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Ultimate Female Packing List for Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Rarotonga Cook Islands packing list for women

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The following Rarotonga packing list was submitted by Delilah of Our Travel Mix.

Rarotonga is a tiny island in the South Pacific Ocean, where pristine beaches and crystal-clear water encircle 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

Our checked bags using the Rarotonga packing list
One checked bag for 2 people.

With tropical weather all year round, you’ll want to make sure to only pack lightweight 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 (and it’s probably pretty similar to packing for Hawaii).

  • 5 casual shirts (t-shirts 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 rain jacket 
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras (one strapless, one sports bra, and one comfortable one)
  • 6 pairs of socks


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 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, going on a lagoon cruise, eating, and snorkeling, 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 (See HPL’s guide for choosing the right travel shoes for more ideas.)

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 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 or reef shoes (optional)


how to pack for rarotonga, cook islands

We almost always pack travel-sized toiletries. I have an extra-small hairbrush and try to use 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. Another great option is to use solid toiletries

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
  • Bug spray for the mosquitoes 
  • Shaving necessities
  • Sunscreen
  • Sanitizer
  • Packet tissues
  • Makeup
  • Makeup towel


In Rarotonga’s hot climate, it doesn’t really make sense to wear 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


Rarotonga is the perfect opportunity to detox from technology for a bit (much like when visiting places like the Galapagos Islands, or any island really). 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 a terrible mobile network (when we went the entire island was down) there’s not much point taking too much.

The beach in Rarotonga

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 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 packed it. Add some useful medications – such as painkillers, 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


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.


Make sure you bring a towel with you. We always take 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.

Other Miscellaneous Items to Bring

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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Travel Resources

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