The Best After Dark Experiences in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
As the sun sets and the stars come out, the fun doesn’t stop in the Cook Islands. That’s especially on Rarotonga, home to (arguably) the most buzzing nightlife in the South Pacific! But it’s not all about partying in the Cook Islands, as night scuba diving, lagoon cruises under the stars and night markets are all things to experience after dark. Discover some of the best things to do in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands at night in this awesome list!
1. Paddle on the Muri Lagoon on a Night SUP Tour
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun thing to do in the Cook Islands no matter the hour, but at night with your SUP’s LED lights illuminating the lagoon waters beneath you… Oh boy! Both Ariki Adventures and KiteSUP offer wonderful night SUP tours on Rarotonga; Ariki Adventures focuses more on the nature of the uninhabited island they visit while KiteSUP includes a fire show on an island. Learn more about the SUP experiences in the 6 Best Paddleboard Tours & Hires in the Cook Islands.
2. Try Local Food and Watch a Cultural Show at an Island Night
A part of the Cook Islands culture that has survived through the ages is the energetic dancing of the island’s warriors and princesses. Watch talented dancers adorned in traditional costume at one of the Cook Islands’ cultural shows, otherwise known as “island nights”. The performance is not all there is to look forward to, however, as devouring plate after plate of all kinds of traditional Cook Islands dishes from the buffet is also a reason to join in. Rarotonga and Aitutaki‘s cultural shows can be found across various resorts and cultural centres, while the occasional island night also takes place on Atiu. See the 7 Best Island Nights in the Cook Islands to compare your options.
3. Experience Twilight Scuba Diving
As you may have seen from The Top 10 Places to Scuba Dive, the diving in the Cook Islands is pretty special with an array of underwater terrain and wonderous marine creatures to discover. For something a little different, however, try night diving! Both Pacific Divers and Dive Rarotonga offer night diving with all sorts of nocturnal creatures in the waters beneath you and the moon and stars above. Learn more about these dive operators in the 5 Best Dive Shops in the Cook Islands.
4. Jump On the Party Bus!
The nightlife is booming on Rarotonga and even on some of the outer islands! But anyone looking to party into the early hours with a group of fun travellers and locals better hop on the party bus. There are two to choose from: the Rehab Raro Pub Crawl and the Going Troppo Nightlife Tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Venture to all of the hottest bars and clubs around the island, then the bus will drop you back at your accommodation at the end of the night. Cocktail “happy hour” tours are also available on Rarotonga with Tik-ebikes & Tours, which you can learn more about in The Ultimate Guide to Rarotonga Nightlife.
5. Check Out Rarotonga’s Night Markets
Rarotonga loves a good night market and you will too once you discover the whirlwind of flavours and entertainment provided by these buzzing community events. The most famous night market is the Muri Night Market taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5pm. It’s the place on Rarotonga for cheap eats when the island’s food trucks gather together. Alternatively, the Arorangi Night Market is your opportunity to try good food and support local businesses on the west side of the island, taking place every other Friday night. Learn more about the markets in the 5 Best Markets in the Cook Islands.
6. Relax with a Sunset Cruise Including Twilight Snorkelling
And here you were thinking all the things to do in the Cook Islands at night were only happening on Rarotonga… Wait until you experience this nighttime activity on the Aitutaki Lagoon! Treat your partner, family or group to a late afternoon/evening excursion with Kutekute Island Tours & Transfers. Snorkel among beautiful coral, enjoy a relaxing float on a water hammock and indulge in a private sunset platter on the beach. You’ll only return to shore once the sun goes down and the stars come out! Alternatively, Teking Lagoon Tours offers a shorter sunset tour with a bottle of bubbles and a stop at Honeymoon Island. Compare the tours further in The Best Sunset Cruises in the Cook Islands.
7. Join the Locals for a Progressive Dinner Tour
Immerse in the flavours of the Cook Islands on the Progressive Dinner Tour. Join Cook Islands Tours as they transport you across the island for a three-course dinner with each course in a different local home. It’s your opportunity to sample the real flavours of Rarotonga and experience the generous hospitality of its locals. Intrigued? Learn more and book your progressive dinner on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see alternative food tours in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Cook Islands.
8. Hit the Bars, Clubs and “Tumunu”
We’ve already touched on the party buses, but the nightlife of the Cook Islands goes way beyond that! One of the biggest Pacific party islands, Rarotonga has a fun selection of bars and nightclubs to let your hair down. Hit the clubs in Avarua, such as Rehab, One the Rocks (OTR) and Luna or relax at a beach bar like Wilson’s Beach Bar or the Shipwreck Hut. Even the outer islands have their own unique drinking cultures, such as the “bush beer huts” called “tumunu” on Atiu and the bars on Mitiaro. Find out more about the Cook Islands’ vibrant nightlife in The Ultimate Guide to the Cook Islands Nightlife.
9. Stargaze at the Clear Night Sky
When night falls and the sky is clear, the universe puts on the most mesmerising show made all the clearer thanks to the Cook Islands’ limited light pollution. Head out on the beach or simply look up from your accommodation on a clear night and enjoy the display of the night’s sky. If you can time your visit between late April and late May, the Cook Islands capture amazing views of the Eta Aquariids meteor shower. See the 5 Best Spots for Stargazing in the Cook Islands for locations for stargazing.
10. Look for Coconut Crabs
That’s right, the world’s largest species of crab does, indeed, live in the Cook Islands. Unfortunately, they have been mostly eaten to extinction on the main islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki. But you may be lucky enough to spot one climbing coconut trees or scuttling across the roads at night on the outer islands. In fact, one of the best islands to go to for coconut crabs, locally known as “unga”, is the far-flung northern island of Rakahanga! See more amazing experiences in the remotest part of the Cook Islands in the 10 Best Things to Do in the Northern Cook Islands.
Location: Rakahanga. See The Complete Travel Guide to Rakahanga for more information.
More Things to Do in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands at Night
Now that you know some of the best things to do in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands at night, here’s more inspiration for your after-dark activities:
- 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Bars in the Cook Islands
- The Guide to Aitutaki Nightlife + 5 Things to Do on Aitutaki at Night
- The Ultimate Guide to Rarotonga Nightlife + Happy Hour List
Finally, spend some time doing some stuff in the daytime too with inspiration from the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.