Where to Find Guesthouse Accommodation in the Cook Islands
Having a reputation for affordability and a locals’ experience, guesthouses are ideal for visitors who’d rather be a “traveller” than a “tourist”. That’s why you’ll find that the much less-visited islands of the Cook Islands are the only places where you’ll find true guesthouses. Staying with locals is the only way to experience many of the outer atolls of the Cook Islands, which don’t have a large tourism industry along with an endless list of resorts. So plan your authentic Cook Islands stay starting right here with this list of the best guesthouses in the Cook Islands.
1. Aremango Guesthouse & Cottage
We’re starting with one of the limited (if not the only) true guesthouses on Rarotonga, Aremango Guesthouse & Cottage in Muri. This guesthouse offers an affordable stay for solo travellers, couples or a couple of friends travelling together. Stay in the homely guesthouse with simple yet well-kept rooms and a shared kitchen, bathroom, lounge and a spacious backyard with loungers and hammocks to soak up the sun. There’s also a cottage and holiday home should you want your own space.
Check Aremango Guesthouse & Cottage out:
2. Divine Retreat
The most modern guesthouse and one of the best accommodations on the island of Mitiaro, Divine Retreat is run by friendly hosts, Junior and Cindy, who look after you with a daily tropical breakfast each morning. Like on many of the “pa enua” outer islands, they can also arrange meals and a vehicle rental for you. The grocery store is nearby, ideal for making use of the communal kitchen. Other communal areas include an inside lounge, a spacious deck and a communal bathroom. As for rooms, you have one ensuite bedroom, two bedrooms with a double bed and a shared bathroom, as well as three queen-sized beds on the deck with curtains for privacy (yes, you can sleep outside)!
See how Divine Retreat compares to the other Mitiaro stays in our guide, Where to Stay on Mitiaro: The 4 Best Mitiaro Accommodations.
3. Aitutaki Budget Accommodation
One of the limited budget guesthouses on Aitutaki, Aitutaki Budget Accommodation is ideal for the solo traveller or couple looking to save some cents and/or get a more local experience on one of the Cook Islands’ more popular destinations. While it doesn’t win any style points, the affordable accommodation is welcoming, spacious and super functional. The location is also conveniently near small stores and on the main road heading toward town. Compare this stay with others in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Aitutaki.
Check Aitutaki Budget Accommodation out:
4. Nukuroa Guesthouse
Another spectacular guesthouse on Mitiaro, Nukuroa Guesthouse offers affordable accommodation owned by the charming “Queen of Mitiaro”, Mii O’Brian, the oldest royal currently reigning in the Cook Islands. Her welcoming family run the operation on her behalf, consisting of a two-bedroom guesthouse all sharing a bathroom and an open-plan lounge and kitchen. There is also a separate two-bedroom holiday house in the garden, ideal for families to rent out as a holiday home. Your stay includes airport transfers, all meals and help with arranging transport.
5. Nane’s Homestay
One of the longest-running guesthouses on Mitiaro, Nane’s Homestay offers an irresistibly affordable rate with three meals a day included! The homestay is with Nane Pokoati, a local “mataiapo” (subtribe leader) whose infectious bubbly personality and local know-how will ensure a fun stay on the island. There are no private rooms at Nane’s; just one shared communal bedroom in the large house. Guests will also share a bathroom, lounge and kitchen.
Learn more about all of the Cook Island’s homestays (hint: they’re mostly on Mitiaro) in The Best Homestays in the Cook Islands.
6. Babe’s Place
Moving onto the island of Mangaia now, enjoy the homely atmosphere and experience the warm hospitality of the budget-friendly Babe’s Place. There are rooms with one or two double beds per room, which are basic but well-kept with colourful bedsheets, mosquito nets and a private patio area with outdoor furniture. The rest of the facilities are communal, including a spacious lounge and kitchen where your three meals a day (included in the price) are served. If you need to prepare anything in between, the kitchen is open 24/7.
See more stays available on Mangaia in Where to Stay on Mangaia: The Best Mangaia Accommodations.
7. Pukapuka Guesthouse
There is one guesthouse on the island of Wale in Pukapuka that is set aside for visitors. It sits in the village of Ngake close to a lagoon-facing beach. The guesthouse is, understandably, basic in its facilities but comfortable enough. Each of the four guest rooms has twin single beds, sleeping up to eight people in total. Guests share communal areas, such as a bathroom with cold water, a lounge and a kitchen. While you will have access to electricity, note that there is no WiFi.
8. Penrhyn Guesthouse
The guesthouse where most visitors to Penrhyn stay has two double rooms, sleeping a maximum of four people, all sharing a bathroom, lounge and a kitchen. You won’t need to worry too much about using the kitchen facilities, however, as three meals a day are included in your stay. Food is local dishes prepared with local ingredients. Your hosts will look after every aspect of your stay on Penrhyn; they can organise vehicle rentals to explore Moananui and its village, Omoka, as well as boat trips on the lagoon. Oh, and the location right on the edge of the remote lagoon is pretty darn nice.
9. Muri Hillside Guesthouses
Don’t be fooled by the name, you’ll have your own separate bungalow/studio at the Muri Hillside Guesthouses – one of the rare guesthouses on Rarotonga that feature on this list! (Mainly because there aren’t any guesthouses). The “Deluxe Studio” is an irresistibly affordable stay for couples, elevated on the hillside with self-catering facilities and a deck dining area. Families will find a cheap stay in “The Bungalow” or “The Cottage” with cots, buggies and toys available to hire. There’s also a central swimming pool and trampoline.
Check out more affordable accommodation, as well as accommodation similar to guesthouses such as backpackers, in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Rarotonga.
10. Amuri Guesthouse
Finally, when it’s open, Amuri Guesthouse is another excellent guesthouse on Aitutaki. There are single, double and triple occupancy rooms sharing a well-equipped communal kitchen and bathroom. It’s a little inland, so you’ll often share the grounds with roosters and pigs, but it’s just a three-minute walk to the beach, local takeaways and grocery stores. Call ahead, as the owner is sometimes out of the country.
More About Guesthouses in the Cook Islands
That’s it for our top selection of guesthouses in the Cook Islands, including on the islands of Mangaia, Mitiaro, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Here are a few more articles to help out with your stay in guesthouse accommodation in the Cook Islands:
- A Traveller’s Guide to the Cook Islands Culture
- Is the Water Safe to Drink in the Cook Islands?
- Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands
Finally, plan the rest of the logistics for visiting the outer islands using The Complete Travel Guide to the Southern Cook Islands and The Complete Travel Guide to the Northern Cook Islands.