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Rarotonga

Travel Guide
Muri Beach featuring tropical scenes

Visit the capital of the Cook Islands to hike through mountainous peaks to hidden waterfalls and swim in sparkling blue lagoons off white-sand beaches.

Spend your days snorkelling, bush walking and relaxing on palm tree-lined beaches on this island paradise. Rarotonga is part of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean and is home to the islands’ capital, Avarua. As well as natural beauty and warm waters perfect for swimming, “Raro”, as it’s known locally, offers culture in abundance, including colourful festivals and bustling marketplaces.

While it’s the most populated of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga measures just 32 kilometres (20 miles) at its widest. The island is surrounded by a lagoon, with water that is shallow, warm and full of tropical fish. Beginner snorkellers can learn the ropes in the calm waters off Muri Beach on the east side of the island.

Rarotonga’s natural landscape is made up of small mountainous peaks, rivers and waterfalls. Trek to the stunning Wigmore’s Waterfall and explore hidden valleys and hillside forests on foot or by bicycle. Visit the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens to learn more about the island’s plants and wildlife.

Experience traditional island life in Avarua village. Buy fresh seafood, locally sourced fruit and vegetables and handcrafted souvenirs from the Punanga Nui growers markets on Saturday mornings.

There are no traffic lights on Rarotonga and obstacles such as chickens and coconuts often litter the roadways, making driving difficult. It's best to get around using the bus service that picks up and drops off on demand. It takes about 50 minutes to get around the whole island.

Fly in and out of Rarotonga International Airport. The best way to get between the Cook Islands is by light aeroplane, as boats and ferries are infrequent. The Cook Islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand and English is one of the official languages spoken on Rarotonga. You’ll also notice locals speaking Cook Islands Māori, or Rarotongan.

The wet season for the Cook Islands is December to March. It brings more humidity than it does heavy rain, but you’re never far from pristine waters. Plunge into blue lagoons to cool off, then throw a towel down on white-sand beaches and relax.

Where to stay in Rarotonga

The Edgewater Resort and Spa
The Edgewater Resort and Spa
3.5 out of 5
Avarua, Rarotonga
The price is AU$229 per night from 31 Jul. to 31 Jul.
Nestled on the beach, this Arorangi resort is 0.8 mi (1.2 km) from Black Rock and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Aroa Beach. Puaikura Beach and Rarotonga Golf Club are also ...
3.8/5Good! (886 reviews)
"I loved the friendly staff, very accommodating and helpful. If you have children, this is the best place for them. They have a coconut kids club which my son adored."

Reviewed on 13 Jul. 2021

The Edgewater Resort and Spa
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
4 out of 5
Aroa Beach Marine Reserve, Arorangi, Ara Tapu Rd, Rarotonga
The price is AU$243 per night from 15 Aug. to 15 Aug.
Nestled on the beach, this Rarotonga hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Aroa Beach and Wigmore's Waterfall. Muri Night Markets and Te Vara Nui Village are also within ...
4/5Very Good! (188 reviews)
"Great place for kids. Breakfast was nice. Beautiful location by the beach. Staff were excellent."

Reviewed on 26 Jul. 2021

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only
Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only
4 out of 5
Aroa Beach & Marine Reserve, Rarotonga
The price is AU$318 per night from 28 Aug. to 28 Aug.
Located in Tapere of Rutaki, this beachfront resort is in the historical district and within 3 mi (5 km) of Aroa Beach and Wigmore's Waterfall. Rarotonga Golf ...
3.8/5Good! (312 reviews)
"We spent two nights at the Sanctuary and wish we could have stayed much longer! The staff were very welcoming and happy to help us with our requests. Our package included a voucher for dinner and breakfast in bed. We weren’t able to use the dinner voucher due to pre-booked family dinners, so they ..."

Reviewed on 17 Jul. 2021

Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Avana Waterfront Apartments
Avana Waterfront Apartments
3 out of 5
Kaireva Drive, Ngatangiia, Rarotonga
Located in Takitumu District, this beachfront apartment building is in the historical district and within a 10-minute walk of Avana Lagoon and Muri Beach. Muri ...
4.4/5Wonderful! (57 reviews)
"Very homely, bachy feel..super helpful and caring onsite manager. The pool is pretty small, but the set up around it is fun bright colours, nice BBQ area and a bonfire site. We probably won't book again because the location is right on one of the 7 channels, which are sometimes dangerous depending ..."

Reviewed on 25 Jul. 2021

Avana Waterfront Apartments
Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
5 out of 5
Avarua, PO Box 790 , Rarotonga
Nestled on the beach, this Tapere of Titikaveka villa is just steps away from Tikioki Beach and Muri Beach. Muri Lagoon and Matutu Brewing Company are also within ...
4.7/5Exceptional! (35 reviews)
"Very good location, the villa was amazing very clean and spacious. No wifi, we had to pay for internet and the coffee, given that we stayed for 7 nights there were only 4 pods of coffee and we had to purchase the rest. The kitchen had everything we needed for a long stay but not the best value for ..."

Reviewed on 22 Jul. 2021

Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
Tianas Beach
Tianas Beach
2.5 out of 5
Ara Tapu, Ngatangiia District, South Muri Beach, Rarotonga
Nestled on the beach, this Takitumu District cabin is just steps away from Muri Lagoon and Muri Beach. Tikioki Beach and Muri Night Markets are also within 10 ...
4.2/5Excellent! (34 reviews)
"Great location, really nice and quiet location. Really good communication."

Reviewed on 7 Jul. 2021

Tianas Beach
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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