Explore the Islands and Lagoons of Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Beyond on the Best Tours in the Cook Islands
Don’t just rent a car or a scooter and hope for the best. Make sure you hit all of the highlights, as well as discover some real hidden gems, on one of the amazing tours in the Cook Islands. From off-roading in the mountains of Rarotonga to cruising the lagoon in Aitutaki to exploring caves on one of the outer islands, the Cook Islands offers an eclectic selection of guided tours to help you truly experience this Pacific paradise. Discover some of the top recommended in this list of best tours in the Cook Islands.
1. Ariki Adventures, Rarotonga
When it comes to getting out on the water, which is kind of a must-do on Rarotonga, Ariki Adventures have a pretty awesome tour menu. Their “Turtle Sea Scooter Safari“, a two-hour experience zooming alongside sea turtles with electric sea scooters, is an effortless way to see these majestic creatures. They also offer “Lagoon Discovery Sea Scooter Safari” snorkelling in the lagoon, while their “Shipwreck Sea Scooter Safari” allows you to experience the Matai Shipwreck underwater.
Learn more about their tours and book your trip on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see how their snorkelling tours compare to the 10 Best Snorkelling Tours in the Cook Islands and learn about Ariki Adventures’ paddleboarding tours in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours & Hires in the Cook Islands.
2. Cook Islands Tours, Rarotonga
The locally owned and operated Cook Islands Tours offers a few popular tours of Rarotonga, more famously their “Progressive Dinner Tour“, but if you want to see more of the island, do their “Orientation & Sightseeing Tour“. Their 2h30mins tour is a must for first-time visitors, pointing out some excellent places to eat on the island, interesting activities to do, as well as stopping by some cultural attractions that you can tick off the list, such as Black Rock and the Rarotonga Brewery.
Find out more about the tours, check out reviews and book tours on Viator or Tripadvisor. Alternatively, Cook Islands Tours offers a sightseeing “Avarua Historical Walking Tour“, which you can find out more about in the 8 Best Guided Walks in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
3. Teking Lagoon Cruises, Aitutaki
When it comes to lagoon cruises, nothing compares to those on the Aitutaki Lagoon. One of the top choices for touring the lagoon and its “motu”, Teking Lagoon Cruises offers a small-group tour, visiting four of the lagoon’s islands and three vibrant snorkelling spots where the focus on ecology and conservation allows you to get more out of the experience. Tours are approximately five hours and include an island barbecue lunch. Private charters and two-hour sunset tours with Champagne are also available.
Compare this lagoon cruise with others in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
4. Koka Lagoon Cruises, Rarotonga
For some fun on the lagoon of Rarotonga, take a tour with Koka Lagoon Cruises. The half-day cruise from Muri Beach includes snorkelling at the Tikioki Marine Reserve where you’ll be free to swim among the giant clams, angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish and much more. After snorkelling, the cruise on the glass-bottom boat crosses the Muri Lagoon to the uninhabited Motu Koromiri for a barbecue lunch combined with a fun yet informative coconut and sarong-tying show. The ukulele band entertains throughout the experience.
Check out reviews and book tickets with Koka Lagoon Cruises on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see how the cruise compares to the 10 Best Tours of Rarotonga.
5. Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours, Rarotonga
An alternative way to tour the Cook Islands is on land via bike with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours. They have bikes for all ages, so there’s no excuse not to join them on their “Discover” tour suited to beginner cyclists or their “Explore” tour for the more experienced. Cycle past quaint villages, learn about the history along the old Ara Metua coral road, and stop for tastings of local fruit discovered along the way. Whichever of the two tours you choose, your experience with conclude with a delicious local lunch.
Learn more about Storytellers on Viator and Tripadvisor. Storytellers also operate walking tours, which you can learn more about in the 8 Best Guided Walks in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
6. Raro Safari Tours, Rarotonga
Jump in a characterful safari Jeep and hit the coast road, back roads and dirt roads of Rarotonga with Raro Safari Tours. This three-hour tour incorporates history and culture as you traverse the inland road seeking out historical sites, visiting plantations and – the highlight – racing up the dirt tracks of an inland mountain to a spectacular viewpoint of Te Rua Manga, a.k.a. The Needle. The tour also includes a stop at Papua Waterfall (Wigmore’s Waterfall), a buffet lunch and lots of humour!
See more tours like this in the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
7. Birdman George Eco Tours, Atiu
The Cook Islands Maori name for Atiu is “Enuamanu“, meaning the “land of birds” so it would almost be a crime to not join a tour to scout out the colourful kura or rare kakerori of this outer island! Luckily, “Birdman George” is here to tremendously increase your chances of seeing the island’s wonderful birds. Not only will George point out birds that he has been looking after on this island since he was first employed to bring back the kakerori when they were on the brink of extinction, but he’ll also point out all sorts of interesting Atiuan plants and explain their medicinal uses. The finale is at a picturesque beach where George will serve a tropical spread. The tour lasts four to five hours and transfers are included.
See more tours like Birdman George’s in the 10 Best Eco Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands, as well as more tours on Atiu listed in the 5 Best Tours on Atiu.
8. Raro Reef Sub, Rarotonga
A water tour with a difference, cruise to the deep outer reef of Rarotonga 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! Tours depart from the Avatiu Harbour (Avarua), Sunday to Friday, three to four times a day if the weather allows.
See more experiences like this in the 10 Best Boat & Sailing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
9. Tuatini Cave Tour, Mangaia
For those feeling more adventurous, cave tours are a highlight of the outer islands of Mangaia, Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke! Tuatini Cave on the oldest island of the Cook Islands, Mangaia, is what many believe is the grandest cave in the Cooks. It is also extensive and largely untouched, characterised by magnificent stalagmites, stalactites and crystalline floors, walls and ceilings. The local guides will show you a vast amount of the cave, tell stories of their ancestors (showing you cooking instruments and fish hooks that remain) and point out prehistoric crabs that now live here. Tours of the cave alone last approximately two hours. Island tours including visiting the cave are sometimes an option.
Learn about how to organise cave tours, as well as see more caves to visit, in the 10 Best Caves in the Cook Islands and 15 Best Things to Do on Mangaia.
10. Raro Buggy Tours and Raro Quad Tours, Rarotonga
Finally, do the driving yourself on an exciting off-roading tour with Raro Buggy Tours or Raro Quad Tours. The main difference is that one tour is in two-seater 4×4 buggies lasting 1h30mins to 2 hours and the other is on quad bikes lasting from 2h30mins to 3 hours. Either way, you’ll start off getting accustomed to your vehicle and following your guide to historical sites before hitting the muddy tracks and plantations on your way to the Papua Waterfall (Wigmore’s Waterfall).
Learn more about the tour and others similar in the 5 Best Off-Road Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
More About Tours in the Cook Islands
Now that you are aware of the diversity of the Cook Islands’ best tours, check out more tour options listed in the articles below:
- 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Island-Hopping Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Boat & Sailing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
Finally, check out all of the Cook Islands’ activities in our epic 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands.