Virgin Australia operates flights to the Cook Islands’ largest island, Rarotonga, via Auckland.
Rarotonga Airport Information
Rarotonga International Airport is located on the northeast coast of Rarotonga, within easy reach of the rest of the island. The airport can be accessed by various transport options, including:
- Car Hire: Several hire car companies operate a reception desk in the arrivals area of the terminal.
- Taxi: A taxi rank is located outside the arrivals area of the terminal.
- Bus transfer: Several bus companies provide meet-and-greet services and hotel coach transfers, to and from all international flights.
- Public transport: Cooks Buses operate a round-the-island public bus service which passes by the airport every 30 minutes.
Things to do in the Cook Islands
Postcard perfect, the Cook Islands is a jewel in the South Pacific’s crown. Lagoons teem with technicolour tropical fish, limestone caves funnel into mountains, while lush green foliage carpets the group’s 15 atolls. Villages, beaches, paw paw patches, and fields of taro, mango and bananas abound in the Cooks and paint a stunning picture of island life. The Cook Islands’ largest island, Rarotonga is its tourism hub. Fringed by satin-white sand, swaying palms and a coral reef, Rarotonga has a relaxed ambience and serves as an ideal holiday getaway.
Scattered over a vast expanse of empty ocean the size of Western Europe, the tiny Cook Islands are a castaway’s dream come true. Experience thousands of years of Polynesian culture amid a setting of immense natural beauty. Explore Rarotonga’s intriguing landscape of mountains, jungle and pure white sand beaches. Meet friendly locals and learn the ancient craft of canoe carving – where traditional vakas are carved from massive tree trunks into unique designs individual to each island. Purchase homewares, jewellery, clothing, and authentic souvenirs from Muri Beach village. Or wander the Te Punanga Nui market to browse bountiful produce, flowers, and craftwork, and sample local delicacies fresh from the grill.
Shopping in the Cook Islands is a relaxed and friendly experience. Crafts, homewares, jewellery clothing, gifts, and art can be found in Rarotonga’s main town, Avarua and at villages such as Muri Beach. Te Punanga Nui market offers Rarotonga’s most lively shopping experience. Open every Saturday morning, stalls brim with local fruit and vegetables, flowers, music and crafts, while grills cook traditional local food such as Ika Mata and chicken with taro. Traditional crafts, especially weaving, carving and tivaivai (stitching/sewing) are sold in a number of shops and markets. Rarotonga is blessed with fragrant and exotic flowers, many of which – namely tipani (frangipani), tiare (gardenia), and pitate (jasmine) – are used in locally-produced perfumes, oils and soaps.
Food and hospitality are an essential element of Cook Island culture, and as a result the islands host notable culinary trade. Thai, Indian and Italian restaurants are popular in Rarotonga, with chefs creating exciting fusion meals that explore both international and Pacific flavours. A number of island-style cafes focus on traditional dishes. All produce and seafood is harvested locally and used fresh. Local catches include deep sea fish such as tuna, mahi mahi and parrot fish. Traditional cooking is complex and time-consuming. Food is often prepared in an umu – a Polynesian underground oven. Special occasions are usually marked by a feast called an umukai, which translates to "food from the oven". Meat is served as the main dish and generally accompanied by ika and potato salad.
Kava is a traditional ceremonial drink, and coconut water is also popular. Most restaurants and cafes are licensed to sell beer, wine and spirits – Rarotonga has more than two dozen licensed bars and restaurants, many which feature live entertainment. Night spots stay open till around midnight, or later on Friday and Saturday nights.
Cook Island Holiday Packages
Experience all that the Cook Islands have to offer, with a great selection of Cook Island holiday packages. Packages include flights, accommodation and an exceptional variety of extras.