What is the Weather Like in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands in March?
March is a month in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands’ summer season, also known as the wet season. In fact, March is one of the hottest months of the year and sometimes even the wettest. While cyclones are still a risk (albeit a small risk), the risk is not as prominent as in the two previous months. Nevertheless, those still seeking sun between the showers are still likely to find it along with the rewarding experience of travelling the Cook Islands during the tourist low season. Check out the typical weather, including temperature, rainfall and more, in this guide to the Cook Islands weather in March.
Before we jump into this weather guide for March, be sure to bookmark Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate, as well as The Best Time to Visit Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for more advice.
5 Tips for Visiting the Cook Islands in March
- March falls in the tourist low season, so look out for great deals on flights and accommodation
- Wear high-factor sunscreen to protect yourself from the high UV levels experienced in the Cook Islands during March
- Because it’s the wet season, there are a few more mosquitoes about. Make sure you pack insect repellent and follow our tips in 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in the Cook Islands
- Want to avoid the rain as much as possible during the wet season? Consider heading to Aitutaki or Mitiaro where the climate is drier
- It is true that the Cook Islands can get really hot and humid in March. Don’t worry, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the water during the day, while most accommodations are equipped with air conditioning systems or ceiling fans for pleasant nights.
Typical Temperatures in March
Being part of Rarotonga and the Cook Islands’ summer season, March is one of the warmest months of the year. Temperatures in March reach 29°C / 84°F on average, while the lowest temperatures are often around 23°C / 74°F. It’s also known to be extremely humid in March – a truly tropical experience!
Temperatures Across the Cook Islands
- Rarotonga – The average maximum temperature is 29°C / 84°F and the minimum average temperature is 23°C / 73°F
- Aitutaki – The average maximum temperature is 30°C / 86°F and the minimum average temperature is 24°C / 75°F
- Mangaia – The average maximum temperature is 29°C / 84°F and the minimum average temperature is 23°C / 74°F
- Mitiaro – The average maximum temperature is 30°C / 86°F and the minimum average temperature is 24°C / 75°F
- Manihiki (North) – The average maximum temperature is 31°C / 89°F and the minimum average temperature is 25°C / 77°F
- Penrhyn (North) – The average maximum temperature is 31°C / 89°F and the minimum average temperature is 25°C / 77°F.
Sea Temperature in March
Although the Cook Islands’ tropical waters are warm year-round, March is one of the months when sea temperatures are at their highest. Sea temperatures in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are at an average of 28°C / 83°F in March.
Hours of Sun in March
Compared to January and February, the Cook Islands’ days start to get a little shorter – from 13 daylight hours per day to 12 daylight hours. As for sunshine hours, expect around 5.6 hours of bright sunshine a day; much sunnier than in the dry season!
UV Levels During March
UV levels are at their highest in the Cook Islands throughout March with levels being 11+ UV index around midday. Be sure to wear high-factor sunscreen! For advice on what sunscreen to wear, that’s safe for you and the reefs, see The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips.
Sunrise and Sunset During March
March has daylight hours lasting about 12 hours a day in the Cook Islands.
- Sunrise: 6.36 am at the beginning of March and 6.46 am at the end of March
- Sunset: 7.06 pm at the beginning of March and 6.40 pm at the end of March.
Rainfall in March
Sure, March is one of the wettest months to be in the Cook Islands, but showers are often short and heavy – often described as “liquid sunshine”. Typically, the islands of Mangaia and Mitiaro get slightly less rain than Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Northern Group, so try your chances on these off-the-beaten-track islands for keeping your rainy days to a minimum.
The Cook Islands receives an average of 220 mm / 8.7″ of rainfall in the month of March, with around 17 days out of March experiencing rain.
Average Rainfall Across the Cook Islands
- Rarotonga – The average rainfall in March is 220 mm / 8.7″
- Aitutaki – The average rainfall in March is 214 mm / 8.4″
- Mangaia – The average rainfall in March is 177 mm / 7″
- Mitiaro – The average rainfall in March is 146 mm / 5.7″
- Manihiki (North) – The average rainfall in March is 220 mm / 8.7″
- Penrhyn (North) – The average rainfall in March is 263 mm / 10.4″.
Tropical Storms in March
The South Pacific cyclone season starts in November and ends in April, making March a month with a higher risk of tropical storms. On average, less than 1 day in March in the Cook Islands (more specifically, Rarotonga) is affected by tropical storms. Tropical storms are more likely to affect the islands of the Northern Group.
Historically, the Cook Islands (including the Northern Group) was affected by a tropical cyclone in March 1846, 1866, 1867, 1869, 1905, 1926, 1943, 1961 and 1963. There has been no cyclone in recent history that has severely impacted the Cook Islands during March.
If you want to avoid the risk of cyclones in the Cook Islands, it’s best to travel in the dry season. For those planning to travel during March, however, it’s a good idea to become familiar with cyclone protocol, as outlined in our guide, Cyclone Safety in the Cook Islands.
Best Places to Visit in the Cook Islands in March
Visiting Rarotonga and the Cook Islands in March means visiting the islands during their quietest time in terms of tourist numbers. Enjoy island resorts and boutique accommodations during those glorious times when they are not at full capacity.
Rarotonga – March is a good time to visit the ever-popular Rarotonga. It’s less rainy than previous months yet the tourist numbers aren’t quite as high as in the dry season. Make the most of Rarotonga during its quiet time. If it does rain, however, you have more rainy day options than on other islands. Find out more about the main island in the 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga.
Mangaia – The southernmost island of the Cook Islands is fast becoming a popular island to visit thanks to its amazing deep caves, coral cliffs and historic burial chambres and churches. What’s more, it’s one of the islands with the least rainfall in the Cooks, making it ideal to visit in March. See what Mangaia is all about in the 15 Best Things to Do in Mangaia.
Mitiaro – The island in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands with the least rainfall, Mitiaro offers a drier climate in March than other destinations in the Cooks. If it’s too hot, you can always cool down in the refreshing cave pools on this raised coral atoll. Find out more in the 15 Best Things to Do in Mitiaro.
March Packing List for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Be prepared for the Cook Islands in March by packing these few seasonal essentials:
- High-factor sunscreen (that’s reef-safe too)
- Mosquito repellent
- Light rain jacket
- Light and airy cotton layers
- Light long-sleeved tops (to cover from sun and mosquitoes)
- Light pants/trousers (to cover the knees when appropriate – church service or to protect from mosquitoes, for example)
- Closed walking shoes
- Sarong (pāreu – available to purchase on Rarotonga if you don’t have your own)
Get more ideas on what to pack with our guide, What to Pack for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Cook Islands Packing List.
More About the Weather in Rarotonga and Cook Islands in March
That’s it for our complete guide to the weather and climate in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands in March. Check out the following articles for more weather advice:
- Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate + Cook Islands Weather by Month
- The Best Time to Visit Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: A Month by Month Guide
- Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather in January
- Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather in February
- Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather in April
Finally, enjoy a comprehensive guide to planning a trip to the Cook Islands in The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.