the most striking things about Penrhyn is how in touch the people are with nature. You’ll often see locals feeding and petting reef sharks that come close to shore, which you can join in too to see how friendly these typically misunderstood creatures are.

Location: Penrhyn. See The Complete Travel Guide to Penrhyn for more information.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

65. Try Your Luck at Bonefishing in Aitutaki

The Aitutaki Lagoon is not only famous for its beauty but for its bonefish. Try out the art of bonefishing for yourself with E2’s Way or Aitutaki Blue Lagoon Flyfish, both offering private fishing guidance with all the gear included. Compare fishing guides in the 5 Best Fishing Charters in Aitutaki.

Location: Aitutaki.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Nils Rinaldi - Flickr

66. Party Raro-Style at the Island’s Bars and Nightclubs (or Jump On the Party Bus)

One of the biggest Pacific party islands, Rarotonga has a fun selection of bars and nightclubs to let your hair down. Either hit the clubs in Avarua, such as RehabOne the Rocks (OTR) and Luna, or hop on one of the “party buses” like the Raro Pub Crawl or Going Troppo Nightlife Tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).

Location: See locations in The Ultimate Guide to Rarotonga Nightlife and 10 Best Bars in Rarotonga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Going Troppo Nightlife Tour

67. Bathe in the Natural Infinity Pool of Konakonako Landing

A short walk from the roadside at the northwest end of AtiuKonakonako Landing makes for a stunning photo op. When the tide is just right (aim for low tide), a small pool is created looking like your own private infinity pool! See more places like this in the 10 Best Hidden Gems in the Cook Islands.

Location: Atiu. On the roadside, approximately 750m (820 yards) west of the airstrip building.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

68. Hit the Advanced Surf Waves in Rarotonga

Not for the faint-hearted, surfing is serious stuff in the Cook Islands with the only waves being either reef or point breaks. Rarotonga is the only island with an established surf scene where you can hire surfboards and bodyboards and even guides to take you out to the most pumping spots. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in the Cook Islands for all the details.

Location: Rarotonga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Pixabay

69. Take a Scenic Flight Over Rarotonga

Air Rarotonga‘s scenic flight is 30 minutes off circling Rarotonga. The flight gives you a wonderful birds-eye perspective of inland valleys and plantations, the towering volcanic peaks of the island’s interior, as well as the encircling turquoise lagoon. Learn more about the flight in The Best Scenic Flights in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Flights depart from Rarotonga Airport.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

70. Cruise the Aitutaki Lagoon on a Private Charter

Experience Aitutaki at your pace by swapping a group lagoon cruise for a private charter. Many of the larger lagoon cruise operators also offer private charters on smaller boats, while those like Kutekute Tours & TransfersPlatinum CruisingWet & Wild and Black Pearl Charters specialise in lagoon charters. More activities like this can be found in the 10 Most Luxurious Experiences in the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. Charters depart from Ootu Beach, but transfers are typically included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

71. Do a Self-Drive Off-Roading Tour with Raro Buggy Tours…

One of two self-drive off-roading tours in the Cook Islands, Raro Buggy Tours allows you to let loose on the inland tracks of Rarotonga! The tour in a 4WD buggy (with a passenger seat if you have a “plus one”) starts with getting accustomed to the vehicle before heading inland to plantations and dirt tracks. Learn more about the experience in the 5 Best Off-Road Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Departure is from Wigmore’s Superstore, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

72. … Or Ride a Quad Bike with Raro Quad Tours

Yes, you guessed it, Raro Quad Tours is the same company as the tour mentioned above but it offers a slightly different experience. This time, you’re on a quad bike to explore the inland tracks of Rarotonga. You’ll definitely be eased into the chaos, however, with the tour starting with a slow-paced yet interesting history tour of the island before heading inland to plantations and dirt tracks including a stop at the Papua Waterfall.

Location: Rarotonga. Departure is from Wigmore’s Superstore, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

73. Get More Out of Your Snorkelling Experience with a Guided Tour or Sea Scooter Tour

Providing all the gear for an enhanced snorkelling experience, guided snorkelling tours are an alternative way to explore the depths of Rarotonga and Aitutaki. From luxury private snorkelling experiences with Snorkel Cook Islands (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) to sea scooter excursions with Ariki Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor), there’s plenty to choose from. Get started with the 10 Best Snorkelling Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

74. Do a Tour and Tasting at the Rarotonga Brewery

Brewed right here on RarotongaCook Islands Lager is the signature brew of the Rarotonga Brewery. Just across from the airport, the brewery is open Monday to Saturday for free beer tastings and from Monday to Friday for brewery tours. For more drinks to sample, check out the 10 Drinks in the Cook Islands You HAVE to Try!

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

75. Discover a Piece of Mangaian Culture on the Mangaia Golden Shells Tour

When you disembark your plane at Mangaia Airport, your hosts usually greet you with pupu eis (garlands), rather than floral eis. That’s because “pupu” or “golden shells” are part of the tradition of Mangaia, where locals collect these tiny shells and use them to create unique pieces of jewellery. Dive deeper into the tradition on the Mangaia Golden Shells Tour.

Location: Mangaia. Transfers are included.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

76. Island-Hop Between Rarotonga and the Cook Islands’ Less-Visited Islands

Explore the lesser-visited islands of the Southern Group on the “Southern Group Adventure Package” or the Northern Group on the “Trailblazers of the Northern Atolls” with Island Hopper Vacations. Departing from Rarotonga, these trips to the harder-to-reach islands include round-trip flights, all accommodation, all meals, a tour guide and more. Find out more about these exclusive trips in the 10 Best Island-Hopping Tours in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. Tours depart from Rarotonga Airport and include all transfers.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Claire Wilson - Cook Islands Tourism

77. Have a Picnic by Lake Tiriara

Mangaia’s only lake is a worthwhile stop while exploring the island. The peaceful Lake Tiriara sits among swampland and reeds, backed with high makatea and a cave mouth that leads underwater all the way to the coast! There’s a sheltered picnic area so you can dine with a view.

Location: Mangaia, along the inland road between Tamarua and Oneroa, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Tamarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

78. Have a Go at Spearfishing

A more traditional type of fishing in the Cook Islands, spearfishing adds a whole new slice of freediving adventure to catching dinner. There are plenty of charters on Rarotonga and Aitutaki that are happy to take you out to the best spots. Learn more about it in The Complete Guide to Spearfishing in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See the link above for which charters offer spearfishing.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Turama Photography - Cook Islands Tourism

79. Try Traditional Food Like Ika Mata, Poke, Rukau and More

While the Cook Islands offers all sorts of international cuisine, it’s worth sampling some of the traditional dishes, from the raw marinated fish dish of “ika mata” found on every restaurant menu to the yummy sweetness of “poke” often served at island nights or for dessert at your outer island accommodation. See more treats to try in the 10 Foods to Try in the Cook Islands.

Location: All over the Cook Islands.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

80. Get Competetive at Aumata Mini Golf

For something for all the family, Aumata Mini Golf on Rarotonga offers 18 holes of fun under the shade of the mango trees, as well as a cafe where pizzas are their speciality. It’s just one of the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.

Location: Rarotonga. Inave Road, Arorangi.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

81. Browse the Cook Islands National Museum…

Rarotonga has no lack of museums, with the Cooks Island National Museum offering a quaint yet interesting option in Avarua. Browse carved artefacts, seafaring vaka replicas and traditional tivaevae linen and learn more about their cultural and historical significance.

Location: Rarotonga. Sir Geoffrey Henry National Culture Centre, Corner of Constitution Avenue and Victoria Road, Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

82. … And the Cook Islands Library & Museum

Yes, this is a different museum in Avarua but it’s not too far away from the one previously mentioned. Set on park grounds surrounded by some of Avarua’s oldest buildings, the Cook Islands Library & Museum displays interesting ceremonial artefacts, cooking utensils, shells and weapons. Outside are the museum’s maritime displays such as vaka and anchors.

Location: Rarotonga. Makea Tinirau Road, the eastern end of Avarua.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

83. Drive or Walk Through the Makatea “Cuttings” of Mangaia

That’s right, those taking a roadie around Mangaia can go caving in their car or scooter (kind of). There are some spectacular sections of road that cut deep into the makatea, leaving towering coral walls on either side of the narrow road. We also detail how to find the most picturesque “cutting” on foot in the 5 Best Walks on Mangaia.

Location: Mangaia, but see the link above for the location of the best cutting.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

84. Check Out the Views From Aitutaki’s Piraki Lookout

While there are quite a few lookouts across Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Mangaia, none are easier to get to than the Piraki Lookout on Aitutaki. You can drive to the lookout for amazing views across Aitutaki, its lagoon and surrounding motu.

Location: Aitutaki. From the west side, turn inland between the Heineken Store and the Aquila Petrol Station then turn left at the crossroads.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

85. Walk Along the Reef to The Three Grottos of Atiu

At low tide, wade through crystal clear waters and get an interesting perspective of Atiu on a reef walk to The Three GrottosOneroa Beach provides the best access to The Three Grottos when you don’t have a guide. Walk along the reef in knee-deep water on a calm day to three caves opening up to the sea just 200m (219 yards) apart. See the 10 Free Things to Do on Atiu for more details about the walk.

Location: Atiu. Oneroa Beach. Walk north from Oneroa Beach to reach The Three Grottos.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

86. Stop By the Pa Ariki’s Takitumu Palace Museum

Dive into the culture of the Cook Islands’ royal heritage at Pa Ariki’s Takitumu Palace Museum, the only palace on Rarotonga that is open to the public! The palace is that of the 48th Queen Pa Ariki whose line began in 1250 AD. Explore the museum with its various artefacts on display and trace back the history of the Cook Islands’ “ariki”.

Location: Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avana.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

87. Take a Tour of “The Divided Church”

One of the most interesting cultural aspects of Mauke is the Ziona CICC Church, also known as “The Divided Church“. Built in 1882, the church was built with architecture to satisfy the conflicting wishes of the two villages that share it. The villages made a compromise of having two different types of architecture on the interior with interesting results! Ask your Mauke accommodation provider to arrange a tour of the church.

Location: Mauke, between Ngatiarua and Areora villages.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

88. Inspire Yourself at the Art Galleries on Rarotonga

The Cooks Island Maori culture and marine environment are the main inspiration for art across Rarotonga. This makes for some breathtaking pieces to admire at the galleries of the island’s talented artists. See what makes each gallery worth visiting in the 5 Best Art Galleries in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. See the link above for art gallery locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

89. Tee Off at Rarotonga or Aitutaki’s Golf Course

Putt in tropical paradise at the casual Rarotonga Golf Club or Aitutaki Golf Club. They both offer a non-pretentious yet challenging 9-hole course among the coconut palms. Find out more about making the most of the Cook Islands’ golf scene in The Complete Guide to Golf in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga Golf Club – Tipani Road, Nikao. Aitutaki Golf Club – Above the airport, Aitutaki.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

90. Check Out the Views from Hospital Hill

One of the easiest hikes on Rarotonga with a view is the Hospital Hill Track. The 2km (1.2-mile), 30-40mins return walk starts from the Rarotonga Hospital car park and steadily ventures up an easy-to-follow dirt road through the forest to a viewpoint overlooking Nikao Beach, the lagoon and the airport.

Location: Rarotonga. Top of Hospital Hill Road, Nikao. The dirt track can be found behind the hospital buildings.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

91. Indulge in a Gourmet Island Platter on Rarotonga… Anywhere!

Get a gourmet platter delivered to you, whether you want an extra special breakfast on your villa’s deck or a romantic picnic on the beach. Island Platters can curate a stunningly presented and tasty platter right in front of you using fresh local ingredients. For more “treat yourself” endeavours, check out the 8 Best Luxury Experiences on Rarotonga.

Location: Rarotonga – platters are delivered to you.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

92. Do Some Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is another popular way to explore the Cook Islands’ lagoons. Not only do many accommodations in Rarotonga and Aitutaki hire them out for free to guests, but Rarotonga has some excellent SUP lagoon, yoga and night tours. Learn more about getting on the water on a paddleboard in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours and more about yoga sessions in the 5 Best Places to Experience Yoga in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© DK - Cook Islands Tourism

93. Boost Your Zen with a Yoga Session or Retreat

Speaking of yoga, Rarotonga and Aitutaki certainly set an endearing scene for wellness and yoga retreats. That’s why you’ll find several yoga classes and retreats taking place between the two islands several times a year. Learn all about the Cook Islands’ retreats in The Guide to Retreats in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See retreat locations in the link above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Alisha Street - Cook Islands Tourism

94. Hit the Islands’ Best Sunrise and Sunset Spots

Some of life’s simple pleasures, like watching the sunrise and sunset, are worth enjoying in the Cook Islands. Head to one of the stunning east coast beaches listed in the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise or even watch the sunset from a height on one of the short mountain climbs listed in the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunset.

Location: All over the Cook Islands! You know the deal; check out those links above for locations!

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Pixabay

95. Treat the Tastebuds at Rarotonga and Aitutaki’s Cafes, Food Trucks and Restaurants

You can’t visit Rarotonga or Aitutaki and not sample the surprisingly vibrant dining scene. Whatever your vibe and whatever your budget, Raro has the cafes, food trucks and fine dining restaurants to suit, while Aitutaki has a smaller but no less impressive selection of eateries. The list is too extensive to go through here, but you can check out recommendations in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See the links above for locations.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

96. Enjoy Stargazing From the South Pacific’s Dark Skies

When night falls and the sky is clear, the universe puts on the most mesmerising show made all the clearer thanks to the Cook Islands’ limited light pollution. Head out on the beach or simply look up from your accommodation on a clear night and enjoy the show. See The Best Spots for Stargazing in the Cook Islands for specific stargazing locations.

Location: All over the Cook Islands (but is better when you leave Rarotonga).

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Zhang Da Qiang - Cook Islands Tourism

97. Go Shopping for Unique Cook Islands Souvenirs

Many are surprised to find that such a tiny island in the South Pacific offers so many shopping opportunities. That’s mainly because Rarotonga and the Cook Islands specialise in many unique crafts. Black pearls, woven fans and earrings and locally-crafted perfumes are some of the highlights on the shopping list. So pick out some stores from The Guide to Shopping in the Cook Islands and visit them all!

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See shop recommendations and locations in the link above.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

98. Enjoy Some Reef Walks

On the makatea islands of MangaiaAtiuMitiaro and Mauke, the reef is so close to shore (in fact, there is no lagoon) that reef walking is a possible and fun free thing to do. At low tide, walk in knee-deep crystal clear water and look at all kinds of fish and crayfish clinging to the jagged makatea. We list some excellent reef walks in the 10 Free Things to Do on Atiu and 15 Best Things to Do on Mitiaro.

Location: Mangaia, Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

99. Hit the Cook Islands’ Biggest Events

The Cook Islands has a lively annual event calendar allowing you to experience the vibrant Cook Islands culture. See parades and floral and fauna decorated buildings in the Te Mire Tiare Flower Festival, watch outrigger canoe racing at the Vaka Eiva Festival, see the “round the island dance” of Aitutaki’s Koni Raoni at New Year and Christmas, and much more! Check out the 10 Biggest Festivals in the Cook Islands for ideas.

Location: All over the Cook Islands.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

100. Have a Splash in the Pool!

As we come toward the end of our 101 things to do in the Cook Islands, we’ll wind down with one of the simple ways to unwind. Relax by the pool, whether it’s the infinity pool of an adults-only resort or a pool for kids to splash around in. You’ll struggle to find accommodation on Rarotonga that doesn’t have a pool while a few accommodations with swimming pools can also be found in Aitutaki.

Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Take a look at The Top 50 Resorts in the Cook Islands for plenty of resorts with pools.

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

101. When in Doubt, Take a Tiki Tour Around the Islands by Scooter

The most famous way to travel around the Cook Islands is by scooter! As you have seen from this 101 things to do in the Cook Islands, the islands all have all sorts of attractions and hidden gems to discover along the way. Check out sights to stop at in A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga, A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Aitutaki, A Trip Around Atiu, A Trip Around Mangaia, Mauke or Mitiaro.

Location: All over the Cook Islands!

101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

More About the Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands

Wow, you made it this far! Good job, you! Now all you need is a way to tie, not all, but many of these best things to do in the Cook Islands together. These itineraries of the Cook Islands should help:

Finally, if there’s anything you’re missing from your Cook Islands holiday plan then you’re likely to find it in The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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