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Top Cook Islands Attractions

The first time you visit Cook Islands, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in Cook Islands to help with your itinerary planning.

Punanga Nui Market Punanga Nui Market
Cook Islands Museum Cook Islands Museum
Safari Excursions Safari Excursions
Cook Islands Cultural Village Cook Islands Cultural Village
Nightlife Nightlife

Punanga Nui Market

 Address Avatiu Harbour
 Hours Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat 8am-1pm

The Punanga Nui Market is the best place to go to if you are looking for one of kind clothing. The vender stalls at this waterfront municipal market sell tie dye bedspreads and tablecloths. You can bargain as low as you want here, but the prices are already very well discounted. The market has a great selection of T-shirts to bring back home as a souvenir and other cotton made goods that are worth stocking up on. The best place to visit the market is on a Saturday morning. Even though it might be packed with people, it is the market day and is the best time to shop since all the new merchandise comes in that day.


Cook Islands Library and Museum

 Admission NZ$2
 Hours Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm, Saturday 9:30am to 1pm, Tuesday 4 to 8pm
 Phone 26-468

Attractions on the Cook Islands are very limited, but if you want to get away from the sun and sea then visit the Cooks Islands Library and Museum. Here you can expect to find excellent examples of Cook Islands handcrafts. The museum has exhibits of a canoe from Pukapuka built in the old style, with planks lashed together; the island's first printing press (brought to Rarotonga by the London Missionary Society in the 1830s and used until the 1950s by the government printing office); and the bell and compass from the Yankee, a world-famous yacht that in 1964 wrecked on the reef behind the Beachcomber, where its forlorn skeleton rusted away for 30 years.


Safari Excursions

 Admission NZ$60
 Hours The 3 1/2-hour tours depart Monday to Friday at 9am and 1:30pm, Sunday at noon.
 Phone 23-629 or 61-139

The best way to see the Islands Mountains without hiking is to book a safari excursion with Raro Safari Tours. Not only with you get a better view down over the reef, but you can even see the ocean and take amazing pictures. The tour takes you to breathtaking heights on 4-wheel-drive vehicles with open-air trucks. The vehicles go up the Avatiu Valley and guides give humorous commentary about the native flora, ancient legends, and about what life was like in the old days when Rarotongans lived up in the valleys instead of along the coast. It is a fun way to spend your day on the island.


Cook Islands Cultural Village

 Admission Cost for the entire morning and lunch is NZ$58 (US$38), or NZ$54 (US$35) if you provide your own transportation to and from the village. The Cultural Village also does its own half-day circle island historical tour; it costs NZ$55 (US$36) and includes transfers and lunch. A full day combining the village tour, lunch, and a trip around the island costs NZ$85 (US$55) including transfers to and from the village.
 Hours The tour begins Monday to Friday at 10am.
 Phone 21-314

For those of you looking to get the true feel of how life is, and was on the Cook Islands, then the cultural village is the attraction for you. The village consists of thatch huts featuring different aspects of life, such as the making of crafts, cooking, and even dancing. Guests are guided through the huts and then enjoy a lunch of island-style foods, music, and dancing. The attraction is very similar to a Hawaiian luau. It’s filled with energy and will leave a lasting impression for years and memories that will last a life time.



Party with some of the local islanders and get to know their culture and style of living by going to a night club. Cook Islanders are some of the most fun-loving folks you will ever meet in the South Pacific. Every evening except Sunday is a party night, and especially Friday when the pubs stay open until 2am (they close promptly when the Sabbath strikes at Sat midnight). Not a dancer, no worries because even the shyest and most timid tourist will start shaking and moving to the drums of the islands beat. Some of the best pubs and clubs are, TJ’s and The CocoBar (tel. 20-340) is the second best joint for grownups (after Trader Jack's). Checking daily through the Cook Islands News can lead you to some other great hip dancing hideaways. So put on your shoes and dance the night away!


Cook Islands Travel Guides
 Frommer's Cook Islands
 Lonely Planet Cook Islands
 Let's Go Cook Islands
 Fodors Cook Islands