The Best Island Show in Cook Islands – Te Vara Nui

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Seeing an “Island Show” was one of the best experiences I had this year.

When you hear “island show”, what does it make you think?

For me, it was dancers and fire and tribes that show and tell the story of their ancestors. I pictured the islands of the Pacific, where many of these shows occur and hearing ancient tales of the locals.

In Cook Islands, there are a few options for these shows that occur throughout the week in Rarotonga.

The two main options are Te Vara Nui – Over-Water Night Show ($109 per person) and Buffet Dinner or Island Night at The Islander ($49 per person).

Somehow, I cannot find a direct link to book for the Islander option. I remember many tour agencies and shops on the island promote it, so once you are there it is easy to book.

I was visiting a friend of mine who was living on the island. She had not been to either show yet so we opted to check out the Islander for lunch and a drink first to see the setting.

The Islander Option

The Islander is close to the airport and downtown area. You can make a bar crawl out of it and it is a hotel also.

The afternoon that we visited, it was very sunny and bright. We asked the staff where the show occurs, and they showed us that it is at the main dining restaurant, which is just past the lobby with the pool in the middle.

There were many tables and a lot of seating, which we believe some of it has to go away to make room for the show.

Honestly, the space looked small and crowded if all tables stayed as is. We heard great reviews and I don’t doubt that it’s a great show. However, we opted to pay the $109 for the Te Vara Nui show which (already from pictures) looked a whole lot more spacious. This would get us better views of the show if we picked seats right by the water – which can work for everyone!

Let me tell you how…

Te Vara Nui

Spending $109 for this show was completely worth it!

It was a complete night – complimentary hotel pick up and drop off by their shuttle, buffet dinner included, and a show that I will never forget!

The night was about 4 hours long all together if I remember correctly – about 630-1030pm.

You enter the beautiful grounds of the village where there are gardens, waterfalls, and the ambiance of the island.

There is a an entire stage garden which makes the setting feel “local” and not like you’re going to a Broadway show or theatre from a big city.

Tables are everywhere surrounding the water. There are multiple stations for the buffet.

Drinks are not included but they were not much – maybe $7 per drink? They fill you up to the top also.

Staff are helpful and very nice!

When the show begins, they allow everyone to take a seat on the edge by the water to have the best view.

So – even if you end up sitting at the end of the table, there is plenty of room for everyone to move up and get a good view. Some people will stay at the table and trust me, no one will be in your way!

That’s what I did. Feet dangling and plenty of space behind me.

I watched the show that stole my eyes away. Island dancers – fire dancers – storytellers. I loved it all!

I won’t give away the legend, you will have to go and see it for yourself. But it is a great one of their people.

Verdict: Go see Te Vara Nui.

Also, for a FREE SHOW – head to the Saturday market and you can view the girls of the island dancing on stage and taking photos with you! That was a great experience also.

Now, check out some more photos I got:

Have you been to the island shows in Cook Islands? If so, which one?



Te Vara Nui is a show over the water where there is a stage and performers also are on a raft which circles the stage.

The “Legend of Tongaiti” is the story of the show.