How to plan the PERFECT holiday in Rarotonga

Whether it is your first time holidaying in Rarotonga, or you are a frequent visitor to the Cook Islands, you want to maximise your time on the Island. We have devised a quick e-series to help you plan your perfect holiday in Rarotonga.

pool with a viewWhere should I stay in Rarotonga?

If you want the ease of being walking distance to most of the island attractions, then Muri Beach is the place to be. The sunrises are spectacular and the cooling Trade Winds are welcome when the weather is hot. If sunsets are where you are at, then the West side of the island is a great place to visit on the occasional evening.

Where can I find the best food on the Island?

Antipodes, Rarotonga's newest eating sensation, is located on the mountain side, near the hospital. The food is fabulous and the decor is outstanding. Another fine dining experience is Tamarind House. Sitting in the beautiful coral built building, watching the sun set while eating their delicious Seared Tuna, showcasing local ingredients and enjoying great customer service should be one of your top stops.OTB's Friday night Seafood Degustation is a favourite with travellers and you can't go past Trader Jack's, a famous institution among locals and visitors alike. If you are a fan of Keto, try Vibe cafe in Avarua. A local tip-go to Charlies Beach Bar in Titkioki any night or Viana's Beach Bar, near the airport, on a Friday evening. Both offer a great family centered atmosphere, the food is plentiful and the drinks flow easily.

Where can I get the best Coffee in Raro?

Rarotonga is getting very good at coffee! The cafes in Muri Beach, Vibe cafe in town and Beluga on the westside are vying for the best cafes for coffee. Local barrister, Neil Dearlove, opens his little coffee shop in Matavera daily from 7.30am-10.30am and it's fabulous...and here's the kicker. His baker son, Reuben, will have a few delicious pastries on hand, which are SUPER tempting!

bbqWhat is the Nightlife like in Rarotonga? Where are the best places to go out?

Of course you'd take one of the Island Party Buses for a fun and safe night out. It's a great way to meet new friends and not be worried about how to get home. If you'd like something quieter and more intimate, then a Sunset Tuk Tuk Tour is a memorable night too.

Where to buy food if I want to cook at my self catering accommodation?

When you are tired of eating out, and your poor tummy is crying out for something simple, then visit Prime Foods for export quality meats and fresh vegetables. If you want organic, then go to Wigmores Superstore for a wide variety of healthy, organic foods. When you've finished shopping, sit on your own peaceful deck and enjoy a glass of your favourite tipple. Teamed with a simple dinner of salad, bursting with flavour from the sun-ripened vegetables you'll find in Rarotonga, and a cut of your favourite meat or freshly caught local fish you can't go wrong.

Which bars or hotels have the Best Cocktails?

What would a tropical escape be without fabulous cocktails! Try the passionfruit margaritas at Sails Restaurant or the mojitos at Nautilus Resort for a taste sensation. Warning, they are very moreish. The good news is you can just stroll along the beach back to Manea on Muri when the night is done.

Where can I find a trust worthy Babysitter so I can have a nice date night with my partner?

If you've come with the children then you can still sneak a night out-or book a day tour which is unsuitable for children. Rarotonga's Babysitting Services are Cook Islands Tourism accredited and have a wealth of experience. Call Fern to arrange a sitter.

Where are the best spots to take selfies on the island?

Well, anywhere really! Fabulous sunrises can be captured right from the pool deck at Manea on Muri. Stunning beach shots can be taken anywhere along Muri Beach or any beach on the westside, and if you want a breathtaking moonrise, then Muri Beach is the place to be. Technicolor sunsets can be harnessed at Blackrock. Can you see the green flash as the sun takes it's final bow?

What is there to do in Rarotonga?

If you think that coming to a small island like Rarotonga will be void of activities, think again! There is a wealth of activities on offer to keep you entertained.

An Island Night is a must-do activity. Te Vara Nui Spectacular Overwater show (ph 24006), is situated a 5 minute walk from Manea on Muri. A more traditional show is offered at Highland Paradise (ph 21924) and they'll pick you up in their own bus and drop you back after the show.

A visit to Rarotonga wouldn't be complete without a Lagoon Cruise on one of the glass bottom boats. There are 2 companies which offer this activity; Captain's Tama's boys (ph 27350) are hilarious, while Koka Lagoon Tours (ph27769) offer slightly more child friendly humour! You won't be disappointed with either day out.

Other activities include:

  • Progressive Dinners on Monday evenings. (ph 20639) Go to locals homes, hear their stories and experience how they live while enjoying  home-cooked traditional fare.
  • A Scenic Flight over Rarotonga. Ring Air Raro ph 22888. This is a highly recommended activity, and something a different.                                                                                      
  • A Fishing Charter. Catch your own fresh Tuna, Wahoo or other fish while enjoying the company of your captain and hearing his yarns. The Marlin Queen (ph 55202) are always showing us their impressive catches!
  • Visit the Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre on the west side of the island (ph 23344). This is well worth a visit and an informative way to spend some time if you're in Rarotonga on a wet day.
  • The Tuk Tuk Tours (ph53686)  are an environmentally friendly way to experience the island. You can either take one of their evening cocktail tours or one of their shopping tours, where they'll take you to local vendors making products from local materials.
  • Adventure awaits at Ariki Tours (ph27955). This team have so much on offer! Turtle Tours, Sea Scooter Tours, Glass Bottom Kayak Tours, Shipwreck Tours, SUP and Snorkel Tours. Ariki Tours are a Cook Islands Tourism accredited company, so you know you are in safe hands.
  • Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours (ph23450)for a fresh look at the hinterland of Rarotonga.   
  • Pa's Nature Walks (ph 21079) give an insight insight into the history and the vegetation of Rarotonga.                                                                                                                              
  • Pamper yourself at one our luxurious Spas. Rumours (ph 22551), Te Manava (28150/20427)and Nautilus (ph 25125) Spas offer different packages with one thing in common. Absolute luxury. While you are here treat yourself!

What are my transport options? How do I get around the Island in Rarotonga?

There are plenty of transport options in Rarotonga. The Island Bus offers hourly services both clockwise and anti-clockwise during the day, and just clockwise in the evenings. Scooters, push bikes, e-bike and cars can all be hired from 4 depots within walking distance to Manea on Muri. A scooter license must be obtained if you don't already  hold a license, but you can travel on  a New Zealand license if you already have one. Prices vary, depending upon demand, and it pays to shop around. Your local depots are: Polynesian Rentals (ph24227), Island Car and Bike Hire (ph 21632), Pacific Cars (ph 58034) and Avis (ph22855)