Cook Islands with teens


The Cook Islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, almost halfway to South America from Australia’s east coast. This group of 15 volcanic islands are spread across a huge expanse of ocean, over 2,2 million square kilometres, and the most popular islands for holiday makers are its capital Rarotonga and the beautiful Aitutaki.

  1. Go island hopping. The Polynesians are famous for their navigation skills after all, so a trip around one of the islands’ lagoons is a must-do.

In Rarotonga, explore Muri Lagoon with Koka Lagoon Cruises, who’ll show you where to find all the friendliest fish before taking you to Rock Island for a barbeque lunch and a demonstration of their coconut tree climbing skills, with a lot of stories, bad jokes, singing and dancing along the way.


On Aitutaki Lagoon you can visit clam gardens and desert islands on the Seven Wonders of Paradise cruise with Kia Orana Cruise. Your tour guide Captain Fantastic will entertain you with stories of each little island’s history along the way, and you can get even your passport stamped at tiny One Foot Island.

  1. Cycle round the island. While the Cook Islands are volcanic, and some with steep mountainous interiors, the coastal areas are flat and easy to explore by pushbike.

On Rarotonga there is the option to take a guided cycle with Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours. The tours are between three and five hours long, include lunch and a swim as well as stories along the way of the local environment and cultural heritage. Pushbikes on Aitutaki are available to hire at most hotels and guest houses, and as there’s hardly any hills (or traffic), it’s a great way to get around.

  1. Climb to the top of the hill. For spectacular views of the island and surrounding lagoon, there’s no better place than the island’s highest point.

On Rarotonga you can drive almost to the summit, before putting on your boots and hiking to the summit of Te Rua Manga, or The Needle, at 413m, to take in the view before descending to the coast on the other side of the island where you’ll find Wigmore Waterfall.


Aitutaki’s highest point, Maunga Pu, is only 124m so a relatively easy climb, which is rewarded with 360 degree views of the island.

  1. Take in a show. The Cook Islanders are fantastic singers and musicians, so you’ll be accompanied by music most places you visit. The resorts will usually hold at least one cultural performance each month, and if yours doesn’t, visit the resort next door. The drumming skills are particularly impressive.
  1. Explore the underwater world. There are guided snorkeling opportunities in both Rarotonga and Aitutaki with Koka Lagoon Cruises and Kia Orana Cruise, or you can simply hire some gear and wade in off the beach.

The islands are surrounded by shallow lagoons filled with lots of pretty coral bommies teeming with fish and plenty of giant clams. The best place to snorkel in Rarotonga is a little patch of coastline near the Big Fish Dive Centre, who have gear to hire and snorkeling tips a-plenty.

In Aitutaki, before you go snorkeling, be sure to visit the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre to learn all about their giant clam farms.

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