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Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© Alisha Street - Cook Islands Tourism
Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎

© Alisha Street – Cook Islands Tourism

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

Are the powdery sands, turquoise lagoons and lush rainforests of the Cook Islands calling your name? It’s time to explore paradise with nothing less than pure indulgence in mind. This is your luxury escape, after all. Whether you’re celebrating something special or “just ’cause”, this Cook Islands luxury itinerary for 10 days will ensure your wanderlust and rejuvenation needs are seen to. Not only will you visit the most popular of the islands, Rarotonga, but you’ll also escape to the more serene and pristine lagoon of Aitutaki.

While you’re here, don’t forget to peruse The Complete Luxury Guide to the Cook Islands; your bible to luxury in the Cooks!

Overview: Cook Islands Luxury 10-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival on Rarotonga
  • Day 2 – Private tour of Rarotonga
  • Day 3 – Adventure in Raro
  • Day 4 – Relax in Raro
  • Day 5 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki
  • Day 6 – Private tour of the Aitutaki Lagoon
  • Days 7-8 – Relax in Aitutaki
  • Day 9 – Fly to Rarotonga + luxury self-drive tour
  • Day 10 – Souvenir shopping + departure.
Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

How to Get Around the Cook Islands in 10 Days

This Cook Islands luxury 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, you can either book this in advance with one of the airport shuttle/private transfer companies or simply hop in one of the airport taxis, as outlined in the 8 Best Airport Transfers. On Aitutaki, airport transfers are provided by your accommodation.

For travelling on each of the islands, car hire offers the most flexibility and convenience. Get further advice from What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands. You’ll find, however, that most days on this luxury itinerary feature tours that have transport included. For everything in between, taxi services are available. Find out more in our guide to Taxis in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Interisland Transport in the Cook Islands

This luxury itinerary has you travelling between Rarotonga and Aitutaki via domestic flight. Flights are approximately 50 minutes, while approximate airfares and schedules can be found in our guide, Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands. Private jet charters are also available for transport to Aitutaki, should you prefer. Find out more in How to Hire a Plane in the Cook Islands: A Guide to Plane Charters.

For all of your transport options across the islands, not limited to the most “luxurious”, check out the Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 1 – Arrival on Rarotonga

Welcome to Rarotonga and the start of your 10-day escape to paradise! After the arrivals process of going through customs and biosecurity, you’ll step outside of the arrivals hall to the Cook Island’s traditional greeting of a floral ‘ei (neck garland), as well as a glass of bubbles for the journey if choosing the private airport transfer with Raro Tours.

Since it’s your first day in the Cook Islands, take it easy and get settled at your chosen luxury accommodation. After check-in, relax by your private 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 Luxury Accommodations

Get details on all of our recommended stays in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations & Resorts on Rarotonga.

Dining Recommendations

Resorts such as Nautilus Resort, Little Polynesian, Crown Beach Resort & Spa and Pacific Resort Rarotonga have their own reputable restaurant, so we recommend dining at one of these if that’s where you’re staying (or get a complimentary shuttle to the Pacific Resort, if staying at Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa). Otherwise, why not get your Cook Islands getaway off to an indulgent start with a gourmet platter delivered right to your villa’s deck with Island Platters? Find out more about the latter option in the 8 Best Luxury Experiences on Rarotonga.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 2 – Private Tour of Rarotonga

For your first full day on Rarotonga, get acquainted with the island through one of the fabulous guided tours exclusively catered to you and your nearest and dearest.

Raro Tours offers a private scenic island tour with a drive down the ancient Ara Metua inland road, visiting historical maraes, the Mairie Nui Tropical Gardens, a shell-carving studio and spa product producer and many more hidden gems that many tourists miss.

Alternatively, Cook Islands Tours offers private orientation tours of the island, taking you to interesting sights and pointing out all sorts of recommendations that you can benefit from throughout your trip.

Discover more about guided tours across Raro in the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Dining Recommendations

Treat yourself to a bit of fine dining this evening with a memorable meal at Antipodes. Perched on the hillside of Black Rock, the Mediterranean-inspired villa with three levels of dining area basks in wonderful views and sunsets. Needless to say, you’ll need to make a booking a few nights ahead for this hotspot! Get more recommendations on where to eat from the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 3 – Adventure in Raro

Early into your trip is when most tend to have adequate energy for active adventures, so make “Day 3” the day you do the experience you’ve been dreaming about.

Option 1: Private Snorkelling Tour

Join Snorkel Cook Islands for a three-hour private tour with VIP transfers to their exclusive beach and high-quality snorkelling gear included. Snorkel among some of the most vibrant marine areas of Rarotonga before concluding with a banquet of refreshments. Learn more, read reviews and book the experience on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, see how the snorkelling tour compares to the 6 Best Snorkelling Tours in Rarotonga.

Option 2: Private Turtle Swimming Tour

Alternatively, experience a private turtle swimming tour with an award-winning photographer on Charlotte Piho Photography Tours. The 1h30mins experience will get you close to Rarotonga’s stunning turtles and have you coming away with high-quality underwater photos. Again, discover more about the tour on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, compare it with others in the 7 Best Turtle Swimming Tours in Rarotonga.

Option 3: Guided Hike of the Cross Island Trek

Rarotonga’s most iconic hiking trail, the Cross Island Trek takes you through tropical jungle and to volcanic peaks with unmatched scenery. Combine with experience with the guided eco-tour of Maunga Tours, including lunch and a guide with a wealth of knowledge. Learn more about the tour in the 8 Best Guided Walks in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Dining Recommendations

You will have surely worked up an appetite today, so treat yourself to a three-course (or five-course, depending on the day) fine dining medley at On The Beach (OTB) Restaurant & Sunset Bar. Every course has its own individual chef headed by veteran cuisiner, Phillip Nordt, who’s famous on the island for his TV cooking show and other foodie ventures. See how the restaurant compares to The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© Derek Smith - Cook Islands Tourism

Day 4 – Relax in Raro

Take some time today to unwind. No doubt, that’s partly what you flew to the Cook Islands to do anyway…

Of course, the most relaxing experience you can have on Rarotonga is indulging in a spa day. Raro has a number of fabulous spas, from the Vichy Shower specialists at the Waterfall Spa of Rumours Luxury Villas to the reputable Te Manava Spa. Be sure to compare all of your options in the 10 Best Spas in Rarotonga.

Otherwise, the luxury villas and resorts of Rarotonga offer plenty of ways to relax and rejuvenate in paradise, between paddling on the lagoon via SUP or kayak and cooling off in your own private pool.

Dining Recommendations

We have two very different but equally lavish dining recommendations for your day of relaxation in Raro, so take your pick. On one hand, experience the creative cuisine of the Nautilus Restaurant with plenty of sustainably-minded options including some of the best vegan dishes on the island. On the other hand, enjoy elegant oceanfront dining in a charming colonial house at Tamarind House Restaurant. Learn more about each eatery in the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Rarotonga.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© Alisha Street - Cook Islands Tourism

Day 5 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki

Check out of your lavish villa today, take an airport transfer and then check in for your flight at the domestic terminal of Rarotonga Airport. It’s time to fly to your next exciting Cook Islands destination, Aitutaki – see our Aitutaki Transport Guide for more details about getting there.

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

Aitutaki Luxury Accommodations

Discover more about each indulgent stay in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations on Aitutaki.

Dining Recommendations

All of the accommodations mentioned above have a restaurant that makes your first meal on Aitutaki effortless and indulgent, while Aitutaki Escape has its private dining experience on its “helicopter pad” well worth booking for your first night. Otherwise, check out The Food Guide to Aitutaki: Places to Eat & Food Tours for alternatives.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 6 – Private Tour of the Aitutaki Lagoon

Today is the day you explore one of the world’s most breathtaking lagoons! For a luxury holiday, there’s no other way to experience the snorkelling spots and uninhabited islands than taking a private charter. Platinum Cruising offers the most luxurious boat for your journey to the infamous One Foot Island. Alternatively, we highly recommend Kutekute Tours & Transfers‘ private sunset charter with a sunset picnic on an uninhabited island.

Find out more about the best cruises in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki and 5 Best Luxury Experiences on Aitutaki.

Dining Recommendations

If you’re taking the sunset cruise this evening, head to Ootu Beach for lunch where you’ll find the Koru Cafe and its unmissable “Mega Mezze” platter. Alternatively, you might like to try the casual alfresco ambience of the Avatea Cafe in Tautu along with its contemporary island dishes. Compare the cafes further in the 9 Best Cafes & Takeaways on Aitutaki. If you need dinner plans, on the other hand, take Koru Cafe up on the offer to have a “BBQ Pack” delivered to your accommodation to spruce up your own Aitutaki barbie!

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© Craig Owen - Cook Islands Tourism

Days 7-8 – Relax in Aitutaki

You have two days to unwind among the white sands and turquoise waters of Aitutaki. Like on Rarotonga, Aitutaki’s luxury accommodations offer some irresistible ways to relax, with spa treatments at resort spas or on the deck of your villa. See the 5 Best Spas in Aitutaki for more details. Otherwise, your accommodation’s kayak and SUP rentals, beach hammocks and more will surely keep you out of trouble…

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for more adventure, such as kitesurfing at Honeymoon Island, whale swimming or scuba diving, then head to the 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki to be inspired for alternative activities during these two days.

Dining Recommendations

Experience fine dining and five-star service at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki‘s Rapae Bay Restaurant. Elevated over the beach and gazing across the lagoon on the sunset coast, Rapae Bay offers the ideal setting for a more sophisticated evening with a menu to match. Another glorious resort restaurant experience awaits on the private island of Akitua. Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill is part of the adults-only Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort with perfectly-presented plates of Polynesian-style cuisine.

Find out more about these restaurants in The Best Places to Eat on Aitutaki: 10 Best Restaurants on Aitutaki.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 9 – Fly to Rarotonga + Luxury Self-Drive Tour

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.

Arrange yourself for a luxury car rental, such as a Mini Cooper convertible, VW Beetle, Mazda Axela, BMW Z3 or whatever is your style, to be waiting for you on arrival at the airport – see the 7 Best Car Rentals in Rarotonga. Finally, throw your suitcases in the boot/trunk and hit the road in style. 

Head into town to enjoy a spot of shopping at the black pearl jewellers, fashion outlets and especially the Punanga Nui Market if it’s a Saturday morning. Then continue around the island clockwise, checking out the historical sites of the Matavera backroads, stopping by the shores of Muri Beach, going for a paddle and a bite to eat at Charlie’s Cafe & Beach Hire and so on. We have a full itinerary you can follow in A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga.

Once you’re done with your day, check in at your next premium accommodation…

Accommodation Recommendations on Rarotonga

For your final night in the Cook Islands, we recommend one of the following resorts:

Get details on all of the above in the 20 Best Resorts on Rarotonga.

Dining Recommendations

Why did we recommend these particular resorts? For your final night on Rarotonga, these accommodations can arrange an exclusive private dining experience on the beach. Indulge in fine dining plates at a secluded location where you’ll have a private butler and a beautifully decorated venue. It’s just one of the glorious 8 Best Luxury Experiences on Rarotonga.

Rarotonga & Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days 💎© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Day 10 – Souvenir Shopping + Departure

Enjoy your final lazy breakfast by the beach before checking out of your accommodation. Take your rental car to Avarua where you can have one final cheeky browse at the black pearls, rito fans, local art and more. See The Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for ideas. Then, drop off your rental car at Rarotonga International Airport and begin the check-in process for your departure flight.

Remember to arrive at Rarotonga 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. Rarotonga International Airport’s duty-free stores are worth the time for a peruse, with local floral or shell ‘eis (necklaces), wooden carvings, perfumes, ukuleles, coffee beans and more. Check out the 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for shopping inspiration.

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

Alternative Cook Islands 10-Day Itineraries

Is this 10-day luxury 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 luxury itinerary, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Luxury Guide to the Cook Islands.

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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