12 of Rarotonga’s Best Beaches and Swimming Spots: An Islander Reveals it All

Rarotonga Beaches

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Having lived in Rarotonga for over four years and took every opportunity to explore its magnificent beaches, we know the ins and outs of sunbathing spots, swimming spots, and Rarotonga’s best beaches.

Rarotonga has tropical white sandy beaches primarily situated in the west, south, part of the east coasts, and very limited on the northern side. When on the beach, take note of the sun’s movement and where the shady areas are, as there are no umbrellas to hire. Also, take precautions to protect yourself against the sun’s rays and venomous fish in the waters.

Let’s get into the details of what it’s like on Rarotonga Beaches, where to get some stuff you might need for your beach outings, and where the fabulous beaches are.

What to Expect on Rarotonga’s Best Beaches

Although the Cook Islands, by default Rarotonga, received 170,000 visitors, at its pre-Covid peak, curiously beach facilities remain minimal.

For example, you cannot go to the beach expecting to hire recliners or umbrellas. You will most certainly not find the guy coming around with cold drinks or ice creams for sale. When you go to the beaches on Rarotonga, unless you at one of the few resorts, you will need to bring along your refreshments and beach furnisher.

Apart from the beaches in Muri, most other beaches do not have any shops nearby where you can buy your kids the traditional buckets, spades, and those inflatable water toys. You will have to bring those along to the beach.

What you will get are white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise and blue water.

Away from Muri beach, you are likely to be surprised at how secluded most beaches are, particularly during the week. It often feels as if you have your private paradise all to yourself.

Rarotonga’s Beach Etiquette

Rarotonga is very relaxed when it comes to the use of their beaches.

The Cook Islands is a member of the commonwealth, and as such, the beaches are the queen’s property, making it accessible to all. There are no private beaches on Rarotonga, leaving you free to explore them all.

While the beaches are available to all, Rarotonga’s will expect that you show respect for the environment and the people living close by in return. To this end, keep noise levels down and take your waste with you when you leave. The Cook Islands does not tolerate nudity on its beaches.

Rarotonga’s Sun and Wind Movement and its Effect on the Beaches

The sun rises on Muri’s side and sets in Arorangi. Plan your beach day around the sun’s movement.

Tropical beaches are associated with lush vegetation and high palm trees, Rarotonga being no exception. When the sun rises in the east, the western beaches are in the shade until about midday. And vice versa, of course.

In summer,r the beaches in the south get a good amount of sun mixed with shade. Some beaches in the south offer shady picnic areas alongside the beaches. In winter, the southern coast gets the cold south-easterly wind that can howl. It makes this side a rather cold destination despite its beautiful beaches.

Swimming in Rarotonga’s Waters

Not all beaches offer swimming opportunities. In fact, for a real swim, the best place is Titikaveka beaches. The lagoon is wide with a large stretch containing only minimal corals.

Many areas alongside the beach only offer places in which you can take a dip in the waters. Other regions have so many corals that it’s virtually impossible to enter into the water. Most of the northern coast is raw rock that is right up against the mighty Pacific Ocean.

For more on the dangers that lurk (do not worry, it’s not much) in the Rarotonga water, see … xxxx Use our table below to help you find the perfect beach for you. Sunbathing indicates whether there is a sandy beach, rocky beach, and palms offering shade. Swimming shows whether you can take a good swim or just a dip in the waters. Picnic/Restaurants/pub/shops show what facilities are in close proximately to a particular beach.

Rarotonga’s Best Beaches

Best Beaches on Rarotonga

Rarotonga’s Twelve Best Beaches

Below is a list of Rarotonga’s Best Beaches. It also shows which beaches offer sunbathing opportunities and whether they have palm trees for shade. Also shown is where one can take a swim or merely a lazy dip in the water. Finally, the table includes nearby facilities, i.e. Picnic spots, Restaurants, Pubs, and shops.

The last column is a rating by various travel sites as to the top beaches on Rarotonga.

Geo LocationBeach SunbathingSwimmingPicnic / Restaurant / pub /shopRated *
South-EastMuri Resort FacilitiesDipVarious#2
South  TitikavekaBeach, PalmsSwimSmall Shop & Charlie’s#1
SouthTikioki (Fruits of Rarotonga)Beach, PalmsSwim None
SouthTuroa (Seventh Day Adventist)Beach, PalmsDip  Picnic
SouthVaaimangaBeachDip Vaima’s & Wigmores
South-WestAroa Beach West and Marine Reserve, (Rarotongan)Beach (West of Rarotongan)DipRarotongan, Kaena#3
South-WestAroa Beach East and Marine Reserve, (Rarotongan)Beach, Palms (East of Rarotongan)DipRarotongan, Kaena 
WestBlack Rock (Social Club)Rocky/BeachDipSuper Brown Store#4
WestPokoinu i raro (Cooks Oasis)Rocky/BeachNone Anchorage, Kikau Hut
WestVaiakura (Sunhaven)Beach, PalmsNone  Pacific Fish & Chips, Baluga Cafe
WestKavera (At CITC Convenience)Beach, PalmsDip CITC Convenience
NorthTapae & Pue (Club Raro)RockyDipClub Raro
NorthNikao (Vaiana’s)BeachDip Vaiana’s

*Rated By Others

Here is a teaser of some of Rarotonga’s best beaches.

Rarotonga's Best Beaches
Black Rock 2
sunhaven Set 27
Vaaimanga Beach 2
Rarotonga Beach
muri beach 2
Pokoinu i raro
Vaaimanga Beach
Rarotonga Beach drone

You Need Sun Protection on Rarotonga’s Best Beaches

With the potential for limited shade in the mornings in Muri and afternoon in Arorangi / Black Rock areas, you must protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

Use SPF 50+ or 30+ sunscreen and consider SPF 50+ rash guards for maximum protection. Also, wear wide brim hats and sunglasses.

Pop into Avarua and get yourself an umbrella for shade and a cooler box to keep your drinks cold.

Protection Yourself From What’s in the Water

Wear protective aqua/water shoes when entering the waters for protection against stonefish. Watch where you sit as well.

Refrain from touching the corals or sea creatures. You just do not know what dangerous secrets they may hold.

Respect the environment and marine life. Do not disturb it. Do not stand on the coral.

Beach Wear: Where to Get It

Avarua, the main town on Rarotonga, has a couple of surf shops where you can buy popular branded adult beachwear.

Unfortunately, the range for kids’ wear is minimal. Best you bring your kids swimming and other wear for them to enjoy a day on the beach.

See our travel guide for comprehensive details of Rarotonga’s best beaches and a whole lot more.

Related Posts

For more about Rarotonga and its many attractions take a look at: (a) Rarotonga, Cook Islands and (b) 12 Stunning Things to Do in Rarotonga.

Download our Rarotonga infographic for a quick reference to facts and information about Rarotonga.

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