Ultimate Female Packing List for Rarotonga, Cook Islands

ultimate rarotonga packing list

The following Rarotonga packing list was submitted by Delilah of Our Travel Mix. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using them, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps to keep this site running – thank you!

Rarotonga is a tiny island in the South Pacific Ocean, where pristine beaches and crystal-clear water encircles a dense rainforest with towering, jagged peaks.

With high temperatures year-round, Rarotonga is a great place to visit no matter what time of the year it is. Plus, with little to do aside from exploring nature, you really don’t need to pack a lot for a trip to Rarotonga.

We visited for 9 days, which is much longer than most holidays to the Cook Islands (it’s a small island after all) and easily made do with one checked-in bag between two people. Our holiday was relaxing, but not in the ‘lie by the pool’ kind of way. We were out exploring every day, so what we packed had to cover this.

We’ll run you through our list of what you need to pack for a trip to Rarotonga, as well as the things you absolutely DON’T need to bring.

Rarotonga Packing List: Clothing

One checked bag for 2 people.

With tropical weather all year round, you’ll want to make sure to only pack light-weight essentials and avoid overpacking. Think breathable materials like linen or merino. These help to keep you from overheating in the high temperatures, especially compared to heavy fabrics like cotton.

Sports clothes also work great if you’re planning on physical activity (like hiking Te Rua Manga or walking from beach to beach).

A raincoat is a good idea all year round, but it becomes essential during the wet season from November through March. This article on the best time to visit Rarotonga is worth checking out if you can’t decide.

For a 6-10 day holiday, this list will be more than sufficient.

  • 5 casual shirts (tees and/or singlets)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 nice dress/skirt/outfit (for going out)
  • 2 casual dresses/playsuits/skirts
  • 1 cardigan/light sweatshirt
  • Pajamas
  • Swimwear
  • Packable raincoat
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras (one strapless, one sports bra and one comfortable one)
  • 6 pairs of socks

Shoes

Jandals, Thongs or Flip Flops

Whatever you choose to call them, these are incredibly useful when you’re traveling. They are versatile and a great option for any sort of activity around the island – from climbing over rocks to exploring the small towns.

Nice Sandals or Shoes

Personally, I didn’t bother with jandals (flip flops). Instead, I took a nice pair of sandals that were suitable for both walking around and wearing out to bars or restaurants.

You probably wouldn’t have any issues getting into a bar in Raro with bare feet, but I think it’s a good idea to have something a bit nicer. I recommend avoiding heels – you always hear about people twisting their ankles, it definitely happens. In Rarotonga probably more than anywhere else as the bars are typically found on the beach.

The only exception to this rule would be if you are visiting for a wedding, but even then, I’d probably choose low wedges instead.

Comfortable Shoes for Walking

If you plan to spend your time relaxing on the beach, eating and snorkelling, then you could skip shoes entirely. However, if you’re keen to get a bit adventurous then it’s worth bringing a pair of comfortable shoes. This is especially true if you plan to hike Te Rua Manga (The Needle), as this can get very steep and slippery.

I take my Adidas Ultraboosts (Amazon link) wherever I travel, without exception.

Aqua Shoes

If you have sensitive feet, then I’d recommend putting some aqua shoes on your Rarotonga packing list. We’ve found these crucial for a lot of islands, in New Caledonia especially where the rocks are not forgiving on your feet.

That said, Rarotonga isn’t too bad. You shouldn’t be standing on coral and the beaches are mostly covered in soft, white sand. If you’re short on space, these aren’t absolutely essential.

  • Jandals, Thongs or Flip Flops
  • Nice sandals/shoes
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Aqua shoes (optional)

Toiletries

how to pack for rarotonga, cook islands

We almost always use travel-sized toiletries. I have an extra-small hairbrush and try to use up makeup samples.

You can pick up some cheap mini toiletry bottles online (or you can save the little bottles found in hotels) and refill them with things like shampoo and body wash. We always use small silicone ones.

Regarding sunscreen, make sure you pack a large bottle – especially if you are sensitive to the sun. You will use heaps in Rarotonga, and it costs a fortune to buy it on the island as almost everything is imported.

  • Combined shampoo/conditioner
  • Combined body wash/facial cleanser
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Shaving necessities
  • Sunscreen
  • Sanitizer
  • Packet tissues
  • Makeup
  • Makeup towel

Makeup

In Rarotonga’s hot climate, it doesn’t really make sense wearing a ton of makeup throughout the day as you’ll definitely sweat it all off. On top of this, you’ll probably plan to be in the water a lot.

When I was there, I brought just a few essentials for going out:

  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Setting spray
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Mascara
  • Lipstick


Tech

Rarotonga is the perfect opportunity to detox from technology for a bit. I couldn’t give it up entirely myself, but it’s definitely worth cutting back. Not to mention, with slow WiFi common around the island and terrible mobile network (when we went the entire island was down) there’s not much point taking too much.

You will want to make sure you pack the essentials. A travel adapter is important if you aren’t from NZ, Australia or the Pacific Islands. A great tip is to pack one adapter and a power board so you can charge multiple devices at once.

Your phone, charger and a power bank are also good if you expect to be out and about all day.

  • Phone
  • Laptop (or maybe leave it at home!)
  • Camera, lenses, mini tripod, memory cards and charger
  • Headphones (for the plane)
  • Chargers (phone, camera, laptop)
  • Travel adapter
  • Power bank

First Aid Kit

You probably won’t need it, but if you do you’ll be very glad you have it. Add some useful medications – such as pain killers, as well as basic first-aid items – to your Rarotonga packing list just in case. You never know when you might cut your foot on some coral, get a headache or need relief from some frustrating mosquito bites.

This entire kit will fit easily in the bottom of your day pack:

  • Ibuprofen, paracetamol and cold/flu tablets – immodium could become handy too
  • Allergy medication including hay fever relief
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Band-aids/plasters
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Antiseptic cream

Miscellaneous

rarotonga packing list
A slice of paradise in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Bring as few miscellaneous things as possible – you really won’t need much.

Snorkeling Equipment

If you plan to snorkel (we did) then you can save a fortune by bringing your own snorkeling gear. Renting costs around $10-15 each time, which adds up quickly.

Flippers can take up a lot of room, but if you can fit them, they will make the entire experience much more enjoyable. I still remember the time I got chased down by a huge triggerfish – I’m sure my flippers saved me from getting bitten!

Snorkeling in Rarotonga is amazing, but bear in mind there are some spots that are extremely dangerous. Make sure to check out this article on the best places to snorkel in Rarotonga to be prepared for where you should and shouldn’t snorkel.

Towel

Make sure you bring a towel with you. We always take a microfibre travel towels wherever we travel. They are by no means luxurious (in fact they feel pretty weird), but they are so small and compact that we can pack them in our suitcases or daypack easily without the towel taking up the entire bag.

  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Travel towel (microfibre or 100% Turkish linen)
  • Water bottle
  • Waterproof armband (or keep valuables in your car)
  • Book/e-reader
  • Snorkel gear (or just rent this in Raro)
  • Backpack for day trips


About the Author: Born and raised in New Zealand, Delilah has been hit by the travel bug. Her favourite place in the world is still her home country, but she has a bucket-list that seems to be never ending. Follow her journey at Our Travel Mix or on Instagram.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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