Where to Watch the Sunset in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
Nothing beats a striking sunset across the Pacific Ocean, whether it’s dappled with dramatic cloud formations or alive with vibrant hues. The Cook Islands offers some stellar locations to watch the sunset, from the mountains of Rarotonga to the sublime beaches of Aitutaki and beyond. We go over the top Cook Islands sunset spots in this list, including places to watch the sunset in the outer islands.
1. Black Rock, Arorangi
Nothing makes this culturally significant site – the place where it is believed that the spirits of Rarotonga depart to the afterlife – more beautiful than at sunset. Located on the northeastern shores of Rarotonga, Black Rock offers a striking volcanic outcrop jutting from the beach, making for a stunning silhouette at sunset. Learn more about the site in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao, northwest side of Rarotonga.
2. Raemaru Track, Arorangi
An awesome hiking trail on the western side of Rarotonga, the Raemaru Track offers some sensational sunset views from its summit. The trail needs to be well-timed to catch the sunset, however. It’s best to set off a bit earlier than you’ll think it will take you to hike the uphill trail, just to be on the safe side. Take a torch to light up the path on the way down (and lots of insect repellent). Learn more about the walk in the 10 Best Walks in Rarotonga.
Location: Off Raemaru Heights, Arorangi, west side of Rarotonga.
3. A Beach Bar in Arorangi
Arorangi – if you hadn’t guessed by now, the west side of Rarotonga – has a few beach bars that make for wonderful places to watch the sunset while you sip on a tropical cocktail. We recommend Wilson’s Bar & Restaurant, the Shipwreck Hut and The Waterline Restaurant. Learn more about them in The Ultimate Guide to the Cook Islands Nightlife.
4. Maunga Pu, Aitutaki
On the main island of Aitutaki, take the short but rewarding climb to the top of Maunga Pu for amazing views of the sunset, as well as the motu (islets) of the Aitutaki Lagoon. Details of the hike can be found in the 5 Best Walks on Aitutaki.
Location: West coast of Aitutaki between Paradise Cove and Tai Marino. Park on the abandoned lot opposite the Maunga Pu sign or at the crossroads up the trail where the tar-sealed road meets the grassy road.
5. The Sunset Coast, Aitutaki
The stretch of coast between the accommodations of Aitutaki Escape and the Pacific Resort Aitutaki offers some of the best sunsets in Aitutaki from the beaches. Either book yourself a stay at one of these accommodations – listed in the 10 Best Resorts on Aitutaki – or pop in for dinner at the Pacific Coast Aitutaki or Tamanu Beach Resort to watch the sunset with food.
Location: West coast of the main island of Aitutaki.
6. A Sunset Cruise, Aitutaki or Rarotonga
While the offering isn’t huge for sunset cruises in the Cook Islands, having the opportunity to jump onto one of the few cruises available is a trip of a lifetime. Aitutaki has the best sunset cruises, with Kutekute Tours & Transfers taking you on a 4-hour private expedition of the Aitutaki Lagoon ending with an indulgent island platter on an uninhabited island at sunset, while Teking Lagoon Tours offers an awesome Champagne sunset cruise to Honeymoon Island. Learn more about them in The Best Sunset Cruises in the Cook Islands.
Location: See the link above for locations.
7. Avarua Landing, Mangaia
Avarua Landing is a pretty happening place on the island of Mangaia. While a hotspot for fishermen in the morning, the harbour is one of the best places on Mangaia to watch the sunset. If you’re here between July and October, you often see humpback whales just beyond the reef – see the 10 Best Places for Whale Watching in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to learn more.
Location: On the coastal road between Orongo and Managaia Villas, west side of Mangaia.
8. Kovea Beach, Mitiaro
Practically the beachfront of Mitiaro‘s main village, Mangarei, Kovea is a long stretch of white sand north of Omutu Landing. The reef walking here is spectacular, as is, of course, the sunset! Learn more about the island in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mitiaro.
Location: Stretching north on the coast of Mangarei village, west coast of Mitiaro.
9. Te Oneroa Beach, Mauke
The longest beach on Mauke, Oneroa Beach can be found on the southwestern side of the island. This long stretch of sand has many rock formations to explore, as well as a beach garden with a thatched shelter just behind the beach. What’s more, it’s the perfect place on the island to watch the sunset. Discover more experiences on the island listed in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mauke.
Location: Easy to find just off the coast road, southwest side of Mauke.
10. Taungaroro Beach, Atiu
The most popular beach on the island of Atiu, Taungaroro is a small picturesque beach backed with cliffs and slopes steeply into the reef. Head there for sunset for an incredible show. See more awesome beaches on the west coast of Atiu listed in the 7 Best Beaches on Atiu.
Location: West side of Atiu, signposted off the western coastal road, 1.5km (0.9 miles) south of Oravaru Beach, Atiu.
More About the Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
That’s it for our top recommendations for places to watch the sunset in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. For more picturesque sights, why not check out our other top 10 lists?
- Sightseeing in the Cook Islands: Top 10 Sights in the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- Where to Take Pictures in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: 10 Best Photography Spots
Finally, add more to the bucket list from our ultimate list, 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands.