The Cook Islands are known as the perfect place for a romantic getaway as an idyllic tropical destination. What you might not know is that it is also a very family-friendly destination, offering plenty of things to keep everyone (especially the kids) entertained.
To prove the point we thought we’d share our favourite 10 things to do with kids in the Cook Islands to get you excited enough to bring your family here for your next holiday.
1. Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre
Kids have an infectious sense of curiosity and a great affinity to the creatures of this planet which should be encouraged at every opportunity. The Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre in Aorangi is the perfect place to do exactly that.
It’s one of the newest attractions in Rarotonga and is already becoming a must for families that visit. The Eco Centre has a great mix of things to see to get kids excited. This includes its live animals like the impressive Coconut Crabs and amazing Stonefish which are both extremely hard to see in the wild.
They also have plenty of imaginative displays and a fascinating collection of artefacts that the kids can interact with. Their conservation work is also great to see and will give your kids a real appreciation for animals and the environment.
2. Highland Paradise or Te Vara Nui Over the Water Show
One of the great things about taking the family on holiday abroad is the fact that your kids can learn about unique cultures from other parts of the world.Cook Island’s culture is up there with the best and a great way to experience it is by attending a cultural dance show. One of the most highly-rated is the show at Highland Paradise described by some as “One of the best nights out in Rarotonga”. The kids love the dancing and the drums and they tell a great story that traces back to the forefathers of Polynesia.
Another fantastic show is Te Vara Nui Over Water Show which is great because it takes place on an incredible stage over water. The kids absolutely love this and the show is very interactive and entertaining. The buffet meal also goes down very nicely indeed.
3. Kids Club at Pacific Resort Rarotonga
One of the reasons why family holidays in the Cook Islands work so well is because the best resorts do their utmost to make sure kids have fun and have plenty to do.
One of the best examples of this (if we do say so ourselves) is the Pacific Resort’s Kids Club, open to guests of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga and Te Manava Luxury Villas and Spa. The Club runs from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm every day and entertains kids aged 6 – 12 years in a variety of different ways.
Some great examples include ball games on the beach, craft making at the beach hut, sandcastle competitions, octopus hunting in the lagoon and dance shows. It’s so much fun the adults will probably want to join in themselves!
4. Lunch at the Mooring or Charlie’s Cafe
Part of the worry about taking the kids to any holiday destination is wondering if there’ll be anything there for them to eat. Kids can be a little particular at the best of times when it comes to food so it’s something you want to be sure about before you go.
Well, you don’t need to be concerned when it comes to the Cook Islands as there are some great eateries where the kids will have plenty to choose from. One great suggestion is the Mooring Cafe, rated as one of the best places for lunch in Rarotonga. It sits in a great location overlooking the water with plenty of grass and sand in front for kids to run about on.
Another great choice is Charlie’s Cafe with its awesome beachfront spot on Titikaveka Beach. Again the food is great and you can either choose food from the kids’ menu or pick a main for them to share between two. No shortage of space for them to run about here either and you’ll be able to keep an eye on them without having to leave your seat.
5. Mini Golf at Cocoputt or Aumata Mini Golf
Mini golf is one of those timeless attractions that seems to have been around for ages but never goes out of fashion. The great thing about it is that its something that everyone, young and old, can play and enjoy.
There are two great mini golf courses to try out for your family holiday in Rarotonga. The first is Cocoputt which has a great course and also has a family restaurant with a delicious buffet dinner on a Sunday night.
The second mini golf course is Aumata Mini Golf, about 10 minutes up the road from Cocoputt. This is the newer of the two mini golf courses and is very nicely landscaped with coconut trees, rocks, banana trees and more dotted around.
6. Muri Night Markets
Another great cultural experience to share with the family is to go to the Muri Night Markets, only a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Resort Rarotonga.
The chances are your kids may have never been to a night market before and almost definitely not a Polynesian one! The excitement they’ll have in going will be immense and it’s one that’ll also satisfy all the senses. They’ll have the sights of the lights and colourful people, the smells from the food, the buzz of the crowds and the sounds of the Cook Island’s music playing in the background.
The Muri Night Market is open on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5 pm so you don’t have to be out too late past the little ones’ bedtimes either.
7. Punanga Nui Market
Having just covered the Muri Night Market, there’s also a great market to experience during the day as well which is the Punanga Nui Market.
The Punanaga Nui Market is the local market which sees the whole island of Rarotonga come together every Saturday morning. While the night market specialises almost entirely in food, the Punanaga Nui Market covers all sorts of other things too like clothes, jewellery, souvenirs etc.
There’s also a stage which hosts live entertainment throughout the morning which is a great showcase of local talent. It’s all great fun for the kids with so many things for them to see.
8. Picnic at Black Rock Beach
There is no shortage of picturesque spots in the Cook Islands to enjoy but one of the best can be seen at Black Rock Beach.
Black Rock Beach is famous throughout the Cook Islands for its impressive black rocks that are actually large basalt rocks that sit just off the beach. Legend says that friendly spirits depart the Islands from these rocks which is a great story to set off a kid’s imagination.
The beach is a great one to pack a picnic full of Cook Island treats to take to enjoy the day. The kids will have plenty to do and can even climb the rocks and dive off them, so long as they are old enough and big enough to do so.
9. Snorkelling Cruise
The Cook Islands have some of the clearest waters found anywhere in the world that’s teeming with fish and marine life.
With some of the calmest waters in the world as well, it makes a perfect place to introduce the kids to snorkelling. Guests of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga amongst others can do so in a safe environment as part of a snorkelling cruise that’s organised by the hotels.
The cruise takes you around the tranquil waters of Rarotonga and its protected marine areas where you and your kids can enjoy all the marine and coral life there is to see.
10. Raro Reef Sub
One of the coolest things to do with kids in the Cook Islands has to be the Raro Reef Sub, a unique experience that opens up an underwater world unlike any other.
The Raro Reef Sub takes you out beyond the harbour and into the depths where you and your family will encounter sea life as you’ve never seen before. Below deck, through the viewing glass, you’ll see pufferfish, trevally, turtles, sharks and even whales if you’re lucky.
When you think about how excited your kids will be when you tell them they’re going on a submarine, coupled with the wonder of seeing all of the above so clearly, it’s something you simply can’t afford to miss.
Some fantastic things to do with kids in the Cook Islands
So there it is! Our list of the top 10 things to do with kids in the Cook Islands. As you can see, there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep everyone busy and happy. We hope you’ve enjoyed the read and look forward to seeing you here in a little paradise soon!