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What to Pack for Rarotonga – The Ultimate 2019 Packing List

When visiting Rarotonga for some rest and relaxation, only bother with bringing the bare essentials. Especially if you’re guilty of overpacking like I am (oops!). The following post explains what to pack for Rarotonga, packing tips and the things you simply DON’T need.

Rarotonga Packing List

Clothes to Pack For Rarotonga

The Cook Islands have great tropical weather all year round, so pack summer clothing that is loose. Materials like linen and merino are recommended. Linen is super breathable, allowing airflow and stays away from the skin. If you’re likely to overheat linen will keep you cool.

Find the balance between packing enough clothes so that you don’t have to worry about doing the washing and packing too much. 

Merino wool is naturally antibacterial so it lasts multiple wears without smelling. A common misconception is that you should only wear wool to keep you warm. However, merino wool is great in the heat and regulates body temperature by releasing heat and moisture from the body. 

My partner loves his Icebreaker Merino T-shirt for hot, tropical climates. They’ve also got Icebreaker t-shirts available for women too.

If you’re intending on climbing Te Rua Manga (the needle) pack sports clothes. We would highly recommend this as it is one of our favourite activities in Rarotonga.

Rarotonga travel clothes

The following Rarotonga packing list is sufficient for a 6-10 day holiday:

Males

  • 6 casual shirts (tees and/or singlets)
  • 1 button down shirt (for going out)
  • 2 pairs of shorts (one pair of chino shorts and one sports shorts)
  • 1 pair of pants/chinos (for going out)
  • 1 cardigan/light sweatshirt
  • Packable raincoat
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimwear
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks

Females

  • 5 casual shirts (tees and/or singlets)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 casual dresses/playsuits/skirts
  • 1 nice dress/skirt/outfit (for going out)
  • 1 cardigan/light sweatshirt
  • Packable raincoat
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimwear
  • 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

Bring shoes that slip on easily after going for a swim. I personally didn’t bother with this one – instead, I brought sandals that worked for the beach but were nice enough to wear out to dinner or a bar. You could always try doing it this way and if you change your mind, you can buy a pair of jandals in town for a couple of dollars.

Nice sandals/shoes

If you’re planning to go out for nice dinners, bars or even the pub, bring along a nicer pair of shoes or jandals. Don’t bother with heels – most bars are beachfront and you’re guaranteed to twist your ankle walking across the sand in a pair of stilettos. If you are going to Raro for a nice event like a wedding, consider bringing low wedges instead of a heel.

Comfortable shoes for walking

It’s always tempting to bring shoes that look good versus something more practical. But if you’re planning on doing lots of walking which usually happens a lot on holiday, make sure they’re comfortable. If you’re planning on climbing Te Rua Manga (The Needle), you’ll definitely need sports shoes with a decent grip as it can get quite steep and slippery.  I love my Adidas Ultra Boosts as they are extremely comfortable and still look good.

Adidas Ultra Boosts

Aqua shoes

This one is definitely optional. We found these more useful in New Caledonia where it is quite rocky by the shore and you could cut your feet. But, if you own some anyway or have sensitive feet AND have extra space in your luggage it doesn’t hurt to bring these along.

If you’re buying aqua shoes for the first time, make sure to buy some with rubber soles that help with gripping onto wet, slippery surfaces and offer more protection and sturdiness over neoprene soles. Don’t spend a fortune on these, you can get great quality aqua shoes for cheap. These ones are affordable, fit like a glove and do the job. Check out their cool designs.

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

Toiletries

When possible, pack travel-sized toiletries. This includes using travel bottles, a small hairbrush, and using makeup samples. You’ll save a lot of space AND weight. Opt for a roll-on deodorant or tube mosquito repellent rather than a spray can.

We always travel with silicone travel bottles. Find them here on Amazon.

Use multipurpose items i.e. a shampoo that contains a conditioner and a body wash sensitive enough to also be used as a facial cleanser. 

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

Makeup

Rarotonga has a tropical climate, meaning there’s not much point wearing makeup during the day as you’ll easily sweat it off. You might also be planning to be in the water a lot. For this reason, I only wore makeup if I went out to a nice dinner or bar. I went incredibly minimalistic and I don’t regret it. I also use a microfibre makeup towel so there was no need to bring makeup remover and wipes. It’s also a more sustainable option too which is a bonus! 

This is all I brought with me:

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

Biore Sunscreen Moisturizer

Tech

Travel Adapter

Rarotonga uses power socket/outlet I. If you live in New Zealand, Australia and many of the Pacific islands, you’re lucky enough not to need a travel adapter. 

We like to travel a lot and were sick of buying and carrying multiple adapters around. So instead, we’ve bought an international plug adapter with a surge protector. There are two USB ports and two outlets so you can charge two phones, a laptop and a power bank or camera batteries at the same time. We use both the Belkin one and this JOOMFEEN International Travel Adapter.

Power Bank

We often left our resort early in the morning and wouldn’t return until after dinner. We spent a lot of the day using Google Maps and the camera which seems to drain the battery. Bringing a power bank with us meant we didn’t have to forgo using our phones to conserve battery. 

The Xiaomi 20000mAh power bank allows for up to 10 full charges so we barely had to charge this up during our trip. 

  • Phone and charger
  • Camera, lenses, mini tripod, memory cards and charger
  • Headphones (for the plane)
  • Chargers (phone, camera, laptop)
  • Travel adapter
  • Power bank

First Aid Kit

This is one of the things you hope you’ll never need to use but bring a small first aid kit as a just-in-case. You never know if you’re stuck in a sticky situation where this would come in handy; things as small as a cut on some coral when snorkelling to a headache or relief from some pesky mosquito bites. 

Our whole kit is the size of a hand so we can take it around with us all day in a backpack. Don’t bother bringing the cardboard boxes which medications and band-aids are kept in as they take up too much space.

  • Immodium, ibuprofen, paracetamol, sore throat lozenges and cold/flu tablets
  • Allergy medication including hayfever relief
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Band-aids/plasters
  • Alcohol swabs

Minimal Miscellaneous

Raro is hot and humid no matter what time of the year you’re there. So, bring sunglasses, a hat and a drink bottle. 

Towel

For the beach, bring a quick-drying travel towel. Not only do these dry quickly, but they also take up a fraction of the space and weight a normal bath towel would. The last thing you want is a damp towel stinking out your bag. 

Since we spent everyday swimming and/or snorkelling, we have to carry them in our bag all the time. Whatever space we could save in our backpack was really important. We have always sworn by microfibre towels but others rave about 100% Turkish linen towels. If price is an issue for you, go with microfibre as they’re about half the price. We use this one – it is honestly amazing and super compact.

Waterproof Armband

When you’re out snorkelling or swimming, it’s recommended to leave all your valuables in your car, or consider buying a waterproof armband. This is big enough to fit your phone, keys, cash and cards. 

We’ve used The Moko Waterproof Phone Case for countless overseas holidays and have never encountered any problems.

Snorkelling gear

You can rent snorkelling equipment at all the major snorkelling spots for around $10-15. If you’re thinking of snorkelling quite a few times during your trip this could add up so it would be more cost-efficient to bring your own snorkelling gear given you’ve got enough luggage room.

I love using these Promate Fins and Mask Set – they help me keep up with my Fiance who’s a fast swimmer!

He uses this Cressi Snorkelling Set. If you’re looking for portability, this set with shorter fins is perfect. They easily fit in a backpack.

Make sure to check out our post on the best snorkelling spots in Rarotonga – some areas can be quite dangerous!

Packing Cubes

We used to think packing cubes weren’t necessary, but after using them for a long trip through Southeast Asia, we bring them everywhere. You’re able to squeeze so much more into a small space and it’s a good way to keep everything together rather than have your things sprawled out and disorganised in your suitcase. 

We started off with cheap, but highly rated packing cubes on Aliexpress.  Now we’ve upgraded to the Eagle Creek Spectre Packing Cubes.

  • 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)
  • Packing cubes
  • Backpack for day trips

What You Don’t Need

Heels

I mentioned this earlier, but there’s no need to bother with heels – walking across the sand in them at beachfront bars takes some serious skill. Take a nice pair of flats instead or if you must bring heels for a special event, opt for low wedges.

Sarong

Sarongs make for a convenient cover-up at the beach. They also make great souvenirs so why not just buy one there? They’re available at the weekly Saturday market (Punanga Nui Market) and at souvenir shops at Avarua town. 

There are tonnes of designs to choose one so you’re guaranteed to find one you like. They’re also really useful if you’re travelling to countries where you need to cover your shoulders and knees in temples.

Umbrella

Umbrellas aren’t convenient to carry around. Just carry a packable raincoat in your backpack and you’ll be covered. You could also check with your resort – many of them have spare umbrellas for guests and will let you take one with you.

Thick Jacket or Hoodie

Temperatures rarely fall below 20 degrees during winter in the middle of the night and can be as warm as 29 degrees during the day. Don’t fill up your suitcase with a bulky jacket – just a light sweatshirt or cardigan is enough.

Travel Pillow

Most travellers to Rarotonga are from closeby i.e. New Zealand and Australia. Flights are only a few hours, so I’d recommend not bothering with a travel pillow. They take up too much room and let’s face it, the collapsible blow-up ones aren’t comfortable.

Packing Tips

Organisation

Pack all like items together in each packing cube. We kept all our chargers and cables together which make it easy if we were searching for something. We also kept tops in one cube, bottoms in another and had a separate cube for socks, underwear, bathing suits and pyjamas.

Have plastic bags and ziploc bags handy. They’ll be useful to keep laundry and wet items. 

Packing Cubes

Carry On

Keep your first aid kit, chargers, swimwear, toiletries (under 100ml) and an extra change of clothes in your carry on luggage. In the unlikely event that your luggage goes missing, you don’t want to waste your holiday buying all the essentials.

We’d often spend the whole day out at the beach snorkelling, walking about or reading a book. Instead of having to leave to grab a snack then come back to the beach, we brought a lot of snacks with us. Muesli bars, bliss balls and dried fruit came in handy when we got peckish. It’s easy enough to buy things at the supermarket but things are generally a little more expensive as a lot of packet foods have been shipped from overseas. 

Other tips

Email your bank to let them know you’ll be travelling. The last thing you want is for your bank to block your card thinking someone has hacked into your account.

Check the voltage capacity of your travel adapters and chargers. This may differ from your origin country.

Toothpaste doubles as antifog in your snorkelling mask. If you’re bringing your own equipment, rub some toothpaste onto the inside of your goggles before you head out to the day. If you’re renting, bring your toothpaste with you and run some onto the inside of your goggles before snorkelling.

Full Rarotonga Packing List

Clothing- Males

  • 6 casual shirts (tees and/or singlets)
  • 1 button down shirt (for going out)
  • 2 pairs of shorts (one pair of chino shorts and one sports shorts)
  • 1 pair of pants/chinos (for going out)
  • 1 cardigan/light sweatshirt
  • Packable raincoat
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimwear
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks

Clothing- Females

  • 5 casual shirts (tees and/or singlets)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 casual dresses/playsuits/skirts
  • 1 nice dress/skirt/outfit (for going out)
  • 1 cardigan/light sweatshirt
  • Packable raincoat
  • Pyjamas
  • Swimwear
  • 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
  • Nice sandals/shoes
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Aqua shoes (optional)

Toiletries

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

Minimal miscellaneous

  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Travel Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Waterproof armband (optional)
  • Book/e-reader
  • Snorkel gear (optional)
  • Packing cubes (optional)
  • Backpack for day trips
  • First aid kit

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