Explore Rarotonga’s Land and Lagoon with the Best Tours of Rarotonga
Don’t be that guy that just rents a car, sticks to the coastal road and misses all the highlights of Rarotonga without realising it. Get a local to show you the hidden gems, best snorkelling spots, places to eat, historical sites and more on a tour of Rarotonga. Minibuses, safari Jeeps, electric tuk-tuks and glass-bottom boats have all been kitted out to show you around the island on tours ranging from two hours to a half-day – you’ll be back well on time for happy hour! So check out some of the best lagoon and island tours, right here, in our list of the best tours of Rarotonga.
1. Tik-ebikes & Tours
Hop on one of the most unique vehicles to tour around Rarotonga with Tik-ebikes & Tours! Their “Island Tour” takes you around Rarotonga in an environmentally-friendly tuk-tuk where you’ll stop by historical sites, such as the Tinomana Palace, stunning landscapes like the Mairie Nui Gardens and along the soft sands of Muri Beach. You’ll get an insight into the history and culture of the island with an interesting stop at the Rito Organic Coconut Oil Factory and get some time to experience the local arts and shops of Avarua before you’re transported back to your accommodation.
Tours last approximately three hours and depart at 9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
2. Cook Islands Tours
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.
3. Koka Lagoon Cruises
For some fun on the water, 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 your tour with Koka Lagoon Cruises on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see how the cruise compares to the 10 Best Day Cruises in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
4. Raro Tours
Another spectacular orientation tour of Rarotonga, Raro Tours‘ “Island Discovery Tour” is an excellent way to get acquainted with the island, including its snorkelling spots. The three-hour tour also includes a few exclusive highlights of its own, such as stops and commentary at historical maraes (an ancient gathering place), visiting local industries like a perfumes factory and tasting locally-made liqueurs. You’ll also stop for a coconut husking demonstration to learn more about the “Tree of Life”.
5. Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours
An alternative way to tour Rarotonga is 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.
Transfers are included in this tour and morning departure times are organised with the operator. Depending on what tour you choose, they are available from Monday to Friday. Learn more about Storytellers on Viator and Tripadvisor.
6. Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes
Almost identical to Koka Lagoon Cruises, Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes also offers a fun-filled half-day on the waters of the Muri Lagoon. The main differences are that the cruise departs a little later (11am instead of 10am for Koka) and the crew are a little more “cheeky” which might not click with everyone’s humour. Nevertheless (or more, depending on how you look at it), the tour still includes an awesome time snorkelling, indulging in an island barbecue on Motu Koromiri, and watching a fun coconut and sarong demonstration.
7. Raro Safari Tours
Jump in a characterful safari Jeep and hit the coast road, back roads and dirt roads 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!
Raro Safari Tours has a morning and afternoon departure most days, otherwise, they will just operate their morning tour from 9.30am.
8. Raro Buggy Tours and Raro Quad Tours
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).
Tours depart from Wigmore’s Superstore (Vaimaanga) at 8.30am and 11.30am for buggy tours/12.30pm for quad tours, Monday to Friday and only in the morning on Saturdays. This is an epic tour for couples, as listed in the 16 Most Romantic Things to Do on Rarotonga.
9. 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!
Tours last approximately 1h15mins to 1h30mins and depart from the Avatiu Harbour (Avarua), Sunday to Friday, three to four times a day if the weather allows. This is also a spectacular option with kids, as listed in the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.
10. Aitutaki Day Tour
There’s much more to the Cook Islands than Rarotonga, so we fully encourage you to discover the other islands for yourself and see just how different they are! If you don’t have time to stay on another island, however, then you need the Aitutaki Day Tour. Operated by Air Rarotonga, the day tour to Aitutaki is a complete island package from Rarotonga including return flights, a six-hour lagoon cruise with The Vaka Cruise (see below), a barbecue lunch on the boat and transfers both on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. It couldn’t be easier!
Tours operate Monday to Saturday and the flight departs at 8am.
More About the Best Tours on Rarotonga
Now that you know some of the best tours on Rarotonga, discover more guided experiences in the following lists:
- 10 Best Eco Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 6 Best Snorkelling Tours in Rarotonga
- 10 Best Tours in the Cook Islands
Finally, don’t miss a thing from your bucket list by using the 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga and 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.