What is There to Do in the Cook Islands in the Rain?
The Cook Islands is a tropical country. Therefore, rain may well be a part of your experience. Whether it’s just a passing shower or you’ve got one of those rarer drizzly days, this list of things to do in the Cook Islands on a rainy day will make sure the holiday fun never stops!
When Does it Rain in the Cook Islands?
Rain can happen at any time of the year in the Cook Islands, but the rainy season is between December and March. Learn more about the climate in our guide to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate + Weather by Month.
1. Stay Indoors at the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre
Not only an excellent rainy day activity with its indoor museum but a great place to stop for an extended lunch thanks to the cafe and ice cream parlour, the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre is a rainy-day must-do for nature lovers and families. The centre might be small but it’s packed with all sorts of interesting displays, from rehabilitated seabirds and coconut crabs to fascinating whaling and shipwreck artefacts. Browse the aquarium with its devilish stonefish and learn about how the Cook Islands were formed. See more experiences like this in the 40 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands with Kids.
Location: West Side of Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
2. Learn Something New at the Te Ara Museum
Another one of the many museums we’ll feature on this list of things to do in the Cook Islands on a rainy day, the Te Ara Museum makes for an affordable all-weather activity that will only take an hour or so. See grand exhibitions about the early Polynesian navigators who made it to Rarotonga and trace back their journey across the world, learn about European influence, and see displays on the present and future of the Cook Islands. You can stick around for light refreshments at the cafe and browse the 100% locally made gifts at the shop. The museum is open seven days a week from 9 am (10 am on weekends) until 4 pm. If you just want to skip to more museums, check out the 5 Best Museums in the Cook Islands.
Location: East side of Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
3. Unwind with a Spa Treatment
You’ll forget all about the rain while you’re immersing in a therapeutic massage or another island spa treatment. A selection of resorts on Rarotonga and Aitutaki specialise in spa treatments, from the Vichy Showers of the Waterfall Spa at Rumours Luxury Villas to the traditional practices of SpaPolynesia at Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island and The Rarotongan. There are far too many spas to list here, so take a look at the 10 Best Places to Get a Massage in the Cook Islands to find your perfect place to unwind.
Location: See spa locations in the link above.
4. Get Muddy on the Raro Buggy or Quad Tour
Wetter is better on off-roading tours with Raro Buggy Tours and Raro Quad Tours. Let loose in a self-driven off-roading vehicle, get muddy and explore the inland tracks of Rarotonga. The 1.5-2-hour buggy tour or 2.5-3-hour quad tour starts with a slow-paced yet interesting history tour as you get acquainted with the vehicle. Then you’ll head inland to plantations and dirt tracks including a stop at the Papua Waterfall (Wigmore’s Waterfall). Find out more about the excursion in the 5 Best Off-Road Tours in the Cook Islands.
Location: South side of Rarotonga. Departures are from Wigmore’s Superstore, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.
5. Go Shopping!
Many are surprised to find that the Cook Islands offers a wealth of shopping opportunities! That’s mainly because Cook Islanders specialise in many unique crafts, with a highlight being black pearls – only farmed in two countries in the South Pacific. Woven rito fans, earrings and locally-crafted perfumes are also highlights on the shopping list. So pick out some stores from The Guide to Shopping in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands and use a rainy day in the Cook Islands to visit them all!
Location: See shop recommendations and locations in the link above.
6. Hide in a Cave
A little-known thing to do in the Cook Islands, the islands of Atiu, Mangaia, Mitiaro and Mauke all have caves that will make you forget all about the rain. Find swimming pools at the base of semi-open caves on Mitiaro and Mauke or go on a guided hike through the caves on Mangaia. Of course, don’t go exploring too deep into any caves on your own, as you don’t know how the rain will affect the water level. But the cave pools we list in the 10 Best Caves in the Cook Islands are all pretty shallow, so you should be Ok there.
Location: Atiu, Mangaia, Mitiaro and Mauke. See the link above for cave locations.
7. Tour a Small-Scale Coffee Factory on Atiu
For those lucky enough to visit the island of Atiu, don’t fret if it’s a rainy day! There’s a delightful coffee tour on the island that will have you feeling warm and fuzzy in no time. Join Mata Arai from Atiu Island Coffee whose delightful coffee tour allows you to learn about the coffee bean growing process, what makes Atiu perfect for growing arabica beans and how to hand roast them. You’ll also discover the secret ingredient that makes Atiu’s coffee unique! The tour concludes with a taste of the good stuff along with yummy pikelets and coconut cream! Discover more experiences on Atiu in the 20 Best Things to Do on Atiu.
Location: Atiu. Mapumai, north of the Air Rarotonga office and south of Akai Bakery.
8. Tour and Taste Beer at the Rarotonga Brewery
Brewed on Rarotonga, Cook Islands Lager is the signature brew of the Rarotonga Brewery. Located across the road from the Edgewater Resort, the brewery is open Monday to Saturday for free beer tastings and from Monday to Friday for brewery tours. Enjoy a casual affair (all indoors) with a local brewer showing you how they make the good stuff, as well as the brews they’re currently working on. See more activities like this in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Cook Islands.
Location: West end of Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
9. Marvel at the Papua Waterfall
If there’s one time to visit the Papua Waterfall, also known as Wigmore’s Waterfall, it’s when it’s raining! The falls are at their best under heavy rain when the river level is high. Find the waterfall among the forest in a clearing with picnic tables just in case, you know, the weather clears up and you want to stick around for even longer. While swimming is usually popular in the bottom pool, it’s not recommended to swim if the water level is too high. Plus, avoid climbing the sides where rocks are known to fall. What you can do, however, is take some insect repellent with you. See more natural attractions like this in The Top 10 Natural Wonders in the Cook Islands.
Location: South end of Rarotonga. End of Papua Road, Vaimaanga. To drive up the road to the waterfall, you may be asked for a donation (around NZ$2 for bikes and NZ$5 for cars/trucks).
10. Pray the Rain Away at Sunday Church
Obviously, this is a rainy day activity in the Cook Islands that you can only enjoy on a Sunday. Nevertheless, if this applies to you, the powerful harmonies echoing across the churches on a Sunday is an experience not to be missed! Don your most church-appropriate attire (cover knees and shoulders) and head to one of the churches across the Cook Islands! For recommendations, check out the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: See the link above for locations.
11. Visit the Cook Islands National Museum
Another museum you can rely on for a break from the rain on Rarotonga, the Cook Islands National Museum holds an interesting display of historical and cultural artefacts and replicas. Browse carvings, seafaring vaka replicas and traditional tivaevae linen and learn more about their significance through the information text on the walls. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and has a small admission fee. There are more indoor attractions in the nation’s capital, Avarua, so check them out in the 10 Best Things to Do in Avarua.
Location: North end of Rarotonga. Sir Geoffrey Henry National Culture Centre, Corner of Constitution Avenue and Victoria Road, Avarua.
12. Check Out the Art Galleries + Do a Painting Workshop
The Cook Islands Maori culture and marine environment are the main inspiration for art across the Cook Islands. This makes for some breathtaking pieces to admire at the galleries of Rarotonga’s talented artists. Pop into the Bergman Gallery, Two Mamas Gallery, The Art Box and more while exploring the island. At The Little Red Gallery, you can even join one of their six-hour painting workshops to spend the whole day out of the rain! See what makes each gallery worth visiting in the 5 Best Art Galleries in the Cook Islands.
Location: Rarotonga. See the link above for locations.
13. Visit Pa Ariki’s Takitumu Palace Museum
Dive into the culture of the Cook Islands’ royal heritage at Pa Ariki’s Takitumu Palace Museum, the only palace on Rarotonga that is open to the public! The palace is that of the 48th Queen Pa Ariki whose line began in 1250 AD. The museum has various artefacts on display and traces back the history of the Cook Islands’ ariki. Guided tours of the museum are available at 10 am and 2 pm, while the museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.
Location: East side of Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avana (north of Muri).
14. Hop on a Lagoon Cruise in Aitutaki
We know, you’re probably looking at this list of things to do in the Cook Islands on a rainy day because you don’t want to do a lagoon cruise under the rain, but don’t give up on the idea just yet! Most lagoon cruises are on vessels that are weather-proofed with a roof and tarps that roll down the sides. Knowing the weather patterns, especially on the Aitutaki Lagoon, the sun will come out at some point throughout the day. The best cruises to choose for a rainy day include The Vaka Cruise and Bishop’s Cruises, as they have the largest and most comfortable weather-proofed boats but you can compare all of your options using the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.
Location: Aitutaki. Lagoon cruises include accommodation transfers.
15. Do Some Rainy Day Snorkelling
No one is above a rainy day snorkel! Since you’re going to get wet anyway, why not head out with your snorkelling gear and meet the fish? Free snorkelling sites include the “Fruits of Rarotonga” site at the Tikioki Marine Reserve and the Aroa Marine Reserve at Aroa Beach on Rarotonga, while “Base One” at the end of the old runway on Aitutaki is also a great little snorkelling spot. Check out all of the snorkelling spots in the Top 10 Places to Snorkel or join one of the guided tours listed in the 10 Best Snorkelling Tours in the Cook Islands.
Location: See the links above for locations.
16. Check Out the Giant Clams at the Marine Research Centre
Although only partially undercover, the rain shouldn’t ruin your visit to the Marine Research Centre in Aitutaki. See a giant clam nursery under the sail shades and learn about the conservation work done here from the site manager, Richard (usually available from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday). Entry is by donation; just pop some cash into the clam urn.
Location: Aitutaki. Follow the road to the northern tip of Aitutaki, around the lefthand side of the old airstrip and toward the golf course. The Marine Research Centre is signposted on the left-hand side before reaching the golf course.
17. Drink Your Sorrows Away at an Atiu Tumunu
A true cultural experience that unofficially welcomes you into the Atiu club, tumunu are rustic beer huts located on the outskirts of Atiu’s villages, usually on the edge of a forest or plantation. You’ll be sat on a tree stump under a shelter and passed around home-brewed orange beer (or “bush beer”). Some sessions are even accompanied by music played by a local string band. Either visit a tumunu independently (locations and opening hours are listed in The Food Guide to Atiu: Places to Eat & Food Tours) or join Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours for a fully guided experience with transfers and history storytelling included. Oh, and be warned, the tumunu bush beer is strong stuff!
Location: All over Atiu! Ask your accommodation or tour guides about the nearby tumunu or transfers are included on guided tours. Tumunu locations are also listed in the link above.
18. Get an Island-Style Shirt Made at Tuki’s Pareu
The big blue store of Tuki’s Pareu in Avarua is a good go-to for island-style attire. A rainy day, however, is the perfect time to finally get that island shirt made! That’s right, Tuki’s offers tailoring services where their experienced designers and seamstresses can whip up a perfectly fitted flamboyant shirt that will make you look the part for all of your South Pacific holidays. Find them open from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday and until 12 pm on Saturday.
Location: North end of Rarotonga. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Avarua, the blue buildings at the eastern end just past Trader Jacks.
19. Treat the Tastebuds to an Extended Brunch, Lunch or Dinner
While a pretty obvious thing to do on a rainy day, it can’t be denied that huddling under the shelter of a cafe or restaurant while gorging on island cuisine isn’t a bad way to spend an unfavourable weather day. Whatever your vibe and whatever your budget, Rarotonga and Aitutaki have the cafes and restaurants to suit. The list to too extensive to go through here, but you can check out recommendations in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands.
Location: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. See the link above for locations.
20. Rent a DVD (Yes, Really!)
That’s right, DVD rental stores are still a thing in the Cook Islands and a rainy-day saviour! Look out for the DVD rental shop sign on the main road between Amuri and Arutanga, Aitutaki, or on the main road in both Nikao and Vaimaanga on Rarotonga. Oh, and you’ll want to make sure your accommodation has a DVD player first, which many of them do! Check out which accommodations do at the end of the 15 Things to Do on Rarotonga on a Rainy Day and 10 Things to Do in Aitutaki on a Rainy Day.
Location: On Rarotonga, Nikao Cottages and Nikao Beach Video – Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao. DVD Shop – Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga. On Aitutaki, look out for the DVD shop sign on the roadside between Amuri and Arutanga.
More Things to Do in the Cook Islands on a Rainy Day
That’s it for our list of things to do in the Cook Islands on a rainy day, including indoor and all-weather activities. If that didn’t quite inspire you, then you might have more luck with these lists:
- 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga
- 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki
- 20 Best Things to Do on Atiu
- 15 Best Things to Do on Mangaia
- 15 Best Things to Do on Mauke
- 15 Best Things to Do on Mitiaro
- 10 Best Things to Do in the Northern Cook Islands
Finally, prepare yourself for more wet-weather days with the aid of our guides, The Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate and The Best Time to Visit the Cook Islands: A Month by Month Guide.