Arts & Culture

Ancient Cook Islands Polynesian culture isn’t only in museums, we celebrate it in our everyday lives. It’s so easy to experience as we love sharing it with visitors.

Cultural Highlights

The Cook Islands are a modern Pacific nation whose people are a cosmopolitan blend of their ancient Polynesian heritage, with a European twist. There are so many ways to immerse yourself in their culture and slip into the laidback life the locals have created. Cook Islanders are happy, friendly and vibrant people who love engaging with travellers and sharing their lifestyle with their visitors. From lazing on the beach, and shopping at the markets to enjoying a cocktail as the sun sets at a local beach bar, the locals are right there with you, sharing in the magic and joy of their island life.

Must Do Cultural Experiences

  • Go along to an ‘Island Night’
  • Take part in a cultural island tour
  • Experience an authentic Cook Islands ‘Umu’ feast
  • See incredible art at the National Museum
  • Pick up a coconut at a roadside stall and engage with the locals
  • Visit the Punanga Nui Markets
  • Dine with the locals through progressive dining

Immerse yourself in Cook Islands culture

While some travellers are searching for escape, others are searching for experiences, the Cook Islands is a destination that is able to offer travellers both! One of the best ways to connect with the friendly locals is to visit the vibrant Saturday morning Punanga Nui Markets in Rarotonga. This is the social hub of the island, where tourists and locals come together to enjoy delicious local produce, talented local music and dance performances and authentic Cook Islands crafts.

Book your spot at an ‘Island Night’ cultural show for an unforgettable cultural experience. Available at a variety of resorts and cultural centres on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, this is an evening where the locals share their exciting history through traditional music, song, dance and food.

Travellers can combine culture and cuisine with one of the many authentic dining experiences on offer. Venture out to the villages to participate in true Cook Islands hospitality by visiting locals and dining in their homes, through progressive dining, or simply head down to one of the night markets, buy a plate and mingle with the local crowd.

During your holiday you can join in on island-inspired Zumba classes, beach yoga, crossfit workouts and even attend a local rugby game and cheer alongside the passionate locals. Cook Islanders are waiting and ready to extend a warm invitation to share in their fun and active lifestyle with visiting holidaymakers. Shopping at the roadside stalls, eating at the night markets and grabbing a drink at your nearest bar are just a few ways to get to know the locals and their lifestyle.

After an exciting Saturday night enjoying the safe and friendly nightlife of the Cook Islands, relax on a Sunday, just like the locals. Attend a church service at one of the many beautiful churches dotted around the islands and be greeted by a warm welcome and some of the most beautiful hymns and harmonies you have ever heard.

A highlight of the cultural calendar is the annual Te Maeva Nui Festival in August – a festival of Cook Islands’ culture featuring spectacular dance and music performances at the National Auditorium.

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