14-Day Family Trip to the Cook Islands: Including Rarotonga and Aitutaki!
Lucky enough to have a full 14 days in the Cook Islands? Although lazying in the same resort on Rarotonga for a full 2 weeks 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 holiday together while also getting in some much-needed R&R, this Rarotonga and Cook Islands itinerary for 14 days might be just the holiday you were looking for…
While you’re here, don’t forget to open The Complete Travel Guide to the Cook Islands for Families; your complete family-holiday bible to the Cooks!
Overview: Cook Islands 2-Week (14-Day) Itinerary for Families
- Day 1 – Arrive on Rarotonga
- Days 2-3 – Explore the Muri Lagoon
- Day 4 – Family road trip around Rarotonga + Tumutoa Tours
- Days 5-7 – Free days on Rarotonga
- Day 8 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki
- Day 9 – Tour the Aitutaki Lagoon
- Day 10 – Family road trip around Aitutaki
- Days 11-12 – Relax on Aitutaki
- Day 13 – Fly to Rarotonga + Muri Night Market
- Day 14 – Last day on Rarotonga.
How to Get Around the Cook Islands in 2 Weeks
This Cook Islands family itinerary for 14 days (2 weeks) 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 2 weeks.
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 has family fares available and 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.
For all of your transport options, however, check out the Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.
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 the greetings of “Kia Orana” and a floral ‘ei put over your heads. 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
- Pacific Resort Rarotonga
- Edgewater Resort & Spa
- Mama Taras Bungalows
- The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
- Palm Grove
- Nautilus Resort
- Nikao Beach Bungalows
- Muri Beachcomber
- The Black Pearl at Puaikura
- Rarotonga Daydreamer Escape
Find out more about our top picks in the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga.
For your first night, make things easy for yourself by eating at the restaurant of your chosen accommodation. If your accommodation doesn’t have a restaurant, then family-friendly recommendations 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 across Raro in The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.
Days 2-3 – 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
- Cruise the Muri Lagoon, complete with snorkelling and a coconut show on an uninhabited island with Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes or Koka Lagoon Cruises
- Hire a kayak, stand-up paddleboard and/or some snorkelling gear and go on a family adventure across the lagoon
- Dine at the beach-fringing cafes and restaurants while the kids play in the sand
- Join a guided night SUP tour with LED lights illuminating the lagoon
- Head out on a fishing charter from Avana Wharf.
Find more details about these activities and more in the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.
For lunch, if you’re not heading on a lagoon cruise, the Deli-Licious Cafe in Muri offers a comfortable menu, 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 take 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.
Day 4 – Family Road Trip Around Rarotonga + Tumutoa Tours
With only 32 km (20 mi) 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!
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.
This evening, make an experience out of your dinner with Tumutoa Tours! Join Rarotonga’s friendliest warrior to learn how to prepare your own “umukai”, a traditional Polynesian style of cooking. And while you gorge on the fruits of your labour, sit back with the family for an amazing fire show. Learn more about the experience 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.
Days 5-7 – Free Days on Rarotonga
You have three full days to experience Rarotonga according to your family’s own style and preference, whether it’s relaxing by the pool all day or doing something more active. Find out more about 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 experience scuba diving or perhaps 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 a 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…
… And much more as listed in the 30 Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids.
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. Choose the right cultural night for your family in the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
For more evenings at Rarotonga’s restaurants, try the toes-in-the-sand experience of Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro with plenty of space for kids to explore. Nautilus Restaurant offers family-friendly fine dining in Muri, while you can’t go too wrong at The Brasserie/Spaghetti House of the Edgewater Resort & Spa. Again, compare all of your best dining options in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Day 8 – 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 about 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
- Aitutaki Village
- Kuru Club Aitutaki
- Gina’s Garden Lodges
- Are Kapakapa
- Tavake Villa
- Moana Villa Aitutaki
- Ranginui’s Retreat
- Tamanu Beach Resort
- Rino’s Bungalows
- Reef Motel – Aitutaki
- Ranginui Sunset
- Paparei Beachfront Bungalows
For more details on our top picks, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations on Aitutaki.
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.
Day 9 – 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 on the atoll!
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 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.
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.
Day 10 – Family Road Trip Around Aitutaki
Again, Aitutaki is a small island to explore. You’ll find enough stunning beaches, island lookouts and cafes to stop by to keep things varied and interesting for even the shortest attention spans.
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.
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.
Days 11-12 – Relax on Aitutaki with Kids
You have two whole days 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. It’s paradise, after all…
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 your accommodation’s pool
- Burn off energy at the Arutanga Playground.
If either one of the days 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 well worth checking out even if you have already experienced an island night. Find out more about Tamanu’s cultural show in the 7 Best Island Nights in the Cook Islands.
On one of your evenings, 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.
Day 13 – Fly to Rarotonga + Muri Night Market
Check out of your accommodation and a representative will transport you to Aitutaki Airport. Then, say goodbye to the quieter side of the Cook Islands as you fly back to Rarotonga today. We recommend making your way back to Rarotonga a day before departure, not just to spend more time on Raro but just in case there are cancellations or rescheduling of your flight – you wouldn’t want to miss your flight back home, would you? Wait, would you?!
Alternative Family Accommodation on Rarotonga
- Lagoon Breeze Villas
- Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
- Coral Sands Apartments
- Paradise Holiday Homes
- Manea on Muri
- Arapati Holiday Homes
- Avana Waterfront Apartments
- Moana Oasis Villa
- Muri Beach Resort
- Sands Villas Rarotonga
- Muri Lagoon View Bungalows
- Muri Shores
- Pacific Palms Luxury Villa
- Bella Beach Bungalows
- Sunhaven Beach Bungalows…
… Again, details on these accommodations can be found in the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga.
Make your last night on Rarotonga extra special with the exciting sights and sounds of the Muri Night Market! Treat the kids to all sorts of Western, Asian and Cook Islander flavours and treats like churros and baby pancakes at this food truck festival taking place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening. What’s more, the prices are irresistible! Learn more about the market in the 5 Best Markets in Rarotonga and places to eat in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Day 14 – Last Day on Rarotonga
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 Rarotonga and the Cook Islands as you depart for home and reality.
If the kids want something to remember the Cook Islands by, have one last browse of the craft and gift shops of Avarua and 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 ideas.
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. Airport transfers are a little cheaper for your departure flight, so check them out in the 8 Best Airport Transfers in Rarotonga.
And it’s “ka kite” from the Cook Islands!
Alternative Cook Islands 2-Week Itineraries
Is this 14-day family itinerary for the Cook Islands not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for 14 days/2 weeks:
- Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mauke & Mitiaro Itinerary: 14 Days
- Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu & Mangaia Itinerary: 14 Days
- Cook Islands Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days
- Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 14 Days
- Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 14 Days
- Cook Islands Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: 14 Days
- Cook Islands Adults-Only Itinerary: 14 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.