Family Fun Cook Islands Style!

Rachel Smith
Photography By
Cook Islands Tourism

We have some amazing organised activities on Rarotonga that take in the natural wonders of our lagoon and mountains, and everything in between. Sometimes though, it's nice to do things at your own pace - to leave room for unplanned adventures on your Cook Islands holiday.

Here are some top tips for families that are fun, easy and won’t hurt the pocket.

Take an island tour

Jump in the car, motorbike, or if you are feeling up for it hire a bicycle for a day. There’s no rush so stop off for a swim, an icecream and maybe a sunset cocktail.

Plenty to keep the kids outdoors and occupied

Outdoor play for kids is mostly about heading to the beach or climbing trees in the Cook Islands. We do have a couple of playgrounds that will look more familiar though – one is Rarotonga’s main playground at Punanga Nui Market (with a filtered water fountain) and the other is on the south side of the island at YWAM in Vaimaanga. Both playgrounds are open all daylight hours, including Sunday, with a donation box at YWAM to help cover maintenance costs.

Sunset picnics and swims

Enjoy a sunset on the western side of Rarotonga or Aitutaki with a picnic dinner or takeaways on the beach - and maybe one more swim as the sun goes down.

Sunset family in the Cook Islands

Big swells?

Then there are very likely to be surfers and body boarders out by the airport. Park up and watch the fun.

Low tide?

Walk across to one of the motu (islands) in Muri and explore, or take a walk on the rocky beaches of the eastern side of the island, around Matavera and Turangi (Plenty of rocks and shells to discover!). 

Lowtide in Rarotonga ©Zhang Da Qiang

Hermit crab hunting and racing 

There are hundreds of hermit crabs on Rarotonga from the teeny tiny to the big and boisterous - the small ones are called kākara and the larger ones unga. Go on a hermit crab hunt and have a family crab race. Just make sure you treat them kindly and return them to their home before you leave the beach.

Hermit Crab Rarotonga ©Zhang Da Qiang

Head inland

Away from the beaches, inland Rarotonga is just as stunning with towering cliffs, terraced taro patches and fresh water streams. Check out some of the valley roads that head inland from the back road, with most of the mountain trails beginning with a flat family friendly walk.

If you are inland at dusk look to the sky and you will see large fruit bats (moakirikiri) flying around. Be sure to take a torch so you can see your way out – the sun sets fast in the tropics.

Rachel Smith is a freelance writer who has lived in Rarotonga with her family on-and-off for the past seven years – she can testify that it is a very hard place to leave.