The Lonely Planet's 12 incredible experiences in the Cook Islands

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Saturday Market Day

Saturday is market day at the Punanga Nui Market, which is located beside Rarotonga Wharf in Avarua town. 

The Punanga Nui Market is open from 6am to about 11.30am on Saturdays, but as it usually starts to wind down around 11am we recommend you get there early! The vibrant Marketplace offers a wide range of fresh local produce, fresh fruit smoothies, traditional cooked foods, kebabs, pastries, fresh baked artisan breads, waffles, coffee, drinking coconuts (called 'nu'), black pearl jewelry, art, carvings, handicrafts, T-shirts, music and wrap around island "pareu". Dancers and bands often perform live which adds to the great island atmosphere. 

It’s a wonderfully enjoyable, colourful island market atmosphere, and well worth a visit. You can catch the Cook’s Island Bus to Avarua town from the Lobby next door at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium.

Sunday Church Services

Each Sunday Rarotonga’s beautiful, historic white coral and limestone churches fill with the soaring songs of worship of their congregations. Visitors are most welcome to attend Sunday services, but please observe appropriate modest attire of shirts and long trousers for men, and longer-length skirts or dresses for women, preferably with short or long sleeves. 

A bus from The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium's Reception leaves at 9.30am Sunday for the Cook Islands Christian Church and St Mary’s Catholic Church, both in Arorangi. A church donation will be much appreciated. 

At the conclusion of the service you may well find yourself invited by the congregation to enjoy island fruits and light refreshments in the nearby meeting hall. A lovely, authentic way to mix and mingle with local Cook Islanders!


Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands, and the main township on Rarotonga is Avarua. Avarua offers such essential services as the Post Office, banks (ANZ, Bank of the South Pacific, Western Union and the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI), pharmacies, the Police Station, supermarkets, Punanga Nui Market for local produce and crafts, a department store, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. There are several ATM machines located around town for your convenience.

On Rarotonga, business hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, and Saturday from around 8am until 12noon. Please note that banks close at 3pm on weekdays. Bank of the South Pacific is the only bank that opens on Saturday mornings from 9am to 12noon for teller services only. 

Supermarkets are open to 4pm on Saturdays, small local grocery stores keep longer hours, usually from around 7am to approximately 9pm, convenience stores around the island are generally open 6am to 9pm daily, and Wigmore’s Superstore is open 24/7 in Vaimaanga, which is 3.6km from the Resort.

Almost all facilities are closed on Sundays for religious observance, or operate on restricted hours; however, the 24/7 Raro Style Gift Shop / Convenience Store beside The Rarotongan Reception offers a wide range of necessities for guests. 

The Cross Island Trek

The Cross Island Trek is a favourite of those looking for something a little more physically challenging.  This four hour trek passes through dense tropical jungle on the way to Te Rua Manga "The Needle" which offers unbeatable views of the island and vast Pacific Ocean.  Take plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, mosquito repellant and your camera.

Wigmore's Waterfall 

Wigmore’s Waterfall (also known as Papua in Cook Island’s Maori) is the only waterfall in the Cook Islands. Reachable by hiking trail or four-wheel vehicle.