Getting to and around the Cook Islands involves international flights to the main gateway, Rarotonga International Airport (RAR), and inter-island transportation options for travelling between the islands. The islands have nine airports, one international, two paved runways, seven flattened coral runways, and three of the islands have just an airstrip.
Most travellers arrive via Rarotonga, and airlines operating direct flights there include Air New Zealand, Jetstar Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Tahiti ,and Air Rarotonga. These flights typically depart from cities such as Auckland (New Zealand), Sydney (Australia), Honolulu (US), and Papeete (Tahiti), so to arrive from anywhere else in the world would mean an indirect flight, stopping at one of these places.
To travel between the different islands, you can take inter-island flights. Air Rarotonga is the only airline offering domestic flights connecting Rarotonga to the rest of the Cook Islands. Booking your inter-island flights in advance is advisable with islands like Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, and more, especially popular during peak tourist seasons.
On the main island of Rarotonga, you can use buses, rental cars, scooters, or bicycles to get around, as the island has a well-maintained road network. On the other islands, transportation options may be limited, and you may need to rely on scooters, transfers, walking, or renting a vehicle if available.