Cook Islands Tours
Cook Islands Tours
4.5
About
Leave the familiar surrounds of your resort and venture out to the villages to experience true Cook Islands cuisine, hospitality and the real spirit of culture & lifestyle enjoying a three course dinner in three local homes. Be part of our family and get an insight into the day to day lives of locals in Rarotonga. A small string band will follow the touring group.
Duration: More than 3 hours
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4.5
116 reviews
Excellent
93
Very good
13
Average
6
Poor
1
Terrible
4

Nima
5 contributions
Feb 2020
I booked this tour without much thought as I thought it would be great to walk about and learn about Raro from someone first hand. This tour was the best surprise ever, Papa Ng is the village elder most of us '90s have heard about but never had. He has the presence and knowledge of a sensei with the kindness of a grandmother. The rich history of Avarua and how it came to be was explained with such ease. We were told about the modernisation of the buildings and their significance. One of my favourite parts was the personal stories Papa shared with us. He is learning about traditional medical using the flora and fauna of raro, which I hope will be passed onto the younger generations. One of my highlights was the chanting at the Marae, I may not understand the language but the energy and mana that was entrenched in that chant still sits with me today. I would highly recommend this and the crew is so lovely they had prepared light refreshments (tropical fruit) for us. <3
Written February 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

mrskazkel
Newcastle, Australia15 contributions
We found this dinner to be awesome. Loved meeting the hosts in their homes and learning about their food and land. Our other guests we travelled with for the night were from many different countries but we all came together as one for the night to experience so much. Not only did we learn about the locals but our fellow diners too and their culture/countries.
Thanks Ben for a wonderful experience
Highly recommend this tour. Keep up the great work.
Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi
Karen
Written May 13, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Paul
15 contributions
Apr 2019 • Friends
If you only do one thing when you visit Raro do this. It is an unbelievable opportunity to meet the locals, eat some of the best food on the island and have such a fun time.
You are invited into the homes of some of the friendliest people in the world who are happy to share their food, their stories and their laughter. Nothing is scripted and nothing is planned. Expect the unexpected and enjoy a great night.
Written May 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

John G
Mission, Canada41 contributions
Jul 2021 • Friends
Extremely disappointed as I am currently in Rarotonga and had the staff at the Rarotongian Resort book the Proggesive dinner and was there as the booking was made, we were told to be outside the resort at 5:20pm on Thursday July 1st and we would be picked up and to pay the driver $198 for the two of us. We made sure to be early and sat there for over 1/2 hr then went back to the resort reception who phoned and were told the next dinner wasnt till next Monday, no reason was given as to why we were left stranded and no attempt was made to contact us. I find this kind of treatment to be shocking in this post covid enviroment. We were really looking forward to making contact with locals and believe strongly in supporting local businesses. Wish them well but would suggest better communication with their clients. They had our hotel name and room number.
Written July 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
First, I sincerely apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience your experience with your Progressive Dinner booking. We now run the Progressive Dinner .twice a week as we are just starting up after been closed for 15 months due to COVID 19. To run the Progressive Dinner we need a minimum of ten people. As we are just building up sometimes the minimum number is not reached. When persons book, if the number has not been reached at the time, we advise them that of the situation and we will advise them 24 hrs before the scheduled tour if this is not going to happen. In your case we only had 4 for that tour so on the afternoon before the day of the tour our reservation rang the hotel. She could not make contact with you in your room so she asked the hotel reception to pass on the message about the cancellation. Our reservation has a note on this and the person spoken to at the hotel reception was Tai. She obviously failed to communicate to you the cancellation. If the tour was on that evening the first hosting home is only a mile away and the driver stays with the tour, so he could have come back and picked you up. That is in the unlikely event of you missing out on your first pickup. To make up for your disappointment, we would like to offer you and your partner a free Progressive Dinner tour on your next trip to Rarotonga. Just contact me and mention your July 21 disappointment of missing out. Sincere regards Temu Okotai Managing Director ( using our reservations contact as I cannot find/remember my password) . .
Written July 21, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

YouCantKillAwesome
Palmerston North, New Zealand106 contributions
If you want to eat a lot of food... fantastic

If you want to learn about Cook Islanders and how they live. Disappointing.

We were hoping to learn about the people and their culture, but we felt like we were cash cows sitting on the porch. Each host told us about how important the money we bring is, and to tell our friends so they can make more money.

But we did not learn about their home life, or traditional foods ( we ate beef chopsuey, Thai chicken and pavlova).

If the organizers read this, please have hosts talk about their homes and family's, about the culture and history of the island. Perhaps prayers in Native tongue translated after.
Written October 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KiwiJake
Twizel, New Zealand73 contributions
Jul 2021
This is a great concept, but we were disappointed with a few aspects of our tour:
- The group size was very large (about 25 people, including some rather rowdy children); we were hoping for something smaller and more intimate. As it was, there wasn't much opportunity to interact with the homeowners.
- We only went inside one of the three houses, eating outside at the other two.
- The talk at the final house was great, but we felt we didn't learn much at either of the other venues, or during the bus ride (some commentary during the drive would have been great).

There was plenty of food, and it was delicious, and the hosts seemed like lovely people, but at $99 a head, we felt the whole thing was rather overpriced considering the number of people they were pushing through.

Visiting a church on Sunday turned out to be a better way to meet and mingle with locals.
Written August 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
We have noted the comment on the size of the groups. We are mindful of the size of groups to allow the interaction with your hosts. First the minimum size to operate the tour is 10 and the maximum is 25 a bus load. The minimum is set after discussions by host families who are committed to planning their lives every week around their hosting of the progressive dinner. Thus the minimum number makes it worth their time and effort to host. As to the ideal maximum size 25 is a bus load. I am willing to concede different people and cultures have different perception of what is a suitable or intimate size. For catering purposes 25 is not a big size at all for Cook Islands families. but 25 is the limit we have set. Now that the numbers are consistently in the 20's and upward for the two night we currently operate each week, we have decided to operate three nights a week starting next week starting next week. Because we are in the tropics most Cook Islands home will host any group gathering on verandas and open decks, weather permitting, much more comfortable and airy. As to learning from hosts. At your first stop, unless it was raining your host would taken you on a tour of their property showing their gardens and other outside amanities related to theri family life. At each host after your meal the host would take 10-15 minutes giving your group back group to heis or her family. Information ranging from where they come rom, their home set up. a little family history land they own etc. Its also a time for questions from guests. I am sorry if you feel that this was not enough because we have emhasized to our hosts that this interaction with guests is an important part of the Progressive Dinner experience. We have been running the Progressive Dinner tour for 145 years and we value all comments from our guests. Temu Okotai, Managing Director, Cook Islands Tours. .
Written August 9, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Karen551115
Ballarat, Australia291 contributions
Nov 2019 • Couples
This was a fabulous evening of great food and good company. We booked this tour at our accommodation. We were picked up by bus by Ben who was a terrific host. It was absolutely pouring rain but our group of about 15 people were still treated to wonderful food. Entree, main course and dessert were at three different locations but mainly in the north west area of the island. Drinks were also provided. Each course took place in the homes of local people. Lots of fun. This was one of the highlights of our stay in the Cook Islands.
Written December 21, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Kia Orana Karen, happy to hear that you loved our Progressive Dinner. Thanks for reviewing us. Will see you here next time! Meitaki Ma'ata
Written March 4, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

232albelev
Montevideo, Uruguay718 contributions
Oct 2019
This tour has to be divided in 3 steps. The pick up from the hotels. Ben, the driver, who seems to be the son of the owner of the 1st house (and looks like owner of the company) fetches the passengers as if they were packages. No HELLO, nothing, he just sits like the King of England and waits for the packages (we, the silly tourists) to come alone to the bus. No descending, no greeting, no opening and closing the door. Good manners completely absent. On top of that, he did not turn on the air conditioning, I asked for it to be turned on. He simply said OPEN YOUR WINDOW AND STAY NEXT TO IT. He hinted that the air con was not working, which I doubt, but for $99 per person they should get a transport with full confort and not submitting the tourists to a sauna session nobody wants. He also speeds up in the night in a road that has a maximum of 50kmh and he goes over 70kmh. I am used to speeds of over 200kmh but in proper highways, not in a rural style road unpaved in certain logs. When we arrived to the first of the 3 houses to be visited, he greeted us, turning to GUIDE MODE. It was not funny as we did not have much to choose but stand him. Second step, in the 1st house and old man (74) who supposedly is his father received us and took us to his orchard, and gave a 1 hour conference of every tree he had, and how he built his houses and how successful he was in life. It was boring enough as to make me run away but I did not have my car so I stayed. He also spoke in a very low voice which made it difficult to understand him due to his strong islander accent. Perhaps they do not realize that there are tourists who speak English with diffent accents and they should make it easy to follow the speech. The next 2 houses were ok, a simple introduction of the family and nice talk. Food was nice in the 3 houses, but only the 2nd had a proper place for each of us, sitting at a table. The other 2 were about holding a plate in the air, sitting wherever you can. The dessert was quite simple, nothing extraordinary not even new to the guest. Some fruits as at any hotel of the world (not just Cook Islander) and simple cakes.
Written December 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Kia Orana, We are very sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience on our tour. We want to thank you for taking the time to give us this very valuable feedback so we can improve our service. We want you to know that we take all Tripadvisor's reviews very seriously and that we already organized a meeting with all the people involved in your comments to address all the above issues and make sure that we set processes and supervision in place to meet the standards that we passionately strive for. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for staying until the end of the tour and for enjoying the food, the live music and the other two hosts with their stories and authenticity. We hope that you thoroughly enjoyed your holiday in the Cook Islands. Meitaki Ma'ata & Kia Manuia
Written January 15, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Barb S
Bonney Lake, WA11 contributions
Nov 2019
This was such a fun way to eat traditional Cook Island fare (delicious) and get to really know some of the locals and hear first hand about their culture. We enjoyed the music at each home and even had a sing along in the van. Such gracious people! Definitely recommend this tour!
Written November 12, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

earboy
Olney, MD54 contributions
Aug 2018
Overall a good experience although I thought it would be more intimate. Lots of guests trying to squeeze around the tables while the winds blew and the rain came down in sheets. Got to know the other tourist more than the hosts.
A manager/driver/ gave a speech at the end that overly emphasized the dollars that the locals would get for participating. While that may be true I'd rather hear about the other reasons. First stops, drinks and appetizers: juice punch and "bubbles" plus ika mata, arrowroot and a banana dish. A hot beverage would have been good that night due to the chilly winds. The ika mata was very good though. Second stop: main courses: fish (of course), chicken and side dishes. More than enough to eat. Third and last stop: dessert - mainly fruit with some baked goods and a carton of ice cream. I was hoping for more variety with the baked goods, not that I could fit much dessert after the mains. The host insisted we bring home the extra fruit with us. Some people got a quick tour of the large house. after the meal, we all hopped in the bus to return to our hotels and villas. Well worth a try.
Written August 9, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Cook Islands Tours - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)