What to do in the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands has so many activities to choose from depending on what you like and your budget. There are some of the activities that I did myself and could enjoy rain or shine. 

1.    Te Vara Nui Village buffet dinner and show

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:30pm until 10pm, the Te Vara Nui village holds a buffet dinner with delicious local dishes in a buffet style so you can eat all you want. They have so many dishes to choose from and I couldn’t decide so I filled my plate with a little bit of everything and ended up way too full. 

After dinner comes the island dance show and the fire dance show with drum music. The show teaches you about the legends while you enjoy the incredible way they shake those hips! And after the show they even hold a little dance lesson.

After the show comes dessert time, they have a selection of local fruits, and many cakes. Be sure to leave some space in your tummy for dessert!

Because this is all below roof you can enjoy it even if it rains, and it’s such an amazing experience to treat yourself to. The staff is so welcoming and warm and they make sure that you have the best view of the show.

2.    KiteSUP yoga

KiteSUP is a company which has many kinds of water activities including paddle boarding, night time paddle boarding and the one I chose. SUP yoga!!!
I do yoga on my own so I’m no expert and I have never in my life tried paddle boarding so I was doubtful that I could manage to do both at the same time but I tried it anyway and I had the time of my life.

The class is 90 minutes and it includes a short lesson on paddle boarding which after receiving I was able to do! It’s so beginner friendly. Then you paddle to a nearby island where you begin your SUP yoga lesson.

If you don’t know what SUP yoga is, well, its yoga but on top of a paddle board on top of the water! If you lose balance you fall into the water, but don’t worry its not deep water so you will be able to touch the ground (and the sea cucumbers in it). It really tests your balance skills but if you manage to do some of the cooler poses it sure looks good on the pictures which your yoga teacher takes and later uploads onto their Facebook page (takes a few days though).

I had so much fun, I didn’t fall into the water and I want to do it again. It’s unbelievably peaceful to do yoga on top of water and it’s so much more satisfying because of the extra challenge. Plus, it’s only $30 so its one of the cheaper activities in the Cook Islands.

3.    Raro Mountain safari tour

Rarotonga is an island with beautiful beaches but the middle part is mountains and tropical forest. This tour takes you to those inner parts which are difficult to get to if you don’t have the proper 4-wheel drive car. 
The day I went to this tour was a cloudy day with light rain but it was after days of heavy rain and because of that our tour guide decided it was too dangerous to venture into the highest parts of the mountain, the road would be slippery and there could be danger of landslides. Therefore, I didn’t get to see the whole thing but safety first and still we got to see most of the major parts of this tour.
The Papua Waterfall, the Te Rua Manga (the needle) rock, and the historical marae site where the island’s sacred ceremonies take place.

Our guide, Captain V, was funny and yet he was so passionate about his heritage that it made me appreciate the Cook Islands even more. He taught us facts about island life that I wouldn’t have learn otherwise, he taught us about the plants grown there, island life now and in the past and he made sure we were all having a good time.

After the tour is over there is a BBQ chicken buffet style lunch on the beach, where they serve some local dishes cooked simple yet delicious. Local fruits for dessert. The food is served in a hut so you won’t get wet even if it rains and after lunch you can walk on the beach for a while.

This tour can be done even during rain as it is mostly under cover but I would say its better when it’s not raining. To learn about local life and culture this is a great tour.

4.    Muri Night markets

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays from 5-8pm the muri night markets are open and selling some of the best food on the island.
I went there twice and I loved the garlic prawns and for dessert you have got to eat the cheesecakes! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I can’t stop thinking about the coconut and passion fruit cake there…I want to eat it again! The coconut cheesecake was so good as well! I think I love this market just for their cakes. 

The food is cooked fresh right in front of you and there are plenty of tables to sit and eat (but a lot of flies too). 

5.    Swim with the dogs

Rarotonga has some of the friendliest dogs I have met in my life! They don’t know you but they freely come to you and relax on the beach with you and swim with you.
I love dogs so this is dog heaven for me! Plus, it’s a free way to enjoy some down time.

6.    Eating

Did all the good cooks in the world end up in Rarotonga? I think so, because every restaurant and every café we went to they served amazing food. I tried to diet to make my stomach look presentable in a bikini but it is impossible! 
Grilled fish tacos, seafood curries, garlic prawns, seafood pasta, buffet dinners and lunches, the sweetest tropical fruits, free avocadoes right from the trees, cakes and cakes! It’s a foodie’s heaven.

7.    Relax in a spa

You came to a tropical island to relax so treat yourself to a massage in one of the fancy spas. My friend and I chose “Spa Ariki” because according to the pamphlet they offered acupuncture treatments. 
Once we got there though, we were told that the acupuncturist had left and so they now offered massages only. Oh well. I chose the deep tissue Swedish massage and it was so good and relaxing. I even learned a few massage techniques which I think I will incorporate in my own practice.

8.    Yoga on the beach

Perhaps it was because we went during the Cook Islands rainy season but thanks to that the beaches were almost always exclusive to ourselves. This meant that I could practice my most challenging yoga poses and failing again and again without having to worry about other people watching me fail!

These are only some of the activities that I did but there are many, many more! There’s lagoon cruises, snorkelling, surfing, bar hopping buses, fishing, hiking and if you have time and money you can even go to the other islands.


Multilingual acupuncturist travelling the world