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What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]©
What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]

What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2024]


The Ultimate Cook Islands Packing List

One thing that stands between you and a holiday in paradise is packing. Whether you love it or you hate it, packing needs to be done. But what do you need to pack for Rarotonga, Aitutaki or any of the islands in the Cook Islands? In this complete packing list for the Cook Islands, we go through what clothes you need to pack, as well as toiletries, medication, travel accessories, essentials, things for kids, and even what type of luggage to use.

Before we dive into the Cook Islands packing list, be sure to bookmark Arriving at Rarotonga Airport, Cook Islands: A Step-by-Step Guide for even more Raro preparation tips.

5 Packing Tips for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

Before we get into what to pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, here are some quick packing tips:

  1. Be aware of what you need to declare when arriving at the borders of Rarotonga – write a list if you have a few things that are difficult to remember
  2. Don’t overpack. If you are in the Cook Islands for five days or a week, pack clothes to wear for each day. If you are in for a couple of weeks in paradise, pack for a week and use your resort or holiday home’s laundry facilities
  3. If you are taking more than one flight to Rarotonga, make sure to check the baggage allowance of all your flights and take the strictest one into consideration. Otherwise, excess charges may apply. Domestic flights in the Cook Islands usually have the same allowance as international flights (except to the Northern Group)
  4. Contact your bank to let them know you are travelling, just in case they block your card
  5. Use packing cubes to organise your suitcase – see our favourites on Amazon or these premium packing cubes to separate dirty from clean clothes.

Now, let’s get into the full packing list for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands!

What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]©

Clothes Packing List for the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands has consistently warm weather – an average of around 27°C (81°F) in the day and 21°C (70°F) – so light clothing is the way to go when packing for Rarotonga, Aitutaki or wherever you are going in the Cooks.

What Should I Pack for 5 Days, 1 Week, 2 Weeks in the Cook Islands?

If staying in the Cook Islands for less than a week, we recommend packing enough clothes for each day. If in the Cooks for more than a week, then pack a week’s worth of clothes and make use of the laundry facilities in resorts and holiday homes.

Now, here’s a quick overview of what clothes to pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. For our complete guide with all the details, make sure you also go to What to Wear in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List.

Cook Islands Casual Clothing

  • 5 Singlets/T-Shirts
  • 1 Blouse/Shirt to cover the shoulders for dinner or church
  • 2 Shorts/Skirts
  • 1 Light evening dress to impress at dinner
  • 1 Dress/Skirt below the knee for church
  • 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
  • 1 Light jacket/Cardigan/Pashmina for cooler evenings
  • 1 Sports shorts/Leggings for hiking
  • 1 Sports T-shirt/Singlet for hiking
  • 1 Outfit to travel between Rarotonga and home
  • 3 Bras including strapless, sports and comfortable bras
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks.

Cook Islands Swimwear

  • 1 Bikini for beach/pool
  • 1 One-piece for watersports
  • 2 Boardshorts for guys
  • 1 Rash vest (we like sustainable Sharkskin rashies).

Cook Islands Protective Clothing

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light shirt to cover arms and back
  • Light rain jacket.

Cook Islands Footwear

  • Flip-flops/sandals
  • Walking shoes
  • Reef shoes/Water shoes.

Again, we go into greater detail about what to wear in our Clothes Packing List, as well as a few more handy hints and suggestions in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]©

Travel Accessories Packing List for the Cook Islands

From the absolutely essential travel documents to the not-so-essential-but-good-to-have e-reader, this list of travel accessories has something for everyone but not necessarily everything for everyone. While we all have our preferences, here are some ideas on what travel accessories to pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Pick and choose what applies to you!

Cook Islands Travel Essentials and Paperwork

  • Passport
  • Boarding pass/booking paperwork
  • Travel ticket/booking paperwork for travel out of Rarotonga
  • Cook Islands accommodation contact details
  • Credit/debit card (Visa or MasterCard)
  • New Zealand Dollars
  • Driver’s license/IDP (if renting a car)
  • Medical prescription
  • Travel insurance policy (optional).

Head to What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands? for all the details on this all-essential paperwork.

Cook Islands Travel Accessories and Electronics

Some of these items fall under the “essential” or “highly recommended” category, which you can read up more about in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands Travel Accessories and Gadgets for Kids

See the 29 Tips for Your Family Rarotonga & Cook Islands Vacation with Kids for more information on some of the items mentioned.

Cook Islands Food Packing List

While we don’t generally recommend that you pack food for the Cook Islands (Rarotonga is well-stocked), if you have dietary needs that are often hard to cater for abroad (aside for vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free – we’ve got you covered), then you may want to bring a few essential ingredients. See what you can and cannot take in Taking Food to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: What You Need to Know.

What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]©

Toiletries and Medication Packing List for the Cook Islands

Everyone has their own morning routine and different toiletries they use, so this list may well have a few things you don’t use, as well as a few things missing.

If you’re trying to pack light and are staying in resorts and hotels, know that many accommodations in Rarotonga and Aitutaki provide shampoo, conditioner and soap in ensuite bathrooms.

A first aid kit is also important to address medical problems that commonly occur when holidaying in the Cook Islands, such as sunburn, heatstroke and mosquito bites. For more information on packing your own first aid kit, see What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands First Aid Kit

  • Travel passport (travel vaccinations record)
  • Paracetamol
  • Antihistamine pills or cream
  • Oral rehydration sachets (medical electrolytes)
  • Baby electrolytes
  • Antacids
  • Antidiarrhoeal pills e.g. loperamide
  • Nasal drops
  • Band-aids/plasters
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Gauzes
  • Gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Elastic wraps
  • Antisceptic cream/spray
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Aloe vera soothing cream
  • A copy of the emergency numbers in the Cook Islands
  • Antibiotics if going to remote islands – discuss with your GP first.

For information on what each medication is for, again, check out What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands Toiletries and Other Medication

  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • SPF lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Seasickness pills (only if fishing or whale watching)
  • Prescription medication
  • Shampoo/conditioner (if not staying in a resort/villa)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Soap (if not staying in a resort/villa)
  • Razor/hair removal
  • Glasses/contact lenses
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitiser.

For more health tips for travelling, see Is it Safe to Travel to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands? – Cook Islands Safety Tips.

What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List 🧳 [2023]©

What Type of Luggage to Use for the Cook Islands

Finally, what are you going to pack it all into? Everyone has their preferences on luggage, but for the Cook Islands, a suitcase with wheels tends to be the best option. Most surfaces are sealed where you’re going in Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Hell, even the flattened coral of the outer islands can manage suitcases. But if you prefer travelling with a backpack; we don’t need to convince you how versatile they are that they’ll certainly work in the Cook Islands.

Luggage to Take to the Cook Islands

  • Beach bag/day pack that fits within the carry-on allowance of your chosen airline (usually 55cm x 40cm x 23cm / 21″ x 15″ x 9″)
  • Suitcase/backpack
  • Small purse/camera bag
  • Packing cubes.

More About What to Pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

That’s it for our complete packing list for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands! If you want to dive into more about what to pack for the Cook Islands, just check out our other guides:

Finally, be fully prepared for the Cook Islands with The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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