Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism
Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦

Β© David Kirkland – Cook Islands Tourism

10-Day Family Trip to the Cook Islands: Including Rarotonga and Aitutaki!

Lucky enough to have a full 10 days in the Cook Islands? Although lazying in the same resort on Rarotonga for a full 10 days while sticking in the kids in a kids’ club is rather tempting, you actually have plenty of time to not only experience family-friendly adventure, culture and fun on Rarotonga but also soak up the serenity and breathtaking lagoon of Aitutaki! For the family who prefers to explore together while also getting in some much-needed R&R, this Rarotonga and Cook Islands itinerary for 10 days might be just the holiday your family has been needing…

While you’re here, don’t forget to open The Complete Travel Guide to the Cook Islands for Families, which is your complete family-holiday bible to the Cooks!

Overview: Cook Islands 10-Day Itinerary for Families

  • Day 1 – Arrive on Rarotonga
  • Day 2 – Explore the Muri Lagoon
  • Day 3 – Family road trip around Rarotonga + Tumutoa Tours
  • Days 4-5 – Free days on Rarotonga
  • Day 6 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki
  • Day 7 – Tour the Aitutaki Lagoon
  • Day 8 – Family road trip around Aitutaki
  • Days 9 – Relax on Aitutaki
  • Day 10 – Fly to Rarotonga + depature.
Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

How to Get Around the Cook Islands in 10 Days

This Cook Islands family itinerary for 10 days includes travel on two islands, as well as between these islands. Here’s a quick rundown on how to get around the Cook Islands in 10 days.

Road Transport in the Cook Islands

The first road transport you’ll encounter on each of the islands you visit is your airport transfer. On Rarotonga, this must be booked in advance with your resort or with one of the airport shuttle companies, as outlined in the 8 Best Airport Transfers. On Aitutaki, airport transfers are usually provided free of charge by your accommodation.

For travelling on each of the islands, car hire offers the most convenience for families. Get advice on car hire from What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands. On Rarotonga, however, you also have the option of taking the bus, which is compatible with this itinerary. Find out more about the bus in our guide, The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.

Interisland Transport in the Cook Islands

The only manageable way to get between Rarotonga and Aitutaki is via domestic flight. Flights are approximately 50 minutes, while approximate airfares can be found in our guide, Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands. Note that airfares are a little cheaper for children under 12 years old.

For all of your transport options, not limited to the recommendations above, check out the Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© DH - Cook Islands Tourism

Day 1 – Arrive on Rarotonga

Welcome to Rarotonga and the start of your family getaway! After the arrivals process of going through customs and biosecurity, you’ll step outside of the arrivals hall to a flurry of “Kia Oranas” and a floral ‘eis (neck garlands). It’s the customary Cook Islands greeting that most of the airport transfers supply with enthusiasm!

Since it’s your first day in the Cook Islands, take it easy and get settled at your chosen family accommodation. After check-in, relax by the pool, have a paddle with the kayaks provided at your resort and transition to “Raro time”. We’ll go over a few things you can do on Rarotonga tomorrow.

Rarotonga Family Accommodation

Find out more about our top picks in the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga.

Dining Recommendations

For your first night, make things easy for yourself by eating at the restaurant of your chosen accommodation. If your accommodation doesn’t have one, then family-friendly dining alternatives include Charlie’s Cafe for its affordable plates and beachfront location or Wilson’s Beach Bar to feel your toes in the sand and give the option for little ones to play with the toys available. Compare more restaurants in The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© Cook Islands Tourism

Day 2 – Explore the Muri Lagoon

An iconic setting for a family getaway on Rarotonga, the Muri Lagoon has so much on offer that it’s definitely worth spending the day on its beach or cruising on the lagoon.

Things to Do in Muri with Kids

Find more details about these activities and more in the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.

Dining Recommendations

For lunch, if you’re not taking a lagoon cruise, the Deli-Licious Cafe in Muri offers comfortable cuisine, fun animal “table numbers” and friendly dogs to pet. Find out more in the 10 Best Cafes on Rarotonga. Meanwhile for dinner, enjoy highlights like the “Pacific Sizzler” and the kids’ menu at Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar of the Pacific Resort or the island platters and beach views from RSC. Find out about these restaurants and more in The Food Guide to Rarotonga.

Alternatively, Te Vara Nui‘s overwater show and cultural buffet takes place in a stunning water garden venue in Muri. Learn more about it on Viator, Tripadvisor or the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 3 – Family Road Trip Around Rarotonga + Tumutoa Tours

With only 32km (20 miles) around the main road of Rarotonga, Ara Tapu, there’s no risk of “Are we there yet?”. Explore the sights, hit the swimming spots so the kids can burn off some energy, and then conclude your day making your own “umukai” with Tumutoa. More on that below!

Explore Rarotonga

Either rent your own vehicle or get a family day pass for the bus and stop by Rarotonga’s best snorkelling beaches like Tikioki Beach, have a swim at the Papua Waterfall and snap up natural wonders like Black Rock. In between, relax at family-friendly cafes, like the Coconut Crab Cafe of the Discover Marine Wildlife and Eco Centre with its fascinating mini-museum or Beluga Cafe nearby with its creative menu.

For more places to visit on your road trip around the island, check out A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga.

Dining Recommendations

This evening, make an experience out of your dinner with Tumutoa Tours! Join Rarotonga’s friendliest warrior who will teach the family how to prepare an “umukai”, a traditional Polynesian style of cooking. And while you gorge on the fruits of your labour, sit back for an amazing fire show. More details about the experience can be found in the 10 Best Cultural Activities in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Otherwise, if you prefer to dine out again, check out The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours for more dining recommendations.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© Reef Sub

Days 4-5 – Free Days on Rarotonga

You have two full days to experience Rarotonga according to your family’s own style and preference, whether that involves relaxing by the pool all day or doing something more active. We’ll give you more ideas for the latter in the list below!

Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids

  • Let the kids loose at one of the kids’ clubs while you perhaps do some scuba diving or get a spa treatment
  • Check out the underwater world and a shipwreck on the Raro Reef Sub
  • Get competitive at Aumata Mini Golf
  • Do a family-friendly island hike, such as Hospital Hill
  • Experience an eco-reef walk with Ariimoana
  • Explore the Mairie Nui Gardens
  • Have a thrill ride on Rongohiva Watersports’ banana boat
  • Enjoy tropical treats at the Punanga Nui Market
  • Join a cycling tour with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor)…

… And there’s more! Just head to the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids for elaboration on each activity, as well as more recommendations.

Dining Recommendations

If you haven’t already done an “island night”, make sure this is part of your family itinerary at some point! The cultural dancing and delicious island-style cuisine are a must-do for all ages. Find out more about Raro’s cultural shows in the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Additionally, another dining out option includes the toes-in-the-sand experience of Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro with plenty of beachfront for kids to roam. Nautilus Restaurant offers family-friendly fine dining in Muri, while The Brasserie/Spaghetti House of the Edgewater Resort & Spa is always an easy go-to. Again, compare all of your best dining options in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 6 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki

Return your rental car if needed then take an airport transfer or the bus to the domestic terminal of Rarotonga Airport where you’ll take your flight to your next exciting Cook Islands destination, Aitutaki – see our Aitutaki Transport Guide for more details on getting there.

After a scenic 50-minute flight, you’ll meet your accommodation representative at Aitutaki Airport (complete with floral ‘eis) who will transfer you to your chosen accommodation for check-in.

Aitutaki Family Accommodation

For more details on our top picks, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations on Aitutaki.

Dining Recommendations

For dinner, head to the Boat Shed Bar & Grill at Ootu Beach where the kids can let off some steam at the playground and trampoline while you indulge in the restaurant’s irresistible seafood platters and cocktails. If you prefer to self-cater, hire a vehicle and head to the supermarkets in Amuri or Arutanga – more details on self-catering can be found in The Complete Travel Guide to Aitutaki.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 7 – Tour the Aitutaki Lagoon

You can’t visit Aitutaki without touring the lagoon, so make that the first thing you do as a family during your first full day!

Things to Do on the Aitutaki Lagoon with Kids

You have many options when it comes to cruising the lagoon on Aitutaki – the most family-friendly include Teking Lagoon Cruises, The Vaka Cruise and Bishop’s Cruises – just take a look at the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki for a full comparison.

For something more private, exclusively for your family, join either a private charter with Kutekute Tours & Transfers or a sailing tour on a Hobie sailing catamaran with Sailing Aitutaki.

More details about the experiences mentioned above can be found in the 10 Things to Do on Aitutaki with Kids.

Dining Recommendations

Your lagoon cruise will include an island barbecue for lunch. For dinner, try the Mouarii Cafe in Arutanga with a range of Cook Islander dishes, as well as crowd-pleasers for even the fussiest eaters. Alternatively, grab some cheap eats from any one of the takeaways we list in The Top Cheap Eats on Aitutaki.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 8 – Family Road Trip Around Aitutaki

Again, Aitutaki is a small island to explore, so you’ll find enough stunning beaches, island lookouts and cafes to stop by to keep things varied and interesting enough for even the shortest attention spans.

Explore Aitutaki

Save A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Aitutaki on your phone, grab a rental car and hit the road with its scenic lookouts such as the Piraki Lookout, stunning beaches like Base One with its snorkelling site, and the Marine Research Centre with its nursery for giant clams.

Everything you need for an awesome day exploring Aitutaki is in the day trip itinerary linked above.

Dining Recommendations

While you’re exploring Aitutaki today, you have the opportunity to stop by some of the most family-friendly restaurants on the island. Koru Cafe at Ootu Beach is a popular go-to for families, where the french toast and sandwiches are a hit with kids. Alternatively, scout out the Avatea Cafe atop a hill near the village of Tautu. There are open spaces for kids to burn off energy, a small play area for younger ones and a gift shop with lots of interesting finds.

For more ideas or more details on the cafes mentioned above, see The Best Places to Eat on Aitutaki: 10 Best Restaurants on Aitutaki.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© Cook Islands Tourism

Day 9 – Relax on Aitutaki with Kids

You have a whole day to experience anything you might have missed from the 10 Things to Do on Aitutaki with Kids or 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki. Otherwise, Aitutaki is the perfect place to enjoy the relaxing portion of your family holiday thanks to its serene beaches and easy pace of life.

More Things to Do on Aitutaki with Kids

  • Head out on a family kayaking trip
  • Go for a swim at Ootu Beach
  • Enjoy an inflatable tube ride with Wet & Wild
  • Hit one of the snorkelling spots, like Base One
  • Get in some time at the swimming pool
  • Burn off energy at the Arutanga Playground.

Again, more details can be found in the 10 Things to Do on Aitutaki with Kids or the 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki.

Dining Recommendations

If today falls on a Thursday, you have to head to the Tamanu Island Night to watch captivating cultural dancing and drumming along with traditional Aitutakian meals at the “umukai” buffet. It offers a slightly different and more relaxed vibe than the island nights on Rarotonga, so is still worth checking out even if you have already experienced an island night. Find out more about it in the 7 Best Island Nights in the Cook Islands.

Alternatively, head to the shores of Ootu Beach at the Blue Lagoon Restaurant & Bar for relaxing tropical vibes and crowd-pleasing cuisine to indulge in as you watch the sun go down. Get more recommendations from The Food Guide to Aitutaki: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦Β© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 10 – Fly to Rarotonga + Depature

There comes a time during every family getaway when sadness ensues! It’s time to say goodbye to the azure lagoon waters and silky sands of Aitutaki as you depart the Cook Islands.

Check out of your accommodation and a representative will transport you to Aitutaki Airport. Then, fly to Rarotonga International Airport where you’ll make your connecting flight home.

Remember to arrive at Rarotonga International Airport a couple of hours before your scheduled departure so that you have enough time to check in, go through security and browse the duty-free. If the kids want something to remember the Cook Islands by, have a browse of Rarotonga International Airport’s duty-free stores with floral or shell ‘eis (necklaces), wooden carvings, local perfumes, pint-sized ukuleles and more. Check out the 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for souvenir ideas.

And it’s “ka kite” from the Cook Islands!

Alternative Cook Islands 10-Days Itineraries

Is this 10-day family itinerary for the Cook Islands not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for 10 days:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed from this Cook Islands family itinerary, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to the Cook Islands for Families.

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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