50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]
50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]

© David Kirkland – Cook Islands Tourism

The Top Activities and Must-Dos on Rarotonga

That’s right, this island of only 67km² (26 miles²) certainly does have a whopping 50 things to do and more! Rarotonga might be compact, but that is what makes it an effortless tropical destination. Everything is at your fingertips, whether you’re here for the incredible watersports, cultural immersion or simply to relax and rejuvenate. The island’s tourism scene certainly gives you the scope for a varied and unforgettable escape, so start making your Raro bucket list with this list of the 50 best things to do on Rarotonga!

Need a place to stay? Check out Where to Stay on Rarotonga: The Best Rarotonga Accommodations and get more essential tips from The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga.

1. Hit the Snorkelling Hotspots Straight from the Beach

All you have to do is sit on the sands on the edge of Rarotonga’s encircling lagoon to watch tropical fish and spot blue starfish – it’s like your own personal aquarium. But if you have snorkelling gear (or rent some) then go and join them! Rarotonga has no lack of snorkelling spots straight off the beach, from the lively Aroa Marine Reserve to the famous “Fruits of Rarotonga” site. Find out more about the snorkelling hotspots in The Best Snorkelling in Rarotonga: Top 10 Places to Snorkel or compare tours with sea scooters and more in the 6 Best Snorkelling Tours in Rarotonga.

Location: See the above links for snorkelling locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

2. Venture Through Tropical Jungle and Up Volcanic Peaks on Rarotonga’s Hiking Trails

Like snorkelling spots, Rarotonga also blesses travellers with oodles of free hiking trails, this time to explore the island’s rugged interior. Walk the verdant jungle trails and up volcanic mountain peaks, from the half-day excursion of the Cross Island Trek to the perfect sunset views from the Raemaru Track. There are far too many trails to list here, so compare your options in the 10 Best Walks on Rarotonga.

Location: See the link above for all walk locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

3. Experience a Rarotonga “Island Night”

A part of the Cook Islands culture that has survived through the ages is the energetic dancing of the island’s warriors and princesses. Watch talented dancers adorned in traditional costumes at one of the island’s cultural shows, otherwise 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. Rarotonga’s cultural shows can be found across various resorts, as well as at the historical site of Highland Paradise or the overwater venue of Te Vara Nui Village (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). See the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to compare your options.

Location: See the link above for locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

4. Have a Close Encounter with Raro’s Beautiful Marine Life on a Turtle Swimming Tour

Guarantee a sighting of gorgeous sea turtles in their natural environment on one of Rarotonga’s turtle swimming tours. Guided tours will take you out to prime turtle habitat that is otherwise dangerous to go on your own. There are plenty of turtle tours to choose from like Ariki Adventures (more info on Viator and Tripadvisorwith their sea scooters to Go Local Tours providing as much time in the water as you choose. To concentrate more on photos, join Charlotte Piho Photography Experiences (on Viator and Tripadvisor). There are several options for turtle swimming across Raro, so be sure to compare using the 10 Best Turtle Swimming Tours in Rarotonga.

Location: See the link above for operator locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Charlotte Piho - CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

5. Join the Locals for a Progressive Dinner Tour

Another way to immerse in the flavours of the Cook Islands, that’s also more down to earth than an island night, 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. It’s your opportunity to sample the real flavours of Rarotonga and experience the generous hospitality of its locals. Intrigued? Learn more and book your progressive dinner on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see similar food tours in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga.

Location: Transfers are included from anywhere on Rarotonga.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

6. Jump on a Lagoon Cruise

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), both offering ample snorkelling time, a larger-than-life crew and a show on the same uninhabited “motu” (literally, just down the beach from each other). Our advice? Go with the one that gives you the best deal on the day or compare in the 10 Best Day Cruises in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Muri Beach (east side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

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

The Punanga Nui Market in Avarua 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. It’s a sight on Rarotonga not to be missed! Check out more markets in the 5 Best Markets in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), west end of Avarua. Only open on a Saturday.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

8. Kayak on the Lagoon

With so much sheltered lagoon to explore and the abundance of kayaks to borrow, you can’t go to Rarotonga and not do some kayaking. Kayaks are often a free inclusion of any beachfront accommodation on Rarotonga, while kayak rentals are also available with Adventure CookIslands, KiteSUP and Captain Tama Aquasportz – find out more in the 5 Best Kayak Tours & Rentals in the Cook Islands. Don’t know where to paddle to? Check out the best routes in our guide, Kayaking in Rarotonga: Top 5 Places to Kayak.

Location: All over Rarotonga – See the link above for kayak rentals or see a comprehensive list of accommodations (most with kayaks) in Where to Stay on Rarotonga: The Best Rarotonga Accommodations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

9. Go for a Swim at Rarotonga’s Best Waterfall

Cool off and get some “cool” pics at the Papua Waterfall. Also known as Wigmore’s Waterfall, the falls can be found among the forest in a clearing with picnic tables enticing you to stick around for a while – if you do, take some insect repellent with you! The waterfall is at its best when there hasn’t been a dry spell (which isn’t often on Rarotonga) and swimming is best done in the bottom pool; not on top where the water pipes are. Heading here is one of the cheap (and sometimes free) things to do, as listed in the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Rarotonga.

Location: End of Papua Road, Vaimaanga (south end of Rarotonga). To drive up the road to the waterfall, you may be asked for a donation (around NZ$2 for bikes and NZ$5 for cars/trucks).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

10. 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 Rarotonga’s history through captivating displays. Te Ara Museum is an affordable all-weather activity that will only take an hour or so from your day. See grand exhibitions about the early Polynesian navigators who made it to Rarotonga and trace back their journey across the world, learn about European influence, as well as see displays on the present and future of the Cook Islands. You can stick around for light refreshments at the cafe and browse the 100% locally made gifts at the shop. The museum is open seven days a week from 9am (10am on weekends) until 4pm. Check out more all-weather attractions like this in the 15 Things to Do on Rarotonga on a Rainy Day.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

11. Check Out Avana Point, the Vaka Migration Site

Located just north of Muri 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. Many New Zealand Maori can trace their heritage back to these vaka from Rarotonga. The spot is also good for watching the sunrise and enjoying some stargazing in the low light.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

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

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun thing to do in Rarotonga no matter the hour, but at night with your SUP’s LED lights illuminating the lagoon waters beneath you… Oh boy! Both Ariki Adventures and KiteSUP offer wonderful night SUP tours, Ariki Adventures focussing more on the nature of the uninhabited island they visit, while KiteSUP includes a fire show on an uninhabited island. Learn more about the SUP experiences in the 5 Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

13. Do a Tiki Tour Around the Island by Car, Scooter or Bicycle

At just 32km (20 miles) to circumvent the whole island, Rarotonga is an awesome road trip destination. Hire a scooter (Raro style) or a car to spend the day hitting many of the points we cover in this list of things to do on Rarotonga. Bicycles are also a fun option to explore one side of the island at a time, especially the scenic and historic inland road, Ara Metua. Get inspiration for a day trip with A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga.

Location: Check out the 10 Best Car Rentals in RarotongaScooter Hire in Rarotonga: Where to Rent, Cost & More and Cycle Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

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

Another market to migrate to 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 whirlwind of tastes. You’ll be sorted for dinner and dessert, as well as get to mingle with the locals and other travellers at this buzzing event. Check out more must-do food experiences in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

15. Snorkel and See the Spiritual Site at Black Rock

A volcanic outcrop among the sand, 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. At low tide, the rock pools are interesting to investigate, while it’s also a fun snorkelling spot at high tide. Check out more points of interest in the Sightseeing on Rarotonga: Top 10 Sights on Rarotonga.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

16. Get the Local’s Perspective on a Sightseeing Tour of the Island

Speaking of sights, make the most of Rarotonga’s points of interest by learning about the history from a local on one of the guided island tours. Cook Islands Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Raro Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor) both offer orientation tours, getting first-time visitors acquainted with Rarotonga, its snorkelling spots and dining scene, as well as stopping at interesting sights. Raro Safari Tours offers an alternative sightseeing experience, taking you up a mountain in a 4WD to revel in spectacular views of Te Rua Maunga (The Needle). We go into much more detail about these tours in the 10 Best Tours of Rarotonga.

Location: Tours include pick-ups from anywhere on Rarotonga.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

17. 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 and even whales in this semi-submersible vessel. The 1h25mins-1h30mins tour takes you around the RMS Maitai shipwreck and to places that are otherwise a challenge to get to. If that wasn’t enough, a percentage of the trip goes toward local conservation! This is also a spectacular option with kids, as listed in the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.

Location: Tours depart from Avatiu Harbour, Avarua (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Reef Sub

18. Wander Through the Maire Nui Gardens

Cross the quaint footbridges and into seven acres of botanical paradise at Maire Nui Gardens. These gorgeous tropical gardens just outside of Muri provide a stunning environment between the lily ponds, intriguing plants and a backdrop of the dramatic mountain landscape. You can also stop by the Cafe & Grill with food flavoured with the garden’s homegrown herbs and spices. Due to its romantic setting, we also list this activity in the 16 Most Romantic Things to Do on Rarotonga.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

19. See More of Raro’s Marine Life on a Scuba Diving Trip

We’ve touched on how good the snorkelling is in Rarotonga, now imagine the scuba diving! If you’re new to diving, Dive Rarotonga, Pacific Divers and Adventure Cook Islands can show you the ropes (or the tubes?) with scuba diving lessons or an introductory dive trip to discover the stunning coral formations and tropical marine life along the canyons of the lagoon’s passages. 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 Best Dive Shops & Operators in the Cook Islands.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

20. Hit All of the Hottest Cocktail Spots or Do an Island Tour with Tik-ebikes & Tours

Hop on an environmentally-friendly electric tuk-tuk and let your guide transport you and your mates to the hottest cocktail spots and happy hour specials around Rarotonga! Alternatively, Tik-ebikes & Tours also offers sightseeing tours all around the island. See more fun things to do especially for adult groups in the 10 Adults-Only Activities on Rarotonga.

Location: Transfers are included from anywhere on Rarotonga.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

21. Get Muddy on the Raro Buggy or Quad Tour

Raro Buggy Tours and Raro Quad Tours are your opportunity to let loose on an off-roading vehicle, get muddy and explore the inland tracks of Rarotonga. The 1.5-2-hour buggy tour or 2.5-3-hour quad tour starts with a slow-paced yet interesting history tour of the old Sheraton Resort site as you get acquainted with the vehicle. Then you’ll head inland to plantations and dirt tracks including a stop at the Papua Waterfall (Wigmore’s Waterfall). Find out more about the excursion in The Best Off-Road Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Departure is from Wigmore’s Superstore, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Takitumu (south side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

22. See Wildlife, Learn About Marine History and Much 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, 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. Browse the aquarium with its devilish stonefish and learn about how the Cook Islands were formed.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

23. 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. The adults-only Crown Beach Resort & Spa offers private dining under a gorgeous decorated gazebo on the beach. You can also ask about private dining at On The Beach (OTB)Sanctuary Rarotonga on the BeachThe Rarotongan Resort & LagoonariumPacific Resort Rarotonga and more. Dining areas are typically decorated with torches and tropical flowers, and, of course, complete with fine dining cuisine. Plan more of your romantic excursion to Raro using The Wedding, Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Rarotonga.

Location: Crown Beach Resort & Spa, On The Beach (OTB) at Manuia Beach Resort, Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach and The Rarotongan Resort & Lagoonarium – all on Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi (west side of Rarotonga). Pacific Resort Rarotonga – Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (east side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

24. Immerse in the Cook Islands Culture with Raro’s Friendliest Warrior, Tumutoa!

A fun and interactive cultural experience, Tumutoa Tours offers four awesome daytime and evening tours. Meet Tumutoa, adorned in traditional Cook Islander attire and a character you will never forget, who will teach you how to husk a coconut, climb a coconut tree and encourage you to try all sorts of weird and wonderful local fruits on the “Discovery Walking Tour”. Alternatively, spend the day preparing your own “umu”, a traditional underground oven feast, where you’ll prepare everything, even down to weaving your own plates, then enjoy your food with the entertainment of a string band and fire show at the end. Combo experiences are also available, as well as guided inland mountain walks.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

25. Do a Reef or Mountain Walk with Ariimoana

A fascinating eco-tour that gets you exploring the reef safely, Ariimoana has you joining a local family, Kura, Jacapo and their daughter Mahi, 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. Discover similar tours in the 10 Best Eco Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Creators Hype - Cook Islands Tourism

26. Look Out for Whales

Between July and October, the flukes of humpback whales can be seen diving into the deep beyond the reef. While it’s possible to spot whales from any shore of the island, some of the best places include the resorts and accommodations lining the beach in Arorangi and Matavera. See where else to do some whale spotting in the 10 Best Places for Whale Watching in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: See the link above for locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

27. Soothe the Senses with an Island Spa Treatment

Immerse yourself in a therapeutic massage or any other island spa treatment at one of Rarotonga’s spas. A selection of resorts on Rarotonga specialises in spa treatments, from the Vichy Showers of the Waterfall Spa at Rumours Luxury Villas to the indulgent array of couples’ treatments at Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa. There are far too many options to list here, so take a look at the 10 Best Spas in Rarotonga and the 10 Best Spa Resorts in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to find your perfect place to unwind.

Location: See spa locations in the link above.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Pixabay

28. Sight the Matai Shipwreck (Or Take a Tour to Get Closer)

This British cargo ship that 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 swim out to ship yourself. Caution: Only strong swimmers with fins and snorkelling gear should make the journey – and at low tide with other people. The swim is about 500m (1,600ft) from shore. Alternatively, the Matai Shipwreck can be admired on Raro Reef Sub and snorkelling tours with Ariki Adventures and KiteSUP.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

29. Treat the Tastebuds to Rarotonga’s Dining Scene

With every cafe, bar and restaurant so close, you can’t visit Rarotonga 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. The list to too extensive to go through here, but you can start discovering recommendations in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Location: See the links above for locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

30. Visit the Historical Arai-Te-Tonga Marae

One of a few easy-to-access ancient “marae” (Maori gathering place), Arai-Te-Tonga is just off the 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. Learn about its history on the interpretation panel and see the deliberate arrangement of stones in the grassy clearing that marks the site of the marae. Check out more fascinating maraes around the island listed in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Rarotonga.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

31. Do a Tour and Tasting at the Rarotonga Brewery

Brewed right here on Rarotonga, Cook 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. Enjoy a casual affair with a local brewer showing you how they make the good stuff, as well as the brews they’re currently working on.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

32. Catch Yellowfin Tuna or Wahoo on a Fishing Charter

Head out to the blue water outside of the Rarotonga lagoon 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 departing from Avarua. Plan your fishing excursion, along with reef fishing and spearfishing, in The Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: Check out all of the departure points in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Rarotonga.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

33. Tee Off at Rarotonga’s Golf Course or Mini Golf

A casual range where golfers tee off island-style in their shorts and tees, the Rarotonga Golf Club offers a non-pretentious yet challenging 9-hole course among the coconut palms. For something for all the family, Aumata Mini Golf offers 18 holes of fun under the shade of the mango trees, as well as a cafe where pizzas are their speciality. Find out more about making the most of Rarotonga’s golf scene in The Complete Guide to Golf in the Cook Islands.

Location: Rarotonga Golf Club – Tipani Road, Nikao (north side of Rarotonga). Aumata Mini Golf – Inave Road, Arorangi (west side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

34. Party Pacific-Style at Raro’s Bars and Nightclubs

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) to venture to all of the hottest bars and clubs around the island.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

35. 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 across Rarotonga, typically with a 10am service. The Avarua CICC Church is highly recommended for a traditional experience. Alternatively, enjoy something more contemporary and upbeat at the Celebration Church in Nikao. But seriously, all of the churches are very welcoming to visitors, so check out some more in the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.

Location: See the link above for locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

36. Try Some Fudge at Cooks Fudge Factory

Ok, so there are many foodie delights in Avarua between cafes like The Lucky Rooster and Kai & Co. – not to mention the food trucks! But for something a little different, head to Cooks Fudge Factory. Just behind the bus stop, Cooks Fudge Factory offers free tastings of their deliciously creamy creme brulee, Irish cream, Raro lamington, rocky road and more creative fudge flavours. They won’t be offended if you ask for more!

Location: Tutakimoa Road, behind the bus station, central Avarua (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

37. Boost Your Zen with a SUP Yoga Session

No experience is necessary to enjoy a relaxing session of stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga on the Muri Lagoon. Join KiteSUP for a 1h30mins group session or a private session where you’ll paddle out to the shores of a private island for a truly serene floating yoga class. You’ll be taught how to paddle the SUP, while yoga poses are beginner-friendly. That’s not to say that there’s no room for more challenging poses – they make for fun shots! Mat yoga sessions are also available across the island, as listed in the 10 Best Places to Experience Yoga in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands or join one of the yoga retreats, as detailed in The Guide to Retreats in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Yoga, Wellness & More.

Location: 6 Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (east side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

38. 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 Rarotonga’s limited light pollution. Head out on the beach or simply look up from your accommodation on a clear night and enjoy the show. If you can time your visit between late April and late May, Rarotonga captures amazing views of the Eta Aquariids meteor shower.

Location: All over Rarotonga. See The Best Spots for Stargazing in the Cook Islands for specific locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

39. Hit the Island’s Best Sunset Spots

If you’re not staying on Rarotonga’s sunset coast, Arorangi, at least make your way to its never-ending beach to soak up the sunset. Whether it’s from restaurants like On The Beach (OTB) or The Waterline Restaurant, or simply while taking a stroll, the sunset from Arorangi offers a memorable display. Check out the best spots around Rarotonga in the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands, as well as sunrise in the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise.

Location: Arorangi (west coast of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

40. Indulge in a Gourmet Island Platter… Anywhere!

Do breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner a little differently with Island Platters. 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: Anywhere on Rarotonga – platters are delivered to you.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

41. Inspire Yourself at the Art Galleries

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. Pop into the Bergman Gallery, Two Mamas Gallery, The Art Box and more while exploring the island. At The Little Red Gallery, you can even join one of their six-hour painting workshops where you’ll come away with new techniques and you’re own painting to be proud of! See what makes each gallery worth visiting in the 5 Best Art Galleries in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Location: See the link above for art gallery locations.

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

42. 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”. Guided tours of the museum are available at 10am and 2pm. The museum is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

43. Browse the Cook Islands National Museum…

As you can see, 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, traditional tivaevae linen and learn more about their cultural and historical significance through the information texts on the walls. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm.

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

44. … 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 an anchor. Their library also holds a collection of rare books. Find the museum open from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday and on Tuesday evenings from 4pm to 7pm.

Location: Makea Tinirau Road, the eastern end of Avarua (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

45. Get an Island-Style Shirt Made at Tuki’s Pareu

The big blue store of Tuki’s Pareu is a good go-to for island-style attire. Finally, you can get that island shirt made! That’s right, Tuki’s offers tailoring services where their experienced designers and seamstresses can whip up a perfectly fitted flamboyant shirt that will make you look the part for all of your South Pacific holidays. Find them open from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday and until 12pm on Saturday.

Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avarua, the blue buildings at the eastern end just past Trader Jacks (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

46. Shop, Browse the Bergman Gallery and Have a Coffee at the Historic Beachcomber Building

A grand limestone building on the waterfront of Avarua’s eastern shores, the Beachcomber Building not only offers a flair of history but it packs a few reasons to visit. Browse local crafts and black pearls at The Beachcomber Store, browse inspiring local art at the Bergman Gallery and enjoy the quirky setting of The Cafe and the “Vinyl Revival Club”.

Location: Coastal side of the main road (Ara Tapu), opposite Makea Tinirau Road, the eastern end of Avarua (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

47. Try Out Kitesurfing or Winging

The Muri Lagoon is a hub for watersports, with kite sports being another way to experience this natural playground! Rarotonga’s neighbouring island, Aitutaki, might take all the limelight when it comes to kitesurfing, but the Muri Lagoon provides excellent conditions to learn. Join KiteSUP for kitesurfing tutorials, gear hire or try the up-and-coming sport of “winging”. Dive deeper into the subject in Kitesurfing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Kitesurf.

Location: 6 Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (east side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© Cook Islands Tourism

48. Go Shopping for Black Pearls and Other Unique Cook Island 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, with a highlight being black pearls – only farmed in two countries in the South Pacific. Woven fans, earrings and locally-crafted perfumes are also highlights on the shopping list. So pick out some stores from The Guide to Shopping in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands + The Best Places to Shop and The Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands and visit them all!

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

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

49. Snap a Photo of the Pare O Tane Palace

Opposite the prominent CICC Church Avarua stands the historic Pare O Tane Palace of Makea and the surrounding Taputapuatea Marae. The grounds are open to the public to admire this grand building that has been renovated throughout the years. Stand on the grounds where the paramount ariki (chief) of the area, Makea Takau, signed the treaty accepting the Cook Islands as a British protectorate in 1888.

Location: Makea Tinirau Road, opposite the CICC Church, the eastern end of Avarua (north side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

50. See the Derelict Sheraton Resort Site

Not your typical tourist attraction, the remains of the never completed Sheraton Resort are a dot on the map and stop on guided tours. Join Raro Safari Tours or Raro Buggy Tours, for example, and you will hear about how the Cook Islands Government hired some “dodgy” contractors, some say from the Italian mafia, to build the first large-scale five-star hotel on the island. Needless to say, the agreement was a dupe, the government plunged $80 million into debt, and some 40 years on, the spooky buildings along with their stories are all that remain.

Location: On the inland side of the Main Road (Ara Tapu) at the western end of Vaimaanga (south side of Rarotonga).

50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga 🐋 [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

More of the Best Things to Do on Rarotonga

You might now know the top 50 things to do on Rarotonga, but believe it or not, there are still more amazing things to do on Rarotonga! We haven’t even touched on the events, scenic flights and surfing, so take a look:

Finally, don’t miss a thing in the Cook Islands by checking out our 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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