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The perfect end to a great day in the tropics surely involves watching the sun set over the water, cold drink in hand. Take your pick from dozens of bars ringing the waterfront. Nightlife shenanigans usually hit their peak on Friday nights when the infamous Friday Night Island Pub Crawl kicks into gear and a good time is had by all. Saturday night is typically quieter, as many prepare for Sunday morning church.

Top 3 Drinks You Should Try

Coconut water

Long before it became a trendy elixir from Seattle to Sydney, Cook Islanders were drinking the antioxidant-rich water straight from the coconut shell. Coconuts grow in abundance throughout the islands and the water is often mixed into juices and smoothies.

'Real' local beer

Bush beer is a lethal brew made from fermented bananas, oranges or other fruit. Home brews were outlawed by missionaries when they first came to the Cook Islands, which naturally enough only served to increase their appeal. In recent years there's been a resurgence in popularity of the punch-packing alcohol.

Other local beer 

Locally brewed beer includes popular drops from Cooks Lager Brewery (Premium Lager, Original Blonde and Cheeky Darkie) and the Matutu Brewing Company (Mai lager and Kiva pale ale). Paired beautifully with just-caught seafood, local and international beers are widely available in bars and restaurants.

Top 7 Places You Should Drink

Punanga Nui Markets

Pick up local organic coffee, fresh coconut water and healing noni juice at the Punanga Nui Markets. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies - passionfruit, banana, papaya - are delicious. Saturday is when the market hums with activity as vendors and shoppers arrive from around Rarotonga and from the outer islands.

Matutu Brewery

Go straight to the source and enjoy the local craft brew at Matutu Brewery. Small group tours are offered twice a day, as the owner/chief beer maker shares insights into the history of brewing in the islands and its connection to Maori traditions.

Koteka Winery

Try local, buy local. At Koteka Winery, the wine is made from bananas and the vodka is infused with coconut and vanilla bean. How very tropical! Passionate owners share the family lore at the cellar door, where tastings of wines and spirits are shared.

Shipwreck Hut

At the Shipwreck Hut at Aro'a Beachside Inn, the house cocktail is the Opu Ra Magic. Served as you like it - with the spirit of your choice or as a refreshing non-alcoholic mocktail - it's a tropical treat. A shipwreck hasn't been this fun since Gilligan and the Skipper.

Bar hop

Join an organised bar hop and leave the nighttime driving to someone else. Going Troppo Nightlife Tour, Raro Pub Crawl and Rehab Nightclub's party bus are three of the best known tours, offering pick-up and drop-off at hotels and guesthouses, with a number of popular bar stops.

Sails

Enjoy a sunset drink at Sails, located absolute beachfront on the white sands at Muri. Monday-Saturday happy hour is 4-6pm. Wifi and SKY TV make this a good place to catch up on news. A local landmark for the past 20 years, it's always popular for afternoon cocktails.

Koru Cafe

Locals and expats will tell you the best coffee on Aitutaki comes from Koru Cafe. Espresso comes served as a short black, long black, cappuccino, mocha or macchiato. Those on a caffeine detox can enjoy a chai latte or Koru Vanilla Steamer, milk steamed with local vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon.