The Top Bars, Nightclubs and “Tumunu” in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands isn’t just an idyllic holiday destination to sip on cocktails. Drinking is a part of the Cook Islander culture with “bush beer bars” found on the outer islands while the main island of the Cooks, Rarotonga, has a vibrant nightlife complete with “party buses”. Check out the most relaxing beach bars, iconic watering holes and places to let your hair down and boogie in the early hours with this list of the best bars in the Cook Islands!
1. Shipwreck Hut (Aro’a Beachside Inn)
With a prominent nautical theme and seating on the soft sands of Aroa Beach, Shipwreck Hut is one of Rarotonga’s feel-good beach bars. Enjoy the sunset as you sip on jam-jar cocktails and refreshing beers. The bar is open daily from 5pm with live music on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Check out this bar and others listed in the 10 Best Bars on Rarotonga.
Location: Aro’a Beachside Inn, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Aroa Beach, Rarotonga.
2. The Boat Shed Bar & Grill
At the end of the Ootu Peninsula in Aitutaki, The Boat Shed Bar & Grill is not only a popular local hangout but perfect for visitors too. There’s a choice of indoor and outdoor seating, with the interiors adorning sporting and maritime memorabilia from all over the world. As for drinks, choose from a wide selection of cocktails, as well as beers, wines and spirits. Pop in on a Saturday for karaoke night after the sun goes down. They are also open on a Sunday. See other bars nearby in the 5 Best Bars in Aitutaki.
Location: Ootu Peninsula, go straight once you reach the southern end of the Ootu Peninsula Road toward Popoara Ocean Breeze Villas, Aitutaki.
3. An Atiu “Tumunu”
A true cultural experience on the island of Atiu, tumunu are rustic beer huts located on the outskirts of Atiu’s villages, usually on the edge of a forest or plantation. You’ll be sat on a tree stump and passed around home-brewed orange beer (or “bush beer”). Some sessions are even accompanied by music played by a local string band. Either visit a tumunu independently (locations and opening hours are listed in The Food Guide to Atiu: Places to Eat & Food Tours) or join Timau from Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours for a fully guided experience with transfers and history storytelling included. Oh, and be warned, the tumunu bush beer is strong stuff!
Location: All over Atiu! Ask your accommodation or tour guides about the nearby tumunu or transfers are included with Timau. Some popular ones are Tepooni Tumunu, Aretou Tumunu and Vanilla Tumunu – see the link above for locations.
4. Wilson’s Beach Bar (Castaway Resort)
The only beach bar in the Cook Islands where the bar itself is literally on the sand, Wilson’s Beach Bar on Rarotonga is a must-do for at least one of your nights in the Cook Islands. Along with your vibrant cocktails, local and international beer and more, sample some bar snacks like Japanese barbecue skewers and a menu of Cuban cigars! Opening hours are daily from 12pm. Happy hour is 3pm to 6pm. Check out more happy hours listed in The Ultimate Guide to Rarotonga Nightlife + Happy Hour List.
Location: Castaway Resort, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi, Rarotonga.
Moving onto the nightclub scene now, Rehab is the place to end a night out on Rarotonga. Dance the rest of the night away with DJHab, drinks and good vibes. The best way to experience Raro’s most famous nightclub is on the “Raro Pub Crawl“. Also known as the Rehab Party Bus, this is where Rehab’s club-on-wheels hits the road on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. You’ll stop by a few bars around the island before concluding at Rehab.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avarua (across the road from the Empire Cinema and on the waterfront), Rarotonga.
6. Trader Jacks
Trader Jacks has been the island’s main watering hole and social meeting place since 1986 and is on everyone’s lips when you mention Rarotonga. Join the regulars and other travellers at the bar area on the lower level where the “Pizza Shack” is nearby to tempt you. Sit on the barstools outside and you’ll enjoy views of the Matai Shipwreck. Check out what it’s like to eat there in The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), eastern end of Avarua, Rarotonga.
7. Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro
Cheap drinks and cheap eats can be enjoyed at Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro. A beach bar on Nikao Beach that’s also popular with the locals, Vaiana’s offers a casual family-friendly atmosphere. They are open from 11am, Monday to Saturday, and happy hour is at 4pm. Check out their food offerings in The Top Cheap Eats on Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao, Rarotonga.
8. RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie
For a relaxed bar atmosphere on Muri Beach, choose RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie, a.k.a. the Rarotonga Sailing Club. Enjoy a refreshing array of beverages on the elevated deck overlooking the lagoon or on the sands, where it’s fun to people watch and hang out with friends and family. The bar usually has a live string band on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. Happy hour is from 4pm to 6pm.
Location: Muri Beach, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri, Rarotonga.
9. Trio’s Garden Bar
Most flock to Trio’s Garden Bar for karaoke Thursday and Saturday nights, but the live bands on Monday and Friday are another good reason to kick back at this vibrant bar. They have pool tables, all the expected drinks, and happy hour is from 5pm to 7pm. Opening hours are from Monday to Saturday 11am until late.
Location: Banana Court, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avarua, Rarotonga.
10. Pati’s Bar
Finally on this list of the best bars in the Cook Islands, this will quite possibly be the remotest bar you’ve ever been to! It will also be the most informal one as Pati’s Bar is, in fact, just a local’s outdoor lounge area where the family pours punters a strong brew of “banana beer” on Friday evenings. Find the bar on the island of Mitiaro at Vivian’s Homestay. And that, surprisingly, isn’t the only bar on the island. Check out the Information, Shops & Services on Mitiaro for more details.
Location: Vivian’s Homestay, Atai village, Mitiaro.
More About Bars in the Cook Islands
That’s it for our top picks of bars in the Cook Islands. For more places to wet your whistle, check out the following:
- The Ultimate Guide to the Cook Islands Nightlife
- 10 Drinks in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands You HAVE to Try!
- The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & Best Resorts for Food
Finally, plan more epic activities (other than drinking) in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.