10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com
10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️

© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

The Most Breathtaking Beaches in the Cook Islands

Sink your toes into the powdery sands and lap up the view of turquoise waters blanketing sand and reef. This is what most travellers come to the Cook Islands for, to which there is no lack of beautiful beaches. And it’s not just the shores of the popular Rarotonga and Aitutaki that entices beach bums, as the outer islands are home to some of the most stunning and secluded beaches in the Cook Islands (and dare we say, the world?)

So, find your piece of paradise with this list of the best beaches in the Cook Islands…

Cook Islands Beach Checklist:

  • Reef-friendly sunscreen
  • Snorkelling mask and fins
  • Reef shoes (particularly for the outer islands)
  • Plenty of drinking water
  • An awareness of where the dangerous passages in the lagoon are, so you can avoid them when swimming (they are usually pointed out on tourist maps).

While we’re on the subject, don’t forget to check out our Cook Islands Packing List.

1. Honeymoon Island – Aitutaki

A hotspot for kiteboarding in the season and one of the better-known lagoon “motu” (islets) in Aitutaki, Honeymoon Island offers an incredible sandy beach and shallow surrounding waters. Keep an eye out for turtles and enjoy amazing snorkelling spots among coral just beyond the bank, as outlined in The Best Snorkelling in Aitutaki: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.

Location: Aitutaki. See the 10 Best Beaches on Aitutaki for the location and how to get there.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Alisha Street - Cook Islands Tourism

2. Aroa Beach (Aro’a Beach) – Rarotonga

This beach has it all: sunsets, long stretches of white sand and spectacular snorkelling. Located on the western side of Rarotonga, Aroa Beach (or Aro’a Beach) gets the most sun throughout the day and typically has calm and clear waters. The Aroa Marine Reserve in front of The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium is the best place to snorkel – where you can look but don’t touch the marine life. Learn more about the snorkelling here and where you can hire gear in The Best Snorkelling in Rarotonga: Top 7 Places to Snorkel.

Location: Rarotonga. Learn more about the location and other fabulous beaches in the 10 Best Beaches on Rarotonga.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

3. Muri Beach – Rarotonga

By far the most popular beach in the Cook Islands, Muri Beach is a hub of resorts, villas and watersports on Rarotonga. With lagoon cruises, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkelling and kayaking, there’s never a dull moment here, while the restaurants and cafes lining the sands make it easy to replenish. Wake up early to catch an awesome sunrise or admire the four motu at any time of day. See more stellar sunrise spots in the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga. See the specific location in the 10 Best Beaches on Rarotonga.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

4. Ootu Beach – Aitutaki

One of the best beaches on mainland Aitutaki, Ootu Beach is an extremely accessible beach with lots to visit for. Relax on the loungers lining the coconut palm-fringed beach and swim in the shallow lagoon waters where you can reach a sandbank jutting from Motu Akitua (the island of the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort). There’s good snorkelling around the wharf here, while there are also plenty of spots to grab a cocktail or a bite to eat. See the 5 Best Bars in Aitutaki and 9 Best Cafes & Takeaways on Aitutaki for recommendations.

Location: Aitutaki. See the 10 Best Beaches on Aitutaki for the location.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

5. One Foot Island (Tapuaetai) – Aitutaki

Easily the most famous island on the Aitutaki LagoonOne Foot Island â€“ its Moari name Tapuaetai â€“ is not only a popular stop for lagoon cruises but is home to a stunning beach surrounding the island. Many cruises stop here for a barbecue lunch, leaving you plenty of time to beachcomb. See more sights like this in The 10 Most Famous Places in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Aitutaki. See the 10 Best Beaches on Aitutaki for the location and how to get there.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Alisha Street - Cook Islands Tourism

6. Ara’oa Beach – Mangaia

Heading to the outer islands now, Mangaia hides many tranquil stretches of sand, most of which slope into the reef and are backed with dramatic “makatea” (coral limestone). One of the most picturesque beaches is Ara’oa Beach at the northern tip of the island. Stop for a paddle on the reef and get some mesmerising photos of its makatea boulders and caves.

Location: Mangaia. Check out the location listed in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mangaia.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

7. Akapa Beach – Mitiaro

This long white-sand beach on the lesser-visited island of Mitiaro is a great place to stretch your legs, take a picnic and explore the reef at low tide. There is a coral cove in the reef just in front of the track that brings you onto Akapa Beach, if you want to try your chances at snorkelling – or simply admire the view of the fish through the crystal-clear water.

Location: Mitiaro. Learn more about Mitiaro’s beaches and their locations in the 8 Best Beaches on Mitiaro.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Cook Islands Tourism

8. Anaoke Beach – Mauke

One of the many tiny beaches nestled between makatea on the south coast of Mauke, Anaoke Beach offers an incredible photo opportunity and absolute seclusion. Be careful if you decide to explore the reef, as the south coast tends to get the biggest waves crashing over the reef.

Location: Mauke. Discover its location and more beaches in the 7 Best Beaches on Mauke.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

9. Taungaroro Beach – Atiu

Atiu’s most popular beach, Taungaroro is a small picturesque beach backed with cliffs and slopes steeply into the reef. There are swimming holes to find in the reef, while the covered picnic area here offers a welcome respite from the sun.

Location: Atiu. Check out the location in the 7 Best Beaches on Atiu.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

10. Moananui Beach – Penrhyn

Ok, so this beach is in Penrhyn, which is one of the far-flung Northern Group islands that only a lucky few get to explore. Nevertheless, it’s still worth mentioning because if you want a true “Robinson Crusoe” experience with deserted unspoiled beaches and no one for miles and miles, any one of the spectacular beaches in the Northern Cook Islands would suit. The beach pictured here is the beach just outside of the guesthouse accommodation on Moananui island in Penrhyn.

Location: Penrhyn. Check out how to plan a trip to the Northern Group and its beaches in The Complete Travel Guide to the Northern Cook Islands.

10 Best Beaches in the Cook Islands 🏖️© Tayla Beddoes - Cook Islands Tourism

More Beach-Related Goodness in the Cook Islands

That’s it for our complete list of the best beaches in the Cook Islands! Want to discover more stunning natural attractions? Try these:

Finally, find more items for the bucket list in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.

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 the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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