10 Unforgettable Things To Do in Rarotonga with Kids

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Rarotonga Cook Islands is known for its pristine beaches and friendly locals. It’s one of the best pacific islands to have on the bucket list for a tropical vacation with your family.

Despite being a rather small island, there are tons of family-friendly activities in Rarotonga to keep you and your kids busy!

In this post, we’ll share the top 10 things to do in Rarotonga that will leave you with beautiful memories for a very long time.

Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of the Rarotonga Pocket Guide here! This pocket guide is the most compact travel guide. It’s mobile-friendly and is designed for travelling parents on the go.

Please note that this guide is written pre-covid, and some tour operators and restaurants may no longer be in business.

Rarotonga Things To Do Family Travel Guide Cook Islands Featured

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Series: Rarotonga Cook Islands Family Travel Guide

Rarotonga Essential Information Must Know Before You Go
Top Things To Do with Kids in Rarotonga
Top Resorts & Best Accommodation on Rarotonga for Families
Top Family-Friendly Cafés & Restaurants in Rarotonga

Highlights

Video guide on top things to do in Rarotonga

Snorkelling

Snorkelling is one of the best things to do in Rarotonga with kids. You can see a part of the world here that you can’t see anywhere else.

If you’re serious about snorkelling, I would highly recommend going out on a boat or a tour because what you see further out in the ocean and around the outer reefs are unlike the marine reserves you see near the shore. I’m talking about more than just pretty corals and tropical fish, but turtles, rays, giant clams, giant trevally, and shipwrecks!

If you’re travelling with a baby or young kids, the easily accessible marine reserves are still an amazing experience for the whole family. There are alternative options to see turtles, giant clams and trevally with different tours, which we’ll go through one by one below.

1. The Rarotongan Beach Resort Marine Reserve

We found the best snorkelling pockets that you can easily walk to right at The Rarotongan Beach Resort marine reserve. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can still snorkel here.

On a good day, water visibility is so good that you can see fish clearly from the outdoor deck at the Te Vaka restaurant. Kids are most welcome as the blue water is generally very calm.

© Photos by Kida

2. Opposite Fruits of Rarotonga

Another popular snorkelling spot is at the Titikaveka Beach, just opposite Fruits of Rarotonga.

Based on my personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend snorkelling with a little one here because the water was not very calm, at least not on the day that I snorkelled here. Titikaveka Beach wasn’t a major attraction, and there weren’t many people around in case anything happens.

Nonetheless, it’s a great snorkelling spot on a good day.

© Photos by Kida

3. In front of Edgewater Resort

In front of The Edgewater Resort is also great for snorkelling on a good day, and this is another top-rated family-friendly resort on the island.

Unfortunately for us, it was raining on the day we visited. Not only did I not see anything, I almost got swept away by the current as well. So be careful if you’re snorkelling on a wet, windy day.

Snorkeling Spot in Front of Edgewater Resort
Snorkelling Spot in front of Edgewater Resort

© Photos by Kida

You can also try between Muri Beach Club and Pacific Resort Rarotonga. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to explore this area, so if you get a chance to snorkel at these places, please share your experience in the comment box below!

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Operator: Koka Lagoon Cruises
Price Guide: $40-$80, under 5s are free.

Koka Lagoon Cruises Boat over crystal clear water with reef visible underwater
Koka Lagoon Cruises, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

© Photos by Kida

Kick start your Cook Islands vacation by seeing the best of what Rarotonga has to offer. Book yourselves on a glass-bottom boat tour before you even get to Rarotonga!

We were so excited to collaborate with Koka Lagoon Cruises on our trip to Rarotonga, and we had the best time ever on the island!

The cruise started at the beautiful Muri, and we were welcomed aboard by the very talented crew at Koka Lagoon Cruises. The entire cruise was high energy, packed with cultural activities and lots of laughs!

We had one of the best snorkelling experiences here. Our toddler loved the bluefin trevally feeding and saw the giant clam through the glass bottom boat with Daddy while I got to witness everything up close in the water!

© Photos by Kida

The second part of the cruise was set on the beautiful Motu Koromiri (“no touching” island). This island was seriously the postcardesque pristine paradise that I finger-stopped on Instagram #nofilter.

All we had to do was relax and enjoy this untouched island and its smooth white sand while the crew cooked up a storm. Then we had a feast ’til we dropped, literally.

Koka Lagoon Cruises covered a lot more than just a cruise. We learned all about the Cook Islands culture, the use of coconuts and watched the mighty warrior climb up the coconut tree in a blink of an eye, no joke.

© Photos by Kida

Koka Lagoon Cruises is one of the highlight things to do in Rarotonga. After a day on the tour, it’s natural to set your expectations thinking other tours in Rarotonga are just as good, if not better. So, be sure to adjust your expectations or leave this cruise to the last as we did and end your trip with a memory of a lifetime!

Girl standing over beautiful pristine postcardesque paradise water on Muri Moto
Postcardesque Paradise

© Photos by Kida

Raro Reef Sub

Operator: Raro Reef Sub
Price Guide: $35-$65, under 3s are free.

After researching on ‘how to teach a 2yo to snorkel’ and browsing through Amazon’s inflatable glass-bottom tow-behind boats, I was ready to give up on showing my toddler the amazing underwater world of the Cook Islands. Until I came across Raro Reef Sub, the only semi-submarine on the island.

We were super excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with Raro Reef Sub during our visit to Rarotonga as this was the only way for my toddler to see the beautiful corals and marine lives in the water without me worrying about her safety.

The departure wharf for Raro Reef Sub is about a 10-minutes walk from the Punanga Nui market. We booked ourselves on a Saturday tour and took a stroll to the wharf after the market.

© Photos by Kida

To our surprise, we saw so much more than just giant trevally and shipwrecks! We spotted a turtle and pufferfish, and of course, the entire experience of being on a little yellow semi-sub was incredible!

The friendly crew sent each family down to the sub in small groups so everyone could get a chance to see the amazing giant trevally feeding, regeneration of corals, and shipwrecks of Maitai. Then, they will swing back around to the same spot for the next group so no one would miss out.

During whale seasons between June – October, you may even spot some whales!

© Photos by Kida

At the end of the trip, we were given discount vouchers to Discover Marine & Wildlife Centre, which was run by the same family. So make sure you use these vouchers and pay a visit to Discover Marine & Wildlife Centre to see more exotic marine critters up close!

Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre

Price Guide: $9 for adults, ($2 off if you also book the Raro Reef Sub tour)

You may not have heard of this little centre yet as it was only opened in January 2019. Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre is located on the main road near Beluga Café.

Many exhibitions were relocated from the old Wildlife Centre, which is now permanently closed. Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre is a must-stop for all families with curious little ones wanting to learn a little more about the marine life on the Cook Islands. They will get a chance to see turtles and coconut crabs up close!

Before you go, grab some delicious lunch from the Coconut Crab Café, and let your little ones draw and play at the toddler’s corner. Our toddler had so much fun covered in chalk dust drawing ‘big circles’ – aka the turtle she saw, that she didn’t want to leave!

© Photos by Kida

Markets

There are the 2 markets in Rarotonga, Punanga Nui Market and Muri Night Market.

Punanga Nui Market is open every day. However, it’s usually pretty quiet on other days and only comes to life on Saturdays between 7am – 12pm. You can get all of your souvenirs and local food & veggie from this market. Expect to bump into a few tourists that you’ve met on the plane or on the island, because pretty much all the travellers gather here on a Saturday!

© Photos by Kida

Muri Night Market opens from 5-9pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. It’s a cash-only market. On a breezy evening, people gather here for a great night out enjoying the music, street food and vibrant ambience.

We loved sharing tables with other tourists, meeting people and having a laugh while indulging in the delicious coconut ice cream waffle cone. Our toddler showed off her moves on the ‘stage’, wiggling her bum with the music and waving her arms around. It was a great night to relax and enjoy the friendly island culture.

© Photos by Kida

Don’t judge the Muri Thursday Night Market from the photos above as it was a rainy day and the market was closed. We came back to Muri Night Market that Sunday when the day cleared up, and it was packed with people with great vibes.

I went there right after the turtle safari, still wet in my swimsuit, and it was about 3 hours before our flight back to Auckland, hence why we didn’t take any more photos of the Night Market.

Island Night

Operator: Te Vara Nui and Highland Paradise
Price Guide: $49-$130, under 5s are free.

At first, we were a little hesitant to book this show with Te Vara Nui, as it was a little over our expected price point for a cultural show. But because we were staying in Muri and there wasn’t much else to do on a rainy day, we went ahead and booked Te Vara Nui Island Night. Boy, we were so glad we went to this show because this night turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip, and it was worth every penny!

© Photos by Kida

The central stage was set up beautifully with saturated colourful lighting effects surrounded by water and lotus leaves. Our family was drawn to it immediately right from the ticket counter! The restaurant seating was allocated and undercover, situated on either side of the stage.

Beautiful evening lights from central stage setup at Te Vara Nui Village Cultral Show
Te Vara Nui Island Night stage. Amazing set up!

© Photos by Kida

What impressed me the most were the little touches, such as providing insect repellents and umbrellas for guests right by the entrance. That showed the staff at Te Vara Nui truly cared about their guests.

Insect Repellents and umbrellas for guests
Insect Repellents and umbrellas for guests

© Photos by Kida

Our eyes lit up seeing the extended buffet selections and regretted that we even had lunch. The host was humorous and entertaining. We helped ourselves to some seafood chowder as a starter while waiting for our table to be called to the buffet.

The buffet selection included the most mouth-watering local dishes to try, so for any new visitors to the Cook Islands, an Island Night buffet would be an excellent way to get to know the traditional food here on the island.

Family of 3 selfie photo at Te Vara Nui Show looking down on toddler sipping on her juice
Family Selfie!

© Photos by Kida

The show started just when everybody was talking about how good the food was. Guilty as I was, none of us remembered any part of the legendary story told, as we were all carried away with the performance and dancing.

The show even kept my 2yo toddler quietly sitting on her bum for a good hour. Now, that was a miracle! Near the end of the show, the dancers of Te Vara Nui went off-stage to engage with the audience. All of that hype topped with a buffet selection of yummy cakes and desserts, we were all in stimulated food comas until the next morning.

Our toddler made a new friend with one of the pretty dancers and was still talking about her way past her bedtime at 11pm.

Te Vara Nui Island Show was not a collaborated event during our time in Rarotonga and we could honestly say book yourselves on an Island Night Show as this would be one of the unique experiences and the most memorable things to do in Rarotonga.

© Photos by Kida

Ariki Adventures

Operator: Ariki Adventures
Price Guide: $65-$190 (Depending on the tour, prices vary)

Don’t leave Rarotonga unless you’ve taken one of Ariki Adventures tours, seriously! If you’re travelling with a young one, get your partner to look after them, and book yourself either on one of the safaris, night paddleboarding tours or glass-bottom kayak tours. It’s worth it!

© Photos by Kida

All of the tours at Ariki Adventures were run by professionals. This turtle sea scooter safari, in particular, was the one tour I dreamt about doing and absolutely had to do on the Cook Islands.

Even though I wasn’t a confident swimmer and had never used a sea scooter through strong currents before, I felt really safe on the Turtle Safari tour after a detailed briefing and practising in the shallows with the instructors during sunset hours.

© Photos by Kida

I was super excited to see all the sea scooters that came with GoPro mounts because I had just bought a new GoPro Hero 7 Black for this Rarotonga trip and was really hoping I could capture something amazing.

However, I wasn’t confident enough to dive down and film the turtles up close myself. Our guide kindly offered to take my sea scooter with my GroPro on it and filmed some of the most precious video clips that I still treasure to date! The staff here at Ariki Adventures were really approachable and super fun. You can tell they were living the lives of their dreams through conversations.

Group photo of Ariki Adventures Turtle Safari in the water at sunset
Can You Spot Me? (top right corner)
Photo © Ariki Adventures

Ariki Adventures was one of those activities that I almost missed because I was searching for baby-friendly things to do in Rarotonga. Luckily, we came across Ariki shack in Muri and was convinced to go on the turtle safari. Now, this close encounter with the turtles is my most treasured memorable experience.

Turtle Safari at the most beautiful golden hour sunset over water
Turtle Safari at Golden Hour

© Photos by Kida

Black Rock Chimneys

Did you know, locals consider this place “the door to heaven”, a place where they can speak to their loved ones, and for good reasons. Every night, sunset falls into the ocean over a long stretch of corals and black rocks.

I definitely felt it standing on top of the black boulders and was fully immersed in the colours of the sunset, mesmerised by the beautiful hue of the horizon.

You don’t need to stay at Black Rock Chimneys for very long, but it is a place you cannot miss, making it one of the best things to do in Rarotonga!

© Photos by Kida

Walk Along Avatiu Harbour

While you’re in town, don’t miss out on an opportunity to take a walk along Avatiu Harbour! There are all kinds of water activities going on around there, and it’s a really fun walk.

© Photos by Kida

Storytellers Eco Bicycle Tours

Operator: Storytellers Eco Bicycle Tour
Price Guide: $79-$115, kids are half price (including infants.)

Storytellers Bicycle tour is a 4 hours tour around the inlands covering quite a long distance, but with stops along the way. You’ll get a chance to go for a swim and lunch is included, so spare half a day and explore Rarotonga from a different perspective. Moreover, there’s the option of hiring a tow-behind trailer for families with kids, making this tour one of the best family things to do in Rarotonga!

Unfortunately for us, we had to cancel our tour due to the torrential rain across the 2 days that we were free. So we can’t tell you our experience first-hand. However, you can read more on their bicycle tours on the website and perhaps tell us all about your trip in the comments below!

Other Things To Do in Rarotonga

We couldn’t fit everything we wanted to do during our stay in Rarotonga, partly due to the rain, partly because the activities weren’t suitable for our toddler. However, below are some of the other highly recommended things to do in Rarotonga that you can explore!

If you know of any other new activities on the island, please let us know in the comments below!

Included in this travel guide

  • Essential information about travelling to Rarotonga
  • Top things to do
  • Family-friendly accommodation & resorts
  • Restaurants & cafés
  • Packing list
  • Getting around
  • Bucket list
  • Blank page for notes

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In the meantime…

Which one of these activities do you think you and your family will enjoy the most in Rarotonga? Share your experiences with us below!

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