Cook Islands — Transportation
The Cook Islands Taxis and Car Rental
Cabs are available on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki and are often used for airport and lagoon transfers, as well as for day tours around the Cook archipelago. Services are a bit expensive even when traveling short distances and vehicles can be limited since only a few operators run here. Tropicool Tours and Transfers (+682-31-248 or 50-788) and Pacifica Taxi are the two main taxi companies serving Aitutaki Island.
Car rental is a more economical way to get around the Cook Islands, especially if you plan to travel to different villages and towns. There are plenty of companies in operation, including international brands like Budget and Avis (+682-22-833). Local service providers such as Polynesian Rentals Limited (+682-29-227) offer a wide range of vehicles to choose from with offices in the Avarua, Nikao, Muri, Aroa, and Arorangi areas of Rarotonga. Local hotels often have pick-up and transfer services for their guests and sometimes offer rental vehicles themselves. You can also rent mopeds, motorcycles, bikes, and scooters to get around. Contact Island Car and Bike Hire (+682-22-632), Polynesian Bike Hire (+682-29-227) or Popoara Rentals (+682-31-739) for more information.
You need a Cook Islands driver’s permit to be able to legally operate a vehicle on the islands (even if you are just planning to rent a motorcycle). Present your foreign driver’s license in order to purchase a temporary pass from the local police station. If you want to avoid the long lines in Rarotonga, consider getting your permit from Aitutaki, where demand is lower (and so are fees). Permits are usually valid for a year and are accepted on all the islands. A motorcycle driving test may be conducted (though rarely).
The Cook Islands Water Taxis
Boats and ferries travel between islands, though schedules are not definite, especially between the more remote destinations, which might only run once every couple weeks. Transfers between the islands and nearby islets are more frequent. Local newspapers are a good source of information when it comes to boat services. Local tour operators offering lagoon and island cruises can also be of great help.
The Cook Islands Trains and Buses
A bus service around Rarotonga Island runs both clockwise and counterclockwise on an hourly basis. The journey around the island (including stops) takes an average of 55 minutes. There are no buses on Saturday afternoons or early Sunday mornings and late evenings, and some may stop for lunch. Aside from this, the bus is a pretty reliable means of getting around Rarotonga. You may buy a book of 10 tickets or a day pass if you intend to use the service regularly. Stops are well marked and bus shelters are available to wait in.