Jetstar’s inaugural flight from Australia to the Cook Islands landed in Rarotonga on 29 June 2023.
The non-stop service from Sydney to Rarotonga operates three times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Flights can be booked on jetstar.com and this new service is the only direct service between Australia and the Cook Islands at this time.
Jetstar’s new Airbus A321neo LR aircraft will operate the route departing Sydney at 9.30pm, arriving in Rarotonga at 7.00am the same day. The return flights leave Rarotonga at 9.00am arriving in Sydney at 12.30pm the following day.
Why the Cook Islands are great for families
Located halfway between Australia and Hawaii in the South Pacific, the flight time to the Cook Islands is approx. 5.5 hours non-stop.
The country’s 15 islands are famous for their crystal clear water and sensational snorkelling. Families with kids of all ages will find so many things to do in the Cook Islands – both in and out of the water. There are sandy beaches, calm lagoons, colourful locals and delicious fruits to try. Families can spend their holiday snorkelling, cycling, kayaking, fishing or simply playing in the sand.
The Cook Islands are in a free association with New Zealand, which means that prices are often in New Zealand dollars and you can use the currency in most places.
Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the most visited islands in the archipelago.
Visiting Rarotonga with kids
Rarotonga is easy to navigate (it’s just 32km in circumference) and provides lots for families to explore without needing to venture any further afield. The island is dominated by a volcanic peak, which more adventurous families with older kids might like to hike around.
If you want to get a feel for the island, jump on a local bus (they travel either clockwise or anticlockwise) and the round trip only takes 45 minutes.
4 fun things for families to try on Rarotonga include
- Visit the weekly Punanga Nui Markets and explore the stalls selling brightly coloured pareo (sarongs), black pearls and flowers. The kids will love the flower crowns and necklaces and trying the yummy tropical fruit.
- Check out Wigmore’s Waterfall, the only waterfall on Rarotonga. A top tip is to leave the car on the main road and walk down the path to the waterfall because the access road can be tricky to navigate due to tall trees and cascading streams. Bring your water shoes if you plan to swim and wear plenty of insect repellant.
- Submerge your family under the sea in the Raro Reef Sub. On this semi-submersible boat tour along Rarotonga’s northern coast you’ll visit shipwrecks and likely spot turtles, spotted eagle rays and plenty of schools of fish.
- Te Vara Nui Village is Rarotonga’s leading cultural attraction, located in Muri Beach. The Cultural Village Tour offers an authentic glimpse into the past, with demonstrations of traditional carving, costume making and story-telling, while the Over-Water Night Show and Dinner deliver an electric cultural performance with musicians, dancers and fire-breathing men. Kids can get involved and play the pate (log drum) or perform an impromptu hula. The show is surrounded by stunning rock gardens and waterfalls.
Read more about things to do with kids in the Cook Islands
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.