What You Need to Know About Mountain Biking in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands, particularly Rarotonga, famously has towering volcanic peaks and rugged terrain that, in theory, would make amazing mountain biking trails. As of yet, this terrain hasn’t been utilised for mountain biking. But not all hope is lost. The quiet inland road of Rarotonga and the coastal roads of the outer islands provide incredibly scenic journeys which are well worth exploring by bike. We go through all of the bike rentals, tours and other logistics that you need to prepare for exploring the Cook Islands by bike in this ultimate guide to mountain biking in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and beyond!
Are There Any Mountain Biking Trails in the Cook Islands?
Unfortunately for keen mountain bikers, there are no official mountain bike trails in the Cook Islands, including the more mountainous island of Rarotonga. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to go down a gear or two when it comes to adventure, the back roads of Rarotonga (and pretty much all of the roads of the outer islands) make for some fun cycling in paradise!
Guided Cycle Tours or Do it Yourself?
You have two options when it comes to cycling in Rarotonga: take a guided tour or do it yourself.
Of course, renting a bike and hitting the road is the far cheaper option at only around NZ$15-$25 a day for a pushbike (or free if it’s included in your accommodation) or NZ$35-$45 a day for an e-bike. You can ride completely at your own pace and independently should you not be feeling too social to be part of a tour group. And with the “Self-Guided Bike Trails” listed at the end of this article, we’ll point you in the direction of some neat routes.
On the other hand, guided cycle tours are well worth considering on Rarotonga – the only island with guided cycle tours – mainly because local guides can point out things on the side of the trail that you would easily miss if you were just cycling on your own. Guides work with local farmers to showcase local fruit and vegetables to try, as well as take you to the workshops of local craftspeople so you can see, for instance, how island ukuleles are made. More on the cycle tours of Rarotonga can be found in the section below.
Cycle Tours of Rarotonga
There are a couple of fantastic cycle tour operators on Rarotonga offering an alternative way to see the island. After a tour with these guys, needless to say, you’ll see Rarotonga in a whole new light.
Storytellers Eco Cycle & Walking Tours
Offering the most comprehensive range of bike tours in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours not only offers a fun cycling experience but a cultural journey. They have bikes for all ages, so there’s no excuse not to join them on their eco-adventures. The cycles tours with Storytellers include:
- Take-a-Peek – This is a mini-tour of the Storyteller offering, taking you on the flat back roads of Rarotonga. Join the 1h30mins tour on Thursday afternoons so you’ll be back by happy hour. Learn more about the tour on Viator and TripAdvisor.
- Discover – This three-hour tour is best suited to beginner cyclists and families as it takes you on the ancient coral road, Ara Metua, where you’ll hear about legends, taste local foods and meet amazing people on this tour of cultural discovery. An amazing Rarotongan lunch is included in the tour. The tour is available on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Learn more about the tour on Viator and TripAdvisor.
- Explore – This four-hour tour is for those looking for more of an adventure and are confident at cycling. Cycle past quaint villages, learn about the history along the old Ara Metua coral road, stop for tastings of local fruit and even go to Rarotonga’s “secret” waterfall. The tour includes lunch and is available on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Learn more about the tour on Viator and TripAdvisor.
Tik-ebikes & Tours
Cruise along the roads of Rarotonga with ease thanks to the e-bikes included in the Tik-ebikes & Tours private e-bike tour! Join your local knowledgeable guide for a journey across the island, tailor-made to suit your interests and fitness level. Your e-bikes have storage, so bring along your camera, sunscreen and beach towels! Water is provided and lunch is an optional extra. Tours are available for private groups of between two to four people.
Where to Hire a Bike in the Cook Islands
Prefer to ride the roads of Rarotonga yourself or perhaps you’re visiting the islands of Aitutaki, Atiu or Mauke and want to explore by bike? Bike hire is available from a mix of rental companies and accommodations.
Bicycle Rental in the Cook Islands
- Ride Rarotonga, Rarotonga – Main Road in Nikao, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm and Saturday from 9am to 12.30pm.
- Adventure Cook Islands, Rarotonga – Aroa Beach opposite The Rarotongan Resort. They are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm, Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.
- Tik-ebikes & Tours, Rarotonga – Open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4pm. Located opposite the Crown Beach Resort & Spa, Arorangi.
- Polynesian Rental Cars & Bikes, Rarotonga – They have locations in St Joseph Road Avarua, Maire Nui Drive Avarua, Club Raro Resort, Main Road Muri, Main Road Titikaveka, Main Road Aroa, Edgewater Resort & Spa and at Rarotonga International Airport. Opening hours are typically Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturday from 8am to 12pm.
- Rino’s Rentals, Aitutaki – Main Road between Amuri and Arutanga, open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturday from 8am to 12pm.
Find out more about these bicycle rental companies in our guide, Cycle Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes.
Accommodations with Bicycle Rental
- Muri Beachcomber, Rarotonga – Free pushbikes
- Ikurangi Retreat, Rarotonga – Free pushbikes and helmets
- Tropical Sands, Rarotonga – Free pushbikes
- Motu Beachfront Art Villas, Rarotonga – Free e-bikes
- Magic Reef Beachfront Bungalows, Rarotonga – Paid e-bike rental
- Kia Orana Villas and Spa, Rarotonga – Paid pushbike rental
- Matriki Beach Huts, Aitutaki – Free pushbikes
- Tamanu Beach Resort, Aitutaki – Free pushbikes
- Atiu Villas, Atiu – Free pushbikes
- Ri’s Retreat, Mauke – Free pushbikes.
Check out these places to stay in the 10 Accommodations in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands with Bike Hire.
Bringing Your Own Bike to Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
It is possible to bring your own bike to the Cook Islands with the airlines flying to Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. You will need to check your bike in as check-in luggage and pack your bike appropriately.
For checking in a bike on most flights to the Cook Islands, pack the bike in a bike box or bike bag. Bike boxes are available to purchase at airports, for example, bike boxes at the Auckland Airport are around NZ$25.
You don’t need to deflate the tyres but you do need to do the following:
- Remove the handlebars or turn them sideways
- Remove the pedals or turn them in
- Make sure the pressure of any nitrogen gas mountain bike struts is no more than 200kPa (kilopascal) or 29PSI (pounds per square inch)
- Make sure that any cartridges for inflating tyres are less than 50ml (1.6oz) and contain a non-flammable gas.
Remember to seal the box and label it with your name and phone number. It’s a good idea to place accessories in a bag within the bike box/bag.
On flights with the Cook Islands’ domestic carrier, you will need to get in touch with the airline prior to flying as there is limited space for excess luggage on these small planes. They will typically charge you the excess luggage fee for bikes, at around NZ$3.50 per kilogram.
Learn more about the ins and outs of flying to the Cook Islands in our guide, Getting Here: How to Get to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?, as well as domestic flights in Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands: Your Guide to Interisland Flights.
Self-Guided Bike Trails
There are no marked bike trails in the Cook Islands, but those with a map and a sense of adventure can experience the joys of exploring the Cook Islands on its quieter roads. We have listed some recommended routes in the 5 Best Bike Trails in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands, which are, in short:
- Club Raro Resort to Muri Beach via Ara Metua, Rarotonga – 7km/4.3 miles – 25-25mins without stops
- Black Rock to Aroa Beach via Ara Metua, Rarotonga – 6.5km/4 miles – 20-30mins without stops
- Southern Aitutaki Loop – 13.5km/8.4 miles – 40mins to 1 hour without stops
- West Coast of Atiu – 15km/9.3 miles – 45mins to 1h10mins without stops
- West coast of Mauke – 15km/9.3 miles – 45mins to 1h10mins without stops
Again, we go into much more detail in the 5 Best Bike Trails in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
More About Mountain Biking in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Now that you know how to organise the cycling portion of your visit to the Cook Islands thanks to this ultimate guide to mountain biking in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, plan the rest of your getaway, including accommodation, getting around and more things to do, using the following guides:
- Where to Stay in the Cook Islands: The Best Cook Islands Accommodations
- Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands
- 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.