What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com
What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙

What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙

© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

What Clothes Do You Need for a Trip to the Cook Islands?

Ah, packing… Whether you hate it or love it, packing right for a holiday to Rarotonga, Aitutaki or any of the Cook Islands is essential. You don’t want to forget anything crucial or end up buying items in the islands that you, annoyingly, know you have back home. Plus, you want to pack the right clothes for the weather and what activities you will be doing.

The Cook Islands enjoys consistently warm temperatures throughout the year, averaging around 27°C (81°F) in the day and 21°C (70°F) in the evening. With that in mind, all of the clothes listed in our clothes packing list for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are useful to pack no matter what time of year you are travelling. So continue scrolling to see what clothes to pack for the Cook Islands.

This is by no means a complete packing list for the Cook Islands; you can find that in What to Pack for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Cook Islands Packing List. We also go into detail about our top essentials in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

5 Tips for Packing Clothes for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

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

  1. 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
  2. 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, an excess may apply. Domestic flights in the Cook Islands usually have the same allowance as international flights (except for the Northern Group)
  3. Pack versatile outfits, for example, what can be used as an evening outfit for dinner will probably also suit attending a Cook Islands church service
  4. If you have a sarong, by all means, bring your own but the hand-printed “pareu” is kind of a big deal in the Cook Islands so you may be more tempted to buy one here – see 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for more ideas
  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 clothes packing list for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands!

What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Casual Clothing for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

Due to the warm temperatures, most people in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands wear casual and light clothing to keep cool, particularly bamboo, linen or merino wool fabrics. For women, we love the breezy, versatile and sustainable bamboo outfits of Moso Morrow.

While wearing shorts and singlets (vest tops) is usually acceptable even outside of resorts and holiday accommodations, note that wearing swimwear in towns and villages (basically anytime you’re not swimming) is bad practice. In short, make sure you have something to cover up your swimmers after swimming.

You may also want to pack a light jacket or cardigan to cover up on cooler evenings, especially in the dry season – see Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate + Weather by Month and The Best Time to Visit Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Best Months to Visit.

Casual Clothing List for Men

  • 2 Light shirts
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 2 Shorts/Lightweight pants
  • 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
  • 1 Light jumper or jacket for cooler evenings
  • 1 Smarter holiday shirt to look sharp at dinner and/or church
  • 1 Sports shorts/Pants for hiking
  • 1 Sports T-shirt for hiking
  • 1 Outfit to travel between Rarotonga and home
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks.

Casual Clothing List for Women

  • 5 Singlets/T-Shirts
  • 1 Light blouse/T-shirt to cover the shoulders for church
  • 2 Shorts/Skirts
  • 1 Light evening dress to impress at dinner
  • 1 Dress/Skirt below the knee for church (We recommend light fabrics such as the sustainable bamboo dresses and skirts by Moso Morrow)
  • 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 comfort
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks.
What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Swimwear for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

The water is where you’re likely to spend A LOT of time in the Cook Islands. For this reason, we recommend packing two pieces of swimwear (because no one likes scraping on a wet bathing suit!) For men, boardshorts are the usual choice of swimwear, as opposed to tight Speedos. For women, we recommend a bikini for casual days by the pool or on the beach and something more stable for watersports like kitesurfing.

A rash vest is a good idea for sun protection, especially for children – we like the sustainable ethos and quality of Sharkskin rashies! Additionally, while resorts and tours often provide snorkelling gear, you can’t be sure what state they will be in. If you have the option, pack your own mask and snorkel – TUSA Sport is our go-to.

Swimwear List for Men

  • Boardshorts
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Beach/Travel towel
  • Rash vest
  • Beach bag/day pack.

Swimwear List for Women

  • Bikini for beach/pool
  • One-piece for watersports
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Beach/Travel towel
  • Rash vest
  • Beach bag/Day pack.
What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Sun, Rain and Insect Protection

With UV levels ranging from 8 to 11 (which is extreme), short yet powerful rainfall, and mosquitos that can carry diseases, the elements can sometimes look like they are trying to ruin your holiday to the Cook Islands. Don’t fret, the sun can be countered with regular sunscreen application and a few extra items, the rain often only lasts five minutes, and the mosquitoes, well, most accommodations have mosquito controls in place so it’s not that bad. But still, it is worth packing a few extra items just in case.

For the sun, for instance, make sure that everybody has a sunhat and sunglasses. For the mosquitoes, pack a light long sleeve layer so they have no skin to access. Insect repellent is also useful, but that’s more of an item for the Full Cook Islands Packing List.

Finally, if you are travelling to the Cook Islands during the wet season, which runs from December to March, you might want to take a light rain jacket (unless you plan to duck for cover if it rains or you do one of the 20 Things to Do in the Cook Islands on a Rainy Day).

Protective Clothing for Men, Women and Children

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light shirt to cover arms and back
  • Light rain jacket.
What to Wear in Rarotonga & Cook Islands: Clothes Packing List 👙© CookIslandsPocketGuide.com

Shoes for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

The last item on your clothes packing list for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands is footwear. This depends on what you plan to get up to in the Cook Islands but it’s fair to assume that a good pair of flip-flops (or “jandals” if you are Kiwi) and/or sandals would be a good starting point.

While reef shoes or water shoes on Rarotonga and Aitutaki are recommended if you have them but are not strictly necessary, they are certainly recommended for the rocky coral atolls of the other Southern Group outer islands. A good pair to have are the unisex Mishansha Water Shoes while  Speedo Kid’s and Toddler’s Water Shoes are great for kids.

If you plan on doing one of the island hikes, a pair of sturdy sneakers or walking shoes are highly recommended.

Footwear for Men, Women and Children

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

More About What Clothes to Pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

That’s it for our list of the best clothes to pack for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands! Now that you have made your clothes packing list for the Cook Islands, here are more packing tips:

Finally, don’t forget a thing to prepare for your trip by using The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide and Cook Islands Travel Tips: 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.

Author

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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