The Best Scenic Flights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands©
The Best Scenic Flights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands

The Best Scenic Flights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands


The Guide to Scenic Flights and Plane Tours in the Cook Islands

One of the most striking scenes you’ll see when visiting Rarotonga is the lush green island and surrounding turquoise lagoon jutting out of the deep blue Pacific Ocean. But when you land on your international flight, it’s all over so quickly! Revel in the scenery some more, while also getting a closer aerial view of the dramatic landscape, by taking a scenic flight. We go over all of your options for scenic flights in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands (hint: there’s only one), as well as plane tour alternatives in the guide below.

5 Most Scenic Flight Landings in the Cook Islands

Before we get into Rarotonga’s one and only scenic flight, how about checking out the islands in the Cook Islands with the most scenic flight landings?

  1. Aitutaki – Ask to sit on the left side of the plane for the best lagoon views
  2. Rarotonga – The right side of the plane has the best views of the island when landing
  3. Manihiki – The lagoon of this less-visited island offers a spectacular view
  4. Mangaia – The rings of terraced coral limestone on this ancient island is best seen from above
  5. Atiu – Catch a flight from Aitutaki to get a rare glimpse of Manuae lagoon on your way to Atiu.

Learn more about inter-island flights in Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands: Your Guide to Interisland Flights as well as more about each island in What are the 15 Islands in the Cook Islands?

The Best Scenic Flights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

Scenic Flight with Air Rarotonga

Location: Rarotonga
: 30 minutes
Minimum number of people: 2
Maximum number of people: 3
Price: Approximately NZ$130-$150 per person

Air Rarotonga‘s only scenic flight is a 30-minute flight circling Rarotonga. Departing from Rarotonga Airport, the flight is in a high-wing Cessna craft that sits a maximum of three passengers but requires a minimum of two for the tour to go ahead.

The scenic flight of Rarotonga gives you a wonderful birds-eye perspective of inland valleys and plantations, the towering volcanic peaks of the island’s interior, as well as the encircling turquoise lagoon and its four “motu” (islets).

Throughout the experience, you’ll receive commentary from your pilot about what you’re seeing through the headset provided. The high wings of the aircraft also mean that you have uninterrupted views the whole time – ideal for taking photos.

The Best Scenic Flights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands©

Other Plane Tours in the Cook Islands

While there may not be any other “scenic flights” available in the Cook Islands, there are interisland tours run by Air Rarotonga and Island Hopper Vacations (in conjunction with Air Rarotonga) which include flights that just happen to be “scenic”.

Aitutaki Day Tour

Operated by Air Rarotonga, the Aitutaki Day Tour is a complete island package from Rarotonga including return flights, a six-hour lagoon cruise with The Vaka Cruise (see the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki), a barbecue lunch on the boat, as well as transfers both on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. It couldn’t be easier!

Aitutaki by Private Jet

Private jet packages are available from Rarotonga Airport with Island Hopper Vacations. Fly from Rarotonga to Aitutaki on a private jet for up to seven passengers. The day tour includes a private island tour and lagoon cruise, while the overnight tour also includes a stay at the five-star Pacific Resort Aitutaki. Itineraries are customisable to include fishing or whale watching in the season.

Mitiaro by Private Jet

Private jet packages are also available from Rarotonga Airport to Mitiaro with Island Hopper Vacations. The package includes return flights in a private jet, a guide to accompany you throughout, airport transfers, one night at the Divine Retreat, a private guided island tour, all meals and a crafting demonstration.

Atiu 2 Night Getaway

Air Rarotonga‘s Atiu 2 Night Getaway is a flight and accommodation package for – you guessed it – two nights on the island of Atiu. Your stay will be at Atiu Villas.

Southern Group Adventure Package

The Southern Group Adventure Package with Island Hopper Vacations is a tour of the Southern Group’s lesser-visited islands: Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro and Atiu. It includes round-trip flights, two nights on each island, as well as all meals, a tour guide and more.

Trailblazers of the Northern Atolls

The Northern Group tour from Island Hopper Vacations takes you on a journey to Pukapuka, Manihiki and Penrhyn over five days. The journey is in a jet exclusively for the tour. It includes round-trip flights, all accommodation, as well as all meals, a tour guide and more.

More About Scenic Flights in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

That’s it for our complete guide to scenic flights in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. For more information about taking flights in the Cook Islands, check out our other guides:

Finally, plan more experiences across the Cook Islands using the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.


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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