The Top Family Activities on Rarotonga
We know how hard it is to get the family, time and finances together for an unforgettable holiday to Rarotonga. Let us make the rest easy for you, such as listing all of the best things to do on Rarotonga with kids! That’s right, we’ve picked a whopping 30 activities that kids love; all you have to do is pick your favourites. From guided lagoon tours to free inland experiences, we have family activities on Rarotonga to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
Before we dive in, be sure to bookmark The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga for Families and 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga to help plan more of your vacation.
1. Jump on a Lagoon Cruise
A fun day out for the whole family, the cruises on the Muri Lagoon are varied enough to seize even the shortest attention spans. Choose from either Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Koka Lagoon Cruises (on Viator and Tripadvisor), both offering ample snorkelling time, a larger-than-life crew and a show on the same uninhabited “motu” (literally, just down the beach from each other). Our advice? Go with the one that gives you the best deal on the day or compare in the 10 Best Day Cruises in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Muri Beach.
2. Head Out on a Family Kayaking Excursion
With so much sheltered lagoon to explore and the abundance of kayaks to enjoy, you can’t take the kids to Rarotonga and not do some kayaking. Kayaks are a staple of beachfront accommodations on Rarotonga, while kayak rentals are also available with Adventure Cook Islands, KiteSUP and Captain Tama Aquasportz. Ask your host for the best places to go from your chosen accommodation and don’t forget to take some snorkelling gear to enjoy the tropical marine life below.
Location: All over Rarotonga – See a comprehensive list of accommodations in Where to Stay on Rarotonga: The Best Rarotonga Accommodations or kayak rentals in the 5 Best Kayak Tours & Rentals in the Cook Islands.
3. Be Mesmerised at an Island Night
With fierce dancing from the island’s warriors and energetic booty shaking from the island’s princesses, a cultural show on Rarotonga is a must-do for all ages. Also known as “island nights”, Raro’s cultural shows can be found in various resorts or at the historical site of Highland Paradise or the overwater venue of Te Vara Nui Village (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). All come complete with a buffet of traditional “umu kai”, as well as plenty of options for fussy eaters.
Location: Find the locations in the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
4. Hit the Hottest Snorkelling Spots
With plenty of safe swimming spots and hundreds of fish surrounding the coral bommies of Rarotonga, you’ll have trouble trying to get your kids (and yourselves) out of the water – trust us! Rarotonga has no lack of snorkelling spots to be enjoyed together, from the lively Aroa Marine Reserve to the famous “Fruits of Rarotonga” site. Find out more about the snorkelling hotspots in The Best Snorkelling in Rarotonga: Top 10 Places to Snorkel or compare tours in the 6 Best Snorkelling Tours in Rarotonga.
Location: See the above links for snorkelling locations.
5. Let the Them Loose at a Resort’s Kids’ Club
Let the kids have their holiday while you do one of the more grown-up adventure or relaxation activities on Rarotonga by taking them to a kids’ club. Available at the Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Edgewater Resort & Spa and The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium, kids’ clubs involve fun cultural and marine activities. Kids typically come back with their homemade floral ei, with facts about the all-powerful coconut and stories of crab racing, traditional dancing, basket weaving and more.
Location: See The Best Kids’ Clubs in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for locations of all of Raro’s kids’ clubs.
6. Check Out the Underwater World and a Shipwreck on the Raro Reef Sub
See another side of Rarotonga’s marine world with a unique cruise to the deep outer reef with Raro Reef Sub. Look out for large pelagic fish, turtles, sharks and even whales on this semi-submersible vessel. The 1h25mins-1h30mins tour takes you around the RMS Maitai shipwreck and to places that are usually unreachable with kids. If that wasn’t enough, a percentage of the trip goes toward local conservation.
Location: Tours depart from Avatiu Harbour, Avarua.
7. Have a Cultural Experience with Raro’s Friendliest Warrior, Tumutoa!
A fun and interactive cultural experience that will be a Raro highlight for the whole family, Tumutoa Tours offer three awesome experiences for families. Meet Tumutoa, adorned in traditional Cook Islander attire and a character you will never forget, who will teach the family how to husk a coconut, climb a coconut tree and encourage you to try all sorts of weird and wonderful local fruits on the “Discovery Walking Tour”. Alternatively, spend the day preparing your own “umu”, a traditional underground oven feast, where you’ll prepare everything, even down to weaving your own plates, then enjoy your food with the entertainment of a string band and fire show at the end. Combo experiences are also available.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi (well signposted off the main road).
8. Get Competitive at Aumata Mini Golf
You know the deal: mini golf has been entertaining families for millennia (or not quite) and it’s no different on Rarotonga! Enjoy 18 holes of fun challenges under the shade of the mango trees and wrap up the experience with a pizza at the cafe. The course is open 7 days a week, from 10am to 6pm. See more golfing highlights in The Complete Guide to Golf in the Cook Islands.
Location: Inave Road, Arorangi (well signposted off the main road).
9. Do a Family-Friendly Island Hike
Walking the verdant jungle trails is one of the best ways to explore the interiors of Rarotonga but what’s the best option with kids in tow? One of the easiest and most rewarding hikes is Hospital Hill. The 2km (1.2-mile), 30-40mins return walk starts from the Hospital car park and steadily ventures up an easy-to-follow dirt road to a viewpoint overlooking Nikao Beach, the lagoon and the airport. If you have older kids with lots of energy to burn, check out the 10 Best Walks in Rarotonga for more trails.
Location: Top of Hospital Hill Road, Nikao. The dirt track can be found behind the hospital buildings.
10. Have a Swim at the Papua Waterfall
Cool off and get some “cool” pics at the Papua Waterfall. Also known as Wigmore’s Waterfall, the falls can be found among the forest in a clearing with picnic tables to make the most of your visit. The waterfall is at its best when there hasn’t been a dry spell (which isn’t often on Rarotonga) and swimming is best done in the bottom pool (not on top where the water pipes are). Remember to take some insect repellent with you. Finally, avoid climbing the sides where rocks are known to fall. Once you’ve got all of the health and safety aspects in mind, you’ll have a good time visiting this natural attraction.
Location: 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).
11. Get Educated at the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre
A rainy day must-do or a great place to stop for an extended lunch thanks to the cafe and ice-cream parlour on-site, the Discover Marine Wildlife & Eco Centre is Raro’s most family-friendly all-weather activity. 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.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
12. Do a Reef Walk with Ariimoana
A fascinating eco-tour that gets you exploring the reef safely, Ariimoana has you joining a local family, Kura, Jacapo and their daughter Mahi, to discover marine creatures that you’d otherwise miss. They are a wealth of knowledge about Rarotonga and its marine life, giving you an insight into local conservation efforts, as well as giving kids a chance to hold interesting marine creatures found along the way.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.
13. See the Muri Lagoon Light Up on a Night SUP Tour
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is fun with the family 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, Ariki Adventures focussing more on the nature of the uninhabited island they visit, while KiteSUP includes a fire show on an uninhabited island. Learn more about the SUP experiences in the 5 Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
Location: Ariki Adventures – Tours depart from Muri Beach in front of the Muri Beach Club Hotel. KiteSUP – 56 Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
14. Explore Mairie Nui Gardens
Cross the quaint footbridges and into seven acres of botanical paradise at Mairie Nui Gardens. These gorgeous tropical gardens just outside of Muri provide a stunning place to explore with kids between the lily ponds, intriguing plants and a backdrop of the dramatic mountain landscape. You can also stop by the Cafe & Grill with food flavoured with the garden’s homegrown herbs and spices. Entry to the gardens is by donation, making it one of the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka.
15. Enjoy a Thrill Ride on Rongohiva Watersports’ Banana Boat
For some high-speed thrills that’s suitable for adrenaline junkies of all ages, join Rongohiva Watersports for one of their exciting tours. Their banana boat tour is a highlight for families, 1h30mins of blasting along the waters of Avarua. Alternatively, try their speedboat and snorkelling tour or even watch whales in the season (July to October).
Location: Avatiu Harbour, Avarua.
16. Enjoy Tropical Treats at the Punanga Nui Market
The vibrant Punanga Nui Market ambience along with the sights and sounds of a local gathering is a treat for all the senses. Kids can try an array of tropical fruit, smoothies and other treats at the food stalls, while pareu (sarongs) and island shirts make for fun souvenirs. Don’t forget to check out the food stalls (like Baby Pancakes) at the sheds on the east side of the market, while there are also usually puppies to pet next to the SPCA shop.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), west end of Avarua. Only open on a Saturday.
17. Visit the Historic Site and Explore the Rock Pools at Black Rock
A volcanic outcrop among the sand, Black Rock is not only a historical site but a great place to snorkel or reef walk. The rock is said to be where Rarotonga’s spirits would depart to the afterlife, which you can learn more about on the interpretation panel erected in front of the rock. At low tide, the rock pools are interesting to investigate, while it’s also a fun snorkelling spot at high tide. Check out more interesting historical places of interest in the 10 Best Historical Sites in Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Nikao.
18. Enjoy a Cycling or Walking Tour with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours
If you have kids who love riding bikes, then make sure that Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours is on your itinerary. They have a tow-behind buggy, child seat, trail-behind bikes and kids’ bikes, so any age category can enjoy a peddle along the coral backroads of Rarotonga. Their “Discover Bicycle Tour” is a good one for families, taking you at an easy pace with stops to taste fresh produce and listen to interesting stories about island life. Learn more about the tour on Viator or Tripadvisor. The tour also includes lunch. Alternatively, check out their “Walk-about” tour with ice cream, which you can also check out on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Transfers are included with the tour.
19. Treat the Tastebuds at Rarotonga’s Family-Friendly Cafes and Restaurants
No family holiday is complete without food. Although self-catering is a fantastic option to stick to your budget (the best accommodations for this we list in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Rarotonga), you can be forgiven for treating yourself and loved ones to a meal out. It’s your holiday too, after all! Family-friendly options include Charlie’s Cafe with watersports equipment hire, Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant with toys for young children and the biggest menu in the South Pacific, and the Coconut Crab Cafe with its giant board games and marine eco-centre (see point #11). See them all and more in The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Location: Charlie’s Cafe – Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka. Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant – Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi. Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
20. Get Muddy on a Raro Buggy Tour
Let loose on an off-roading vehicle with your little one in the passenger seat (no younger than four years old) and get muddy exploring the inland tracks of Rarotonga. You’ll definitely be eased into the chaos, however, with the 1.5-2-hour buggy tour starting with a slow-paced yet interesting history tour of the old Sheraton Resort site before heading inland to plantations and dirt tracks including a stop at the Papua Waterfall (Wigmore’s Waterfall). Find out more about the excursion in The Best Off-Road Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Departure is from Wigmore’s Superstore, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Takitumu.
21. Let Someone Else Handle the Off-Roading on Raro Safari Tours
If you don’t fancy driving yourself, or just want a unique tiki tour of the island, join Raro Safari Tours. Their wacky safari Land Rovers topped with Cook Islands flags and coconuts will take you literally up mountain peaks on an excursion of the inland roads of Rarotonga. With a great emphasis on history and culture and a lot of time also spent on the outer coastal road of Rarotonga, it might not be every family member’s cup of tea. But the buffet lunch at the end with lots of island treats is certainly a crowd-pleaser.
Location: Transfers are included on this tour.
22. Build Sandcastles or Go Hermit Crab Hunting on the Beach
Oh yeah, there’s a whole lot of beach on Rarotonga. If a bucket and spade are part of your children’s holiday must-haves then make sure they bring them to Rarotonga where hours can be spent creating the most fabulous sand kingdom! You’ll also find plenty of hermit crabs on the shores, so can be something to keep an eye out for when beachcombing.
Location: All over Rarotonga! Check out the 10 Best Beaches in Rarotonga.
23. Relax and Learn Something New at the Te Ara Museum
One of the most impressive museums on Rarotonga, Te Ara Museum makes for a relaxing activity that will only take an hour or so out of your day. 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, as well as 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.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
24. Try Some Treats at the Muri Night Market
Another market endeavour to try is the Muri Night Market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5pm. It’s the place for cheap eats when the island’s food trucks gather together for a whirlwind of tastes. You’ll be sorted for dinner and dessert at a fraction of the price that you’d pay in a restaurant. Learn more about the market in the 5 Best Markets in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
25. Look Out for Whales
Between July and October, the flukes of humpback whales can be seen diving into the deep beyond the reef. While it’s possible to spot whales from any shore of the island, some of the best places include the resorts lining the beach in Arorangi. There are also boat tours, like Rongohiva Watersports and Raro Reef Sub that can get you closer to the action on the water. Find out more about tours in the 7 Best Whale Tours in the Cook Islands.
Location: Check out the best locations in the 10 Best Places for Whale Watching in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
26. Go for a Family Road Trip Around the Island
Forget about “Are we there yet?” There’s so much to see on Rarotonga, as well as being so close to everything that it’s impossible to get bored on a family road trip. Hit the historical maraes, stop by quaint cafes and food trucks, and head to the beach for a snorkel. All you need is to hire a car using The 10 Best Car Rentals in Rarotonga, hit the sights mentioned in A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga and enjoy the rest of your journey!
Location: See the above links for locations.
27. Drink from a Coconut
Ok, so this isn’t the most imaginative item on this list of things to do on Rarotonga with kids, but it’s a fun experience nonetheless! Available at stalls along the ‘Opu’anga Rā Roadside Market or at many cafes, “nu” (drinking coconuts) are readily available for a refreshing treat. You’ll just need to order the one, however, as those bad boys hold a lot of juice!
Location: Opuanga Ra Roadside Market – Main Road (Ara Tapu), between Aroa Beach and Arorangi.
28. Get Some Pool Time
What is a family holiday without a splash in the pool? You’ll struggle to find accommodation on Rarotonga that doesn’t have a pool for the kids to splash around in. Check out the listings in the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Rarotonga for just a few ideas.
Location: Take a look at the link above to see accommodations with a swimming pool.
29. Hit the Island’s Playgrounds
Kids are always happy to see playgrounds, even on an isolated island in the South Pacific! A hotspot is the playground by the Punanga Nui Market, but you can also find one at the YWAM in Vaimaanga. Add them to your itinerary when you do that road trip around the island as mentioned in point #26.
Location: Punanga Nui Market – Main Road (Ara Tapu), west end of Avarua. YWAM – Main Road (Ara Tapu), eastern end of Vaimaanga.
30. Get a Rarotonga Family Photoshoot
Remember your family getaway to Rarotonga for years to come with professional photos on Muri Beach. The island’s famous photographer, Charlotte Piho, will make sure everyone is feeling relaxed and happy. Finally, now every family member can be in the photo! Find out more about the experience on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Charlotte Piho Gallery, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
More Things to Do on Rarotonga with Kids
That’s it for our mega list of things to do on Rarotonga with kids! If, for some crazy reason, you didn’t find everything you were looking for on this list, then check out these other recommendations:
- 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga
- 40 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands with Kids
- 10 Best Beaches on Rarotonga
Finally, if there’s any part of your family vacation that you haven’t planned, you’re likely to find the right advice in The Complete Travel Guide to the Cook Islands for Families and 30 Tips for Your Family Rarotonga & Cook Islands Vacation with Kids.