The Best Activities and Attractions on Mangaia for Couples
At first glance, Mangaia might not seem like a romantic holiday destination. Its black “makatea” (coral rock) envelopes the landscape, making for a pretty hostile piece of land to set foot on. Those who do set foot, however, will soon discover the more romantic aspects of the Cook Islands’ most ancient island. Delve deep into its makatea to discover caves where the floor glitters, explore the nooks and crannies of the coastline to find secluded beaches, and experience the kind hospitality of the locals who are keen to share the most endearing aspects of their culture, such as the gifting of “pupu eis” (shell garlands).
If you’re visiting the island on honeymoon or simply for a couples’ getaway, then this list of the most romantic things to do on Managaia offers plenty of ideas to make your trip that little bit extra special.
For more tips for couples, check out The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Mangaia. If you need a place to stay, check out Where to Stay on Mangaia: The Best Mangaia Accommodations.
1. Explore Glittering Caves
Mangaia is home to some of the largest and most impressive caves in the Cook Islands, adorned with limestone stalactites, stalagmites and, most noteworthy of all, crystalline floors that sparkle like glitter in the torchlight – very romantic until you come across the odd pile of human bones where Mangaia’s ancestors used to bury their dead… But we digress! Stick to the sparkles and Mangaia’s caves certainly deserve a place in this list of romantic things to do!
Some spectacular caves to visit include Te Rua Rere, Toru a Poru and Tuatini, all of which you can hire guides to lead you through their complex network of tunnels. Tours last approximately a couple of hours and usually include transfers. Choose your cave using the 5 Best Caves on Mangaia.
Location: See the link above for locations.
2. Experience Breathtaking Beaches All to Yourselves
Mangaia hides many tranquil stretches of sand down the nooks and crannies of its intricate coast, most of which slope into the reef and are backed with dramatic makatea. What’s more, you almost always have these beaches all to yourselves… One of the most picturesque beaches is Ara’oa Beach at the northern tip of the island. Stop for a paddle on the reef and get some mesmerising photos of its makatea boulders and caves. Other stunning beaches include Karanga Nui Beach and Anguna Beach.
Location: Ara’oa Beach – North side of Mangaia, on the coastal road, approximately 2.5km (1.6 miles) from Ivirua village. Karanga Nui Beach – East side of Mangaia, on the coastal road, just north of Ivirua. Anguna Beach – East side of Mangaia, south end of Ivirua village down the rough coastal road turnoff (toward the old Ara Moana Bungalows).
3. Admire the Views from the Island’s Lookouts
Mangaia is home to several spectacular lookouts where you can soak in the views and experience the tranquillity of the island together. Rangimotia is the highest point on the island at 169m (554ft) and offers stunning views right to the coast – a fantastic day hike on the island. Other viewpoints include Te Pa’ata on a backroad above Oneroa, Maumaukura with glorious views inland from the top of a makatea cliff. There are many more across the island, so simply stop (or hike) and take a look!
Location: Rangimotia – Centre of Mangaia, signposted off the central inland road (better for walking than driving). Te Pa’ata – West side of Mangaia, Pa’ata Road, Oneroa. Maumaukura – South side of Mangaia, main road, approximately 200m (219 yards) east of Tamarua village.
4. Create a Unique Piece of Jewellery on the Mangaia Golden Shells Tour
When you disembark your plane at Mangaia Airport, your hosts usually greet you with pupu eis, rather than floral eis like in the rest of the Cook Islands. That’s because “pupu” or “golden shells” are part of the tradition of Mangaia, where locals collect these tiny shells on the beaches and forests of Mangaia and use them to create unique pieces of jewellery. On the Mangaia Golden Shells Tour, you’ll follow the process of collecting shells and making your own piece of art that makes a memorable gift for your loved one (just a hint). Tours take approximately two hours and include transfers and light refreshments.
Location: Transfers are included in the tour mentioned above.
5. Have a Romantic Picnic by Lake Tiriara
Mangaia’s only lake is a worthwhile stop while exploring the island. The peaceful Lake Tiriara sits among swampland and reeds, backed with high makatea and a cave mouth that leads underwater all the way to the coast! Although the lake isn’t exactly ideal for a swim, there are a few lookouts along the inland road between Tamarua and Oneroa, as well as a short walkway to a picnic area that makes an irresistible spot to picnic with your loved one or, you know, maybe pop the question?
Location: South side of Mangaia, along the inland road between Tamarua and Oneroa, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Tamarua.
6. Watch the Sunset from Avarua Landing
See vibrant hues across the sky and reflecting off the reef at Avarua Landing. The wharf is one of the best places on the island (and in the Cook Islands) to watch the sunset, making for an, undoubtedly, romantic activity. If you’re here between July and October, you often see humpback whales just beyond the reef!
Location: West side of Mangaia, on the coastal road between Orongo and Managaia Villas.
More Romantic Things to Do on Mangaia
While that’s it for our most romantic things to do on Mangaia for couples, there’s a lot more to discover on the Cook Islands’ oldest island. Check out more experiences that might not necessarily fall under the “romantic” category, but are awesome nonetheless:
Finally, if there’s anything about your romantic getaway that we’ve missed, you’ll find it in the 20 Most Romantic Things to Do in the Cook Islands for Couples and The Wedding, Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to the Cook Islands.