Cook Islands shopping is a fun way to spend some time and pick up some mementos of your holiday. On your shopping expedition, you can expect to find a beautiful display of handicrafts, art, one of a kind jewellery and clothing across markets and retail outlets.
The main area for Cook Islands shopping is on the island of Rarotonga in the capital Avarua although there are also some great shopping opportunities in Muri Beach. The majority of shops sell everything from clothing and jewellery to homewares, art, gifts and souvenirs. Shops are usually open from 9am to 4pm during the week and on Saturday, however, most shops are closed on Sunday.
Markets are also a big part of the Cook Islands shopping experience, with the highlight being the Punanga Nui Cultural Market where tourists enjoy the chance to socialise with the locals and pick up everything from fresh local produce to traditional arts and crafts. An event not to be missed, the markets delight the senses with colourful flowers, vibrant music and a lively atmosphere.
The islands are home to a number of exotic and fragrant flowers and natural fibers that are used to make soaps, oils, perfumes, wood craft and carvings, woven baskets, fans and hats as well as tivaivai (artistic style quilt) which are all available from the markets. The most common scents in the Cook Islands are gardenia, jasmine and frangipani.
There are also a great range of duty-free shopping options available in Rarotonga including perfume, cigarettes and alcohol. However, visitors should also remember that most goods purchased in the Cook Islands attract a 12.5% VAT or Value Added Tax, however this can be claimed back as you exit the country.
As of July 2015, American Express credit cards are no longer accepted in the Cook Islands. Visitors are advised to bring alternate methods of payment (e.g Visa, MasterCard). Bookings for resorts will also not accept AMEX as a valid form of payment.
For more information on currency, banks and departure tax see our Know Before You Go FAQs page.
Note: Unlike some Australasian nations, haggling is not considered polite in The Cook Islands and most major stores display fixed prices.