What to Do on a Sunday in the Cook Islands
The buzz of Rarotonga comes to a standstill on a Sunday afternoon after morning church. What’s going on? As the Cook Islands is predominantly a Christian country, Sunday is observed as a day of rest; a day to relax with friends and family. While many businesses close on a Sunday, that doesn’t mean that your Raro or Aitutaki holiday has to come to a halt! There are still some spectacular things to do in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands on a Sunday. Check them out in the list below!
Otherwise, we have plenty more ideas listed in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.
1. Head to Church
Do what you can only do on a Sunday; experience the powerful harmonies echoing across the churches of the Cook Islands on a Sunday! Don your most church-appropriate attire (cover knees and shoulders) and head to one of the churches in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and beyond. Services typically start at 10am. All of the churches are very welcoming to visitors, so check out some that we recommend in the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: See the link above for locations.
2. Visit the Mairie Nui Gardens
Yes, the seven acres of botanical paradise that is the Mairie Nui Gardens are open on a Sunday. These gorgeous tropical gardens just outside of Muri provide a stunning environment between the lily ponds, intriguing plants and a backdrop of the dramatic mountain landscape. With just a donation for entry, we also class this as one of the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in the Cook Islands.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka (south side of Rarotonga).
3. Check Out the Te Ara Museum
We were surprised too but this museum on Rarotonga is, indeed, open on a Sunday coupling as an excellent rainy day activity. Te Ara Museum features grand exhibitions about the early Polynesian navigators who made it to the Cook Islands and traces back their journey across the world. You will also learn about European influence, as well as see displays on the present and future of the Cook Islands. Stick around for light refreshments at the cafe and browse the 100% locally made gifts at the shop. The museum is open from 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Check out more museums to visit throughout the week in the 5 Best Museums in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (east side of Rarotonga).
4. Grab a Bite to Eat
Sunday is a day to feast, which you can still do in the Cook Islands even if you don’t have your own oven! Sunday in the Muri Night Market on Rarotonga where the island’s food trucks come together from 5pm. Additionally, The Village Eatery and Rimu’s Bakery Takeaway are other places to try out for Sunday lunch on Rarotonga. Admittedly, dining options become a little trickier on the outer islands, but the resorts on Aitutaki and your hosts on any one of the other “pa enua” will make sure you’re well-fed.
Location: Muri Night Market – Muri town centre, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Rarotonga. Village Eatery – Main Road (Ara Tapu) opposite Wigmore’s Superstore, Vaimaanga, Rarotonga. Rima’s Bakery Takeaway – Muri town centre, Main Road (Ara Tapu) near the Te Ara Museum, Rarotonga.
5. Take a Tiki Tour Around the Island
Sunday is a good day to start hitting those dots on the map, such as historical sites and glorious beaches. There are plenty of free sites to visit across the islands of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro and beyond. Car and scooter rental operators are typically open on a Sunday, while you’ll be able to refuel at Wigmore’s Superstore and Super Brown on Rarotonga (but not on the outer islands) – or skip the refuelling altogether with the 5 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Renting a Car in the Cook Islands. Check out some of our self-drive guides for each of the islands in our Day Trips category.
Location: All over the Cook Islands!
6. Sail the Aitutaki Lagoon
That’s right, the guys from Sailing Aitutaki are open on a Sunday! Jump on one of their private lagoon excursions on their 17ft Hobie catamaran, the most eco-friendly way to explore the lagoon. The relaxed three-hour tour takes you to a motu (island), allows you to try sailing for yourself, stops for snorkelling, and includes light refreshments. Learn more about it in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.
Location: Tours depart from Ootu Beach but transfers are included, Aitutaki.
7. Hit the Hiking Trails
No one is stopping you from hitting the epic hiking trails of Rarotonga and Aitutaki on a Sunday. Sunday could be the day you finally do the Cross-Island Trek on Rarotonga or climb up to the top of Maunga Pu on Aitutaki! Check out some awesome trails to walk, lasting from less than an hour to half a day, in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in the Cook Islands.
Location: See the link above for locations.
8. Cruise the Muri Lagoon
Lagoon cruises on a Sunday?! That’s right, Koka Lagoon Cruises does, indeed, operate on a Sunday, giving you an awesome half-day on the Muri Lagoon. The cruise from Muri Beach includes snorkelling at the Tikioki Marine Reserve where you’ll be free to swim among the giant clams, angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish and much more. After snorkelling, the cruise on the glass-bottom boat crosses the Muri Lagoon to the uninhabited Motu Koromiri for a barbecue lunch combined with a fun yet informative coconut and sarong-tying show. The ukulele band entertains throughout the experience. Check out reviews and book your tour with Koka Lagoon Cruises on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see how the cruise compares to the 10 Best Day Cruises in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Tours depart from Muri Beach, Rarotonga.
9. Check Out the Art Box
Although the other art galleries of Rarotonga are closed on a Sunday, the 24/7 Art Box on the back roads of Rarotonga is a welcome sight! This little gallery is set inside a shipping container displaying all sorts of colourful paintings on canvas and wood. The artist that owns The Art Box, Ari, isn’t always there but you are free to peruse and use the honesty box should you want to purchase anything. Throughout the rest of the week, check out the other galleries listed in the 5 Best Art Galleries in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: The big white “Art Box” sign is easy to spot along the main road (Ara Tapu) in Arorangi (west side of Rarotonga).
10. Relax at Your Resort
While the rest of the Cook Islands might be relatively sleepy on a Sunday, you can always rely on your resort for Sunday relaxation. Drink cocktails by the pool, head down to the beach or find yourself a hammock and read a good book. Sunday is a “day of rest”, after all. Check out some awesome resorts to relax at in The Top 50 Resorts in the Cook Islands.
Location: All over the Cook Islands! Check out the link above for recommendations.
More About Sundays in the Cook Islands
Now that you know about the things to do on a Sunday in the Cook Islands, what else do you need to know about Sundays in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands? Check out the guides below for more tips:
- Cook Islands Travel Tips: 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- Cook Islander Etiquette: Rarotonga & Cook Islands Customs & Traditions
- The Guide to the Religions in the Cook Islands
Finally, anything that you’re missing from your trip-planning story will be covered in The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.