The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]
The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]

© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Where to Stay in the Cook Islands

Scattered far and wide across the South Pacific, the archipelago of the Cook Islands might be made up of 15 islands but most only know of a couple. Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the hotspots on almost every traveller’s lips when thinking about a getaway to these pieces of tropical – yet vastly different – paradises. One is a large volcanic island fringed with sandy shores and a lagoon, while the other is mostly a vast turquoise lagoon. Both have a wealth of breathtaking holiday experiences in the form of gorgeous resorts, lavish villas and private holiday homes. We go through some favourites in this guide to the best Cook Islands accommodations.

But what about the other islands? Although less-visited, they are no less exceptional and are totally different again, with the rocky uplifted coral atolls of the Southern Group and the pristine lagoons of the Northern Group where life is lived as it always has. Intrigued? We also go through the best accommodations and where to stay on these less visited islands of the Cook Islands.

The Top 10 Accommodations in the Cook Islands

Before we dive into this complete guide on where to stay in the Cook Islands, we thought you’d find it helpful for us to list our top 10 Cook Islands accommodations and where to find them.

  1. Magic Reef Beach Bungalows Rarotonga
  2. Etu Moana Boutique Beachfront VillasAitutaki
  3. Pacific Resort Rarotonga – Rarotonga
  4. Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort – Aitutaki
  5. Muri Beachcomber – Rarotonga
  6. Atiu Villas Atiu
  7. Babe’s PlaceMangaia
  8. Tiare CottagesMauke
  9. Divine RetreatMitiaro
  10. Manihiki Lagoon VillasManihiki

The list continues in The Top 50 Resorts in the Cook Islands!

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Where to Stay: Rarotonga

The largest and most populated island in the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is usually the go-to island for first-time visitors. It has the widest range of holiday accommodations, most of which are on the palm-fringed beaches, while a limited few are on the back hills of the island among verdant gardens and volcanic mountains.

The biggest appeal of staying on Rarotonga is that it has all of the tours, activities, restaurants, transport and more to make a tropical getaway effortless. There’s enough to do as much or as little as you like, as the case may be. And at a size of 67.39km² (26.02mi²), nothing is ever too far away on Rarotonga.

So whether you’re keen for a snorkel in safe lagoon waters, fancy a fun lagoon cruise, want to immerse in the culture with an “island night” and try delectable cuisine in styles from all over the world, Raro is the place to be for your first time to the Cook Islands.

Learn more about what Raro is all about with The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga and the 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga.

The Best Resorts & Hotels on Rarotonga

Intrigued? Discover much more about these resorts in the 20 Best Resorts on Rarotonga and 10 Best Hotels in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

The Best Adults-Only Resorts on Rarotonga

Want to know more? Head to our complete 10 Best Adults-Only Resorts on Rarotonga!

The Best Family-Friendly Accommodations on Rarotonga

Learn about these stays and much more in the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga.

The Best Boutique Villas on Rarotonga

And that’s just the beginning… Check out more in the 10 Best Boutique Resorts on Rarotonga and 20 Best Villas on Rarotonga.

The Best Holiday Homes on Rarotonga

Want your own piece of Raro paradise? Check out the 20 Best Holiday Homes in Rarotonga! You might also like the 25 Best Villas with a Private Pool in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

The Best Budget Accommodations on Rarotonga

Get more cheap stays from the 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Rarotonga.

The Best Side of Rarotonga to Stay

Where on the island should you stay on Rarotonga? Rarotonga’s main hotspots are Muri Beach on the east side, Arorangi on the west side and Avarua on the northern coast. Luckily we have a full guide all about the best places to stay on the island. Check it out: Where to Stay on Rarotonga: The BEST Rarotonga Accommodations.

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Where to Stay: Aitutaki

Described as “the world’s most beautiful lagoon”, Aitutaki is the perfect atoll with a vast vibrant lagoon surrounded by tiny motu (islets) and one larger island. It’s paradise. And, it’s got a whole range of styles of accommodations so you can stay for longer…

The main attraction in Aitutaki is the lagoon itself, a hotspot for snorkelling, sightseeing and kitesurfing, where many operators are available to show you around. In between the excitement, you’re downtime on this island, which is much more laidback than Rarotonga (if you’d think that’s possible), can be spent at your chosen five-star resort, boutique bungalow on the beach, or even a guesthouse in one of the villages.

See if Aitutaki is your thing by checking out The Complete Travel Guide to Aitutaki, as well as the 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki.

The Best Resorts on Aitutaki

Discover more about these breathtaking resorts in the 10 Best Resorts on Aitutaki.

The Best Boutique Villas/Bungalows on Aitutaki

Learn more about these stunning stays in the 10 Best Boutique Resorts on Aitutaki and 10 Best Villas on Aitutaki.

The Best Mid-Range Accommodations on Aitutaki

More on these accommodations can be found in the 10 Best Family Accommodations on Aitutaki and 5 Best Motels on Aitutaki.

The Best Budget Accommodations on Aitutaki

Find out more about these more affordable stays in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Aitutaki.

The Best Holiday Homes on Aitutaki

And more details on these private pieces of paradise can be found in the 5 Best Holiday Homes on Aitutaki.

The Best Side of Aitutaki to Stay

Accommodations on Aitutaki are split between Ootu Beach, stretching down the Sunset Coast, as well as between Amuri and Arutanga. Hell, you can even stay on a private island for a night or two! Find out more about the best places to stay on Aitutaki along with more accommodations to choose from in Where to Stay on Aitutaki: The BEST Aitutaki Accommodations.

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

Where to Stay: Southern Group

Not many people know this, but Rarotonga and Aitutaki are both in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands – and they are just two of nine islands in this island group! That means that there are more islands to explore just a short flight away from Rarotonga. Although these outer islands are much less visited, there are places to stay on a few of them, which is ideal because they are very different from Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro are uplifted coral atolls made up of rocky ancient coral fossils, otherwise known as “makatea”, which make the islands look inhospitable from afar! But between the makatea are secluded beaches, while inside are glorious caves topped with rainforests and small villages of friendly locals. If you’re looking for more of an “adventure” holiday than a “relaxation” holiday, then set your sights on these southern islands.

Mangaia Accommodation

Mangaia is the oldest island in the Cook Islands and one of the oldest in the South Pacific. It has a couple of places to stay:

  • Babe’s Place – Cheap accommodation with all meals included
  • Mangaia Villas – Modern waterfront self-contained villas.

Find out more about these stays in our guide, Where to Stay on Mangaia: The Best Mangaia Accommodations. Oh, and you can learn more about visiting in The Complete Travel Guide to Mangaia.

Atiu Accommodations

Atiu is an eco-paradise famous for its birdwatching, secluded beaches and caves. It also has one of the best places to stay outside of Rarotonga and Aitutaki:

  • Atiu Villas – Attractive garden villas with pool and restaurant
  • Atiu Kopeka Lodge – Holiday home-style accommodation.

Discover more about these accommodations in our guide, Where to Stay on Atiu: The Best Atiu Accommodations and more about the island in The Complete Travel Guide to Atiu.

Mauke Accommodations

An interesting village church, the largest banyan tree in the South Pacific, caves with swimming pools and secluded beaches are the attractions that entice travellers to visit Mauke. This is where you can stay:

  • Tiare Cottages – Budget units and a clifftop cottage
  • Ri’s Retreat – Self-contained bungalows among gardens.

Get more details in our guide, Where to Stay on Mauke: The Best Mauke Accommodations, as well as how to visit in The Complete Travel Guide to Mauke.

Mitiaro Accommodations

Experience a more “locals” stay on Mitiaro with guesthouses and homestays to stay in between swimming in caves and exploring serene beaches. Choose from:

  • Divine Retreat – Modern guesthouse with private rooms
  • Nukuroa Guesthouse – Private rooms or a holiday home
  • Nane’s Homestay – Communal guest room with all meals included
  • Vivian’s Homestay – Traditional huts and concrete units in the garden.

Find out more about these abodes in our guide, Where to Stay on Mitiaro: The 4 Best Mitiaro Accommodations, as well as how to visit the island in The Complete Travel Guide to Mitiaro.

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]© Daniel Fisher - Cook Islands Tourism

Where to Stay: Northern Group

Sparsely scattered, the Northern Group consists of six islands that are, in fact, closer to their South Pacific cousins of Tokelau, Samoa and Kiribati than they are to the Southern Group of the Cook Islands. As a result, the Northern Cook Islands all have their own distinct cultures and even their own language in one case.

Due to their remoteness, the islands of the Northern Group are rarely visited by tourists in comparison to the Southern Group. But for the lucky few that make it to these gorgeous atolls, there are guesthouses set aside for visitors, particularly on the islands of Manihiki, Penrhyn and Pukapuka. Otherwise, accommodation can be organised with local families in the form of homestays – more details on how to organise homestays can be found in The Best Homestays in the Cook Islands.

Northern Cook Islands Accommodations

  • Penrhyn Guesthouse – Private rooms with shared facilities and all meals included
  • Manihiki Lagoon Villas – Self-contained overwater bungalows with meals included
  • Pukapuka Guesthouse – Four guest rooms with communal facilities and cold water.

Learn more about each accommodation, as well as alternatives, in each island’s respective travel guides: The Complete Travel Guide to PenrhynThe Complete Travel Guide to Manihiki and The Complete Travel Guide to Pukapuka.

The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay [2022]© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

The Best Accommodations in the Cook Islands: Accommodation Categories

By now, you’ve probably realised that the Cook Islands has accommodation appealing to all types of travellers and that here, at Cook Islands Pocket Guide, we’ve ranked them all! Browse Cook Islands accommodations by category using the following links:

More About Where to Stay in the Cook Islands + The Best Cook Islands Accommodations

Woah! Well done for making it this far in our guide to the best Cook Islands accommodations. By now, you probably have a good idea of where to stay in the Cook Islands, so plan the rest of your trip with these guides:

Finally, if you’re still unsure where to stay in the Cook Islands, compare the islands further in The Best Islands to Visit in 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 editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

Was this article useful?

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on twitter
Twitter

Recommended For You