Where to Kayak in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
With sheltered lagoons, gorgeous sandy coastline and a wealth of marine life to discover, the Cook Islands is a paradise for kayaking. Enjoy casual paddling from the shores of Rarotonga and Aitutaki or head out on a more elaborate excursion. We go through the best spots to paddle from shore, as well as places for a longer kayaking trip, in this guide to kayaking in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.
Where to Hire Kayaks
Apart from many beachfront accommodations that provide kayaks to guests for free, there are kayak rentals available at each of the spots mentioned on this list of the best places to kayak in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands (apart from Aitutaki where rental is only available through resorts). Check out our full listing of kayak rentals in the 5 Best Kayak Hires in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
1. Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga
One of the widest parts of the lagoon encircling Rarotonga, the Muri Lagoon is an awesome place to explore by kayak. If you’re not staying at one of the beachfront accommodations with kayak rentals included, hire your kayak from Captain Tama’s or KiteSUP on Muri Beach and hit the tranquil waters to explore the four motu (islets) just offshore. Take some snorkelling gear and paddle following the inner reef between the motu of Koromiri and Taakoka with some excellent wee snorkelling spots. You can even land on the beach of Koromiri and relax on the sand. What’s more, with Muri Beach just a short paddle from anywhere, the Muri Lagoon offers safe and easy paddling for all.
Location: Muri Beach, east side of Rarotonga.
2. Aroa Beach, Rarotonga
On the southwest corner of Rarotonga, Aroa Beach is not only an excellent place to paddle for its marine reserve and snorkelling opportunities but you have options for kayak hire if you’re not staying at one of the resorts here. Adventure Cook Islands is based here with single and double kayaks to rent – see the 5 Best Kayak Hires in the Cook Islands for more information. Enjoy a short and relaxing paddle from shore and explore the coral heads (being careful not to paddle into them). You can also do an extended trip from Aroa Beach along the south coast – see point #4 for more details.
Location: Aroa Beach, Arorangi, southwest side of Rarotonga (at The Rarotongan Resort).
3. Titikaveka, Rarotonga
A wide stretch of lagoon on the southeast corner of Rarotonga with no passages to navigate (unlike other parts of the south coast), the lagoon off the shores of Titikaveka offers safe kayaking. The kayaking is particularly good in the deeper waters and marine reserve in front of Tikioki Beach towards the east end of Titikaveka. Again, take some snorkelling gear to enjoy watching the fish, starfish, giant clams and coral at this marine reserve, which you can find out more about in The Best Snorkelling in the Cook Islands: Top 10 Places to Snorkel. Kayak hire is available from Charlie’s Cafe & Beach Hire.
Location: Titikaveka, southeast coast of Rarotonga.
4. Aroa to Titikaveka (or Muri), Rarotonga
Ok, enough of the casual paddling! If you’re looking for a real journey by kayak on Rarotonga then try out this route from Aroa Beach to Titikaveka (or vice versa). Hire your kayak from Adventure Cook Islands if starting in Aroa or from Charlie’s if starting in Titikaveka and make your way along the stunning south coast of Rarotonga. There are lagoon passages with strong currents on this route, so don’t kayak too close to the reef. It’s approximately 8.5km (5.3 miles) to paddle between Aroa Beach and Tikioki Beach in Titikaveka. You can extend your journey further all the way to Muri Beach, taking you an additional 1-3km (0.6-1.9 miles) depending on how far you want to go. You’ll find excellent little beaches and cafes to stop by along the way, making this a fun half-day out!
Location: Aroa Beach, Arorangi, southwest side of Rarotonga (at The Rarotongan Resort) or Titikaveka, southeast coast of Rarotonga.
5. Akitua and Ootu Beach, Aitutaki
Finally, you won’t miss out on the kayaking fun that Aitutaki has to offer. With an area of between 50 and 74km² (19 and 29 mi²) combined with frequent strong winds, kayaking across the Aitutaki Lagoon is not recommended – a few tourists have got into trouble in the past. However, the best and safest kayaking in Aitutaki is off the shores of Ootu Beach. You can paddle around the island of Akitua and its sandbank (where the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort is located) and even across to the motu (islet) behind it, Angarei which is uninhabited. However, it is not recommended to pass the motu after that, Motu Ee, unless you’re an experienced ocean kayaking that knows what they’re doing.
Location: Ootu Beach, at the end of the Ootu Peninsula on the east side of Aitutaki. Kayaks are available to rent for guests of Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort, Ranginui’s Retreat, Etu Moana (they have a shipping container here) and Aitutaki Village.
More About Kayaking in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Now that you know where to kayak in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, how about more amazing watersports to try?!
- SUP in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: 5 Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding
- Kitesurfing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Kitesurf
- Windsurfing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Windsurf
Finally, plan more experiences beyond watersports in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List, as well as the logistics of your whole trip using The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.