Where to Paddle on a Stand-Up Paddleboard in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
With placid lagoons, gorgeous sandy coastline and a wealth of marine life to discover, the Cook Islands is a paradise for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Enjoy casual paddling from the shores of Rarotonga and Aitutaki or enhance the experience with a guided lagoon excursion, SUP yoga or nighttime paddling tour. We go through the best spots to paddle from shore, as well as SUP tour locations, in this guide to SUP in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.
Where to Hire Stand-Up Paddleboards
Apart from many beachfront accommodations that provide stand-up paddleboards to guests for free, there are SUP rentals available at most of the spots mentioned on this list of the best places to paddleboard in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands (apart from Aitutaki and Aroa Beach where rental is only available through resorts). Check out our full listing of rentals in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours & Hires in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
1. Muri Lagoon (Independent Paddleboarding), Rarotonga
One of the widest parts of the lagoon encircling Rarotonga, the Muri Lagoon is an awesome place to explore by stand-up paddleboard. If you’re not staying at one of the beachfront accommodations with SUP rentals included, hire your board and paddle from Captain Tama’s or KiteSUP and hit the tranquil waters to explore the four motu (islets) just offshore. Take some snorkelling gear and follow the inner reef between Motu Koromiri and Taakoka with some excellent wee snorkelling spots. You can even land on the beach of Koromiri and relax on the sand. What’s more, with Muri Beach just a short paddle from anywhere, the Muri Lagoon offers safe and easy paddling for all.
Location: Muri Beach, east side of Rarotonga.
2. Muri Lagoon (SUP Tours), Rarotonga
An alternative way to experience stand-up paddleboarding on the Muri Lagoon is with SUP tours! Enhance your paddleboarding experience by hitting the highlights on a two-hour lagoon paddle tour with KiteSUP. KiteSUP also offers SUP yoga classes and private tours, while both KiteSUP and Ariki Adventures offer an awesome nighttime paddling tour with LED lights fitted to your board for a more “illuminating” experience. There’s more to be said about these awesome paddleboarding tours, which we cover in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours & Hires in the Cook Islands.
Location: KiteSUP – Muri Beach, either along the main road at their shop or on the beach next to Koka Lagoon Cruises. Ariki Adventures – Night SUP tours depart from in front of the Muri Beach Club Hotel, Muri Beach, east side of Rarotonga.
3. Titikaveka, Rarotonga
A wide stretch of lagoon on the southeast corner of Rarotonga with no passages to navigate (unlike other parts of the south coast), the lagoon off the shores of Titikaveka offers safe stand-up paddleboarding. The paddling is particularly good in the deeper waters and marine reserve in front of Tikioki Beach towards the east end of Titikaveka. Take some snorkelling gear to enjoy watching the fish, starfish, giant clams and coral at this marine reserve, which you can find out more about in The Best Snorkelling in the Cook Islands: Top 10 Places to Snorkel. SUP hire is available from Charlie’s Cafe & Beach Hire.
Location: Titikaveka, southeast coast of Rarotonga.
4. Aroa Beach, Rarotonga
On the southwest corner of Rarotonga, Aroa Beach is an excellent place to paddle for its marine reserve and snorkelling opportunities. Again, take your snorkelling gear! Enjoy a short and relaxing paddle from shore and explore the coral heads (being careful not to paddle into them). Paddleboards are available to hire for guests at The Rarotongan and Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach. Otherwise, you’ll just have to bring your own.
Location: Aroa Beach, Arorangi, southwest side of Rarotonga.
5. Ootu Beach and Akitua, Aitutaki
Finally, you won’t miss out on the paddleboarding fun that Aitutaki has to offer. With an area of between 50 and 74km² (19 and 29 mi²) combined with elements such as strong winds, paddling across the Aitutaki Lagoon is not recommended. However, the best and safest place to stand-up paddleboard in Aitutaki is off the shores of Ootu Beach. You can paddle around the sandbank and island of Akitua (where the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort is located) with fish, rays and all sorts of interesting marine life to spot along the way. There’s a wide area to explore but it is not recommended to pass Motu Ee.
Location: Ootu Beach, at the end of the Ootu Peninsula on the east side of Aitutaki. Paddleboards are available to rent for guests of Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort, Ranginui’s Retreat, Etu Moana (they have a shipping container here) and Aitutaki Village.
More About SUP in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Now that you know about the best places for stand-up paddleboarding in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, check out more amazing watersports to try:
- Kayaking in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Top 5 Places to Kayak
- Kitesurfing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Kitesurf
- Windsurfing in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Windsurf
Finally, plan more experiences beyond watersports in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List, as well as the logistics of your whole trip using The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.