This is Why the breathtakingRarotongain the Cook Islands Attracts So Many Visitors

The Heart of Polynesia

finding Your Chillout Destiny

everything you need to know about Rarotonga, Cook islands

Rarotonga is the buzzing and busy main island of the tropical paradise Cook Islands.

It in the middle of iconic Polynesia – the South Sea’s heart – with its breath-taking tropical landscapes and centuries old culture. And it’s off the beaten tracks from mass tourism.

Raro offers a lot of incredible experiences.

The lagoon is a dream with heaps of white sandy beaches and blue-turquoise waters. Beautiful to explore the waters in many different ways and chill out. 

In contrast, the rough volcanic mountainous inland with its lush vegetation, rivers, waterfalls, offers fantastic hiking trails. 

Accommodations of all kinds leaves one with many choices. Be it on the beach or inland up on a hill, whether you prefer a quiet place or one a bit more crowded, modern or traditional, cheap or luxury. choices are plenty.

Variety also applies to the restaurant, café, bar, and club scene. Enjoy food & drinks on the beach while sticking your feet in the sand. Or experience fine dining with outstanding local cuisine. 

The entertainment takes you from talented music makers to traditional culture shows and events. 

It is a place for young and old, adventurers and peace seekers. The people of Rarotonga are warm and welcoming.

Raro is also the starting point for discovering all of Cook Islands’ fabulous and untouched outer islands.

Get Your Free Rarotonga Infographic Down Below Now.

Basic Info and Stats About Rarotonga in the Cook Islands

01.

Geography & Size

Part of the Northern Island Group 67 km²/ 26 mi², the largest of the Cook Islands Circumference: 32 km / 20 mi

02.

Getting There

Aitutaki is 260 km north of Rarotonga. Air Rarotonga has several daily flights between Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Average flying time is 45 minutes both ways.

03.

Language

The official languages are English and Cook Island-Maori, also known as Rarotongan Maori. Maori dialects of the outer islands differ a bit from the Rarotonga Maori.

04.

Geology

Rarotonga is a volcanic island. It raises about 4,500 meters/ 14,764 feet from the ocean’s floor. The highest peak over water is mount Te Manga, with 653 meters/ 2,142 feet.

05.

Inhabitants & Tourist Numbers

The island has 13,007 inhabitants, according to the 2016 census.
A total of 17,434 Cook Island citizens live in the Cook Islands

Rarotonga Offers the Bare Essentials in Its Infrastructure

01.

Airport

Rarotonga’s International Airport is located in the north of the island.

A short walk from the plane leads you to the small immigration hall with the immigration counters and luggage belts.

Outside, in a little arrival area, pick-up services of accommodations, family & friends are waiting for the passengers. Also, you can take a taxi or the famous island bus.

02.

Transport

Rarotonga’s only public transport is the iconic bus. It takes you for a ride around the island - either clockwise or anti-clockwise. All around the island, it needs about 50 minutes.

A raft of taxi services are on offer.

Several vehicle hire operators have cars, scooters, and bicycles on offer for hire.

03.

Tours

Inland, lagoon and ocean tours of all sorts is available on Raro. A variety of large and small tour operators offer tours and outings on land and water.

Rarotonga Needle

04.

Accomodation

Accommodation ranges from very basic backpacker type through to super luxury hotels.

05.

Shopping & dining

Rarotonga has a host of shops catering to many visitor's needs. However, luxury and technology goods may be hard to find.

Supply is not consistent meaning that many items may not be in stock at the time that you may need it.

Generally, goods are on the expensive side.

06.

Money

The currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). You can use the following means of payment Cash (NZD).
- Local checks of the banks ANZ, BSP and BCI.
- Local debit or credit cards of the banks ANZ, BSP and BCI.
There are several ATMs for the three locval banks – see below - around the island. Frome these you can withdraw money with a credit card or bank / Maestro card.

07.

Medical

The Rarotonga hospital is located in Nikao, uphill, on the Sanatorium road. Since mid of 2020, it hosts inpatient services only.

The hospital’s emergency and outpatient services are situated at the Tupapa Clinic, East of Avarua, on the main road. Dental services are available there too.

Paradise Adventures You Gotta Experience When in Rarotonga

South Raro’s lonesome Dream Beach

Raro is a South Sea paradise. And most visitors are there to do one thing, laze on lonesome tropical beaches, overlooking the ocean, sipping a coconut, and have an occasional dip in the warm waters. South Rarotonga has a beautiful long white sand beach with tiny bays and an incredible view over the lagoon. It stretches from the Avaavaroa Passage to the west, up to the Vaima Restaurant. And there are never many people around. Walk along that beach and find your special spot there, like the stunning Aramoana On the Beach.

Hiking on the Reef

During low tide this is one of the most captivating experiences you can have on Rarotonga. Make your way from the beach to the reef and hike on it. You are not only on the edge of the mainland, and right next to the majestic Pacific ocean. You’ll also have a unique view of gorgeous Rarotonga from a different perspective. You’ll discover lots of marine life on and along the reef rocks and coral banks. Make sure that you wear sturdy shoes as the reef is sharp and can be slippery. The most fantastic place to hit the reef is at the western part of Avaavaroa Passage (76). You can walk there for kilometers/miles.

Snorkeling in the Avaavaroa and the Arorangi Passage

Marine life is raging here. Snorkeling in these two passages is extraordinary. You’ll meet schools of small and bigger fish, turtles, eagle rays, and reef sharks along your way. Start your journey at the lowest low tide and in the right weather conditions only!

Reef Walk Avaavaroa 4
highland paradise rarotonga

Spearfishing with the Locals

Spearfishing is national sport number one and a way of putting food on the table. It is common on the entire Cook Islands, for all ages, and with all types of weapons. Join the locals to learn more about it and harpoon fish yourself. You can also ask the fishing tour operators at Avatiu Marina.

Explore the Highland Paradise area

The evening show with drums and dances is already a spectacular event at the Highland Paradise. But take the opportunity to visit it by day too. Walk through the amazingly lush green garden filled with Maori cultural spots – especially along the gorgeous Maungaroa Valley track.

From Noon to Late Night at Trader Jacks

Trader Jacks Diner is made for a lazy day around the bar, overlooking Avarua harbor and its happenings. You will encounter business people, seniors, young families, and dressed-up guests coming for food & drinks. Simultaneously, in the harbor, people meet for water sports, leisure, and competitions. And there is always great fun, be it with good friends or with a local music band.

Drinks on beach rarotonga

Adventures above and below the ocean

Whale season is whale watching time which could result in a close encounter. Deep sea fishing safaris are on offer. Two drive operators can drop you on many sites in the ocean and lagoon.

Dinner at the Restaurants OTB, Antipodes and Waterline

When it comes to dinners, nothing beats these “Big Three” in terms of the atmosphere - plus superb food. Try them all. At the “On the Beach” Restaurant, you have your feet in the sand. While Waterline lifts you on their first-floor dining deck, overlooking the beach & ocean at sunset. And Antipodes takes you up the hill and into a Mediterranean-Arabian style mix environment. Views from there overlooking Black Rock are just fabulous.

Fish & Chips at Sunset on Sunhaven Beach

Grab a portion of Fish & Chips from the Pacific Fish and Chip Shop and enjoy it while watching the sunset at nearby Sunhaven Beach. Two indulgences combined: delicious food and one of the best sunset spots on Rarotonga. Even better with a bottle of good French champagne

Explore the Backroads by Scooter or Bicycle

For a different side of Raro, explore the backroad. Take it easy, though, because potholes pave your way. With a scooter or bicycle, you have the right speed to look around and get an idea of where and how most Rarotongans live. Do the same in Avarua town – go discover th hidden areas.

Beach-picnic-rarotonga-sunhave
kayak rarotonga
Rarotonga-Mountains

Explore the Lagoon by Kayak

Launch your kayak at Black Rock and paddle down the west coast and further the south coast to Muri beach. Row leisurely and enjoy the scenery. You always find a place to rest along the route, be it a lonesome beach or a restaurant or beach bar. Just make sure you have sun protection with you and enough drinking water.

Cross-Island Trek – Against the Current

Start your Island-crossing adventure in the morning hours at Papua Waterfall. It’s incredible to see the first sunrays touching the Papua river through the rainforest while you walk along. It is so peaceful and unspoiled. When you arrive at The Needle – the highest point of the trail with its gorgeous outlook, most hikers already passed it. The good news is that by hike from this direction, you’ll walk the steepest part of the trail downhill instead of uphill. PS: You can read the signposting of the path also if you walk in the opposite direction.

Get your Polynesian Tattoo

You have the choice between a handful of extraordinary tattoo artists on Raro - and you should make use of this fact. Their work ranges from fine to bold, across all Polynesian countries’ tattoo styles. But they all have one in common: each artist creates a unique piece of art on your skin, reflecting your personality.

IMG 2952 scaled

Like what you've learnt about Rarotonga so far?

We have tons more info in our Cook Island Travel Guide

The Cook Islands Travel Guide is jam packed with details of Aitutaki. Contact information. Detailed maps with geocodes and much more.

Download our FREE handy infographic of Rarotonga

Our Rarotonga infographic contains essential information for you to plan your visit.

We have prepared detailed infographics for each one of the Cook Islands islands. Visit the pages of the islands for their respective infographics.

Click below to download your high resolution infographic of Aitutaki.

Latest Island Adventures

IslandAwe - Spas in Rarotonga
All Posts
IslandAweAdmin

8 Top Spas in Rarotonga

Looking for some much-needed rejuvenation amidst a tropical paradise? Look no further than the wanderlust-worthy Spas in Rarotonga! All Spas in Rarotonga are part of

Read More »