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Rarotonga - Cook Islands
Rarotonga Information

About Rarotonga - Cook Islands

Rarotonga Island is the port of entry for North American Travelers. The islands enjoy a sunny climate all year round.

In this tropical environment there are many things to do: from trekking to Safari tours, Island Nights, local church visits, Black Pearl shopping plus much more.

Many visitors to Rarotonga partake in marine activities or simply enjoy relaxing on "island time", for which the Cook Islands are justifiably famous.

Rarotonga's Geography

Rarotonga is the vibrant center of the Cook Islands. Its circular shape is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests cascade to a palm-fringed shore. The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, which harbors a lagoon of clear turquoise waters and many inviting white sand beaches. Beyond the reef, the indigo blue of the ocean provides a vivid contrast and a bountiful supply of fish.

Rarotonga map, Map of Rarotonga Cook Islands

Visitors arrive at Rarotonga's International Airport on the North Coast. Rarotonga is where most visitors choose to stay, with increasing interest being expressed for outer island excursions. You will find an excellent choice of accommodation sprinkled around the island's perimeter.

Avarua is the main town on the island and the commercial center of the Cook Islands. During business hours, it has a friendly, bustling atmosphere together with a good selection of shops, banks, cafйs and visitor facilities. It is also the main port and host to many cruising yachts.

Getting Around in Rarotonga

As the entire island is only 22 miles in circumference, getting around is easy. There are two main roads on Rarotonga - you can circle the island on the Ara Tapu coastal sealed road, through the villages and past the beaches; or you can take the older inland road, which winds through fields of taro, pawpaw, bananas and local farmlands.

The motor scooter is a popular, fun way to see the sights, however bikes, cars and jeeps are also available from local rental agencies. The "Island Bus" offers a convenient low cost method of transport, operating regular schedules around the island (in both directions). It will pick you up and set you down anywhere on request.

Places to Stay on Rarotonga

Rarotonga accommodations are many and varied. Although there are no huge high-rise hotels, guests can choose from a larger hotel down to a small boutique villa resort or self-catering apartment on the beach.

Some resorts are isolated, while others are walking distance to restaurants, shops and activities. Contact us for assistance to find the best accommodation in Rarotonga for you.

» Browse All Rarotonga Hotels and Resorts


Activities in Rarotonga

Scenic flights
For a birds-eye view of Rarotonga, take a scenic flight around the island by light aircraft. The more adventurous will no doubt opt for a flight by "micro light", a real thrill, and definitely an experience to remember.

Sightseeing on Rarotonga
We recommend that during a visit to Avarua you visit the CICC Church, a magnificent old building of coral and lime construction surrounded by a very interesting graveyard. Nearby, you will find the Takamoa Theological College, the Library and Historical Society Museum and the National Culture Center. There are many other interesting historical sites scattered throughout the islands.

Cultural Village
The Cultural Village tour is a three-hour experience including demonstrations in weaving, coconut husking, fire making, carving, and local traditions and dancing, concluding with an island lunch & show.

Walks and climbs
The most popular of these is the cross-island mountain trek, which takes approximately four hours. This includes a stop at 'The Needle', a unique rock formation high above Rarotonga. The Takitumu Conservation Area offers gentle nature walks through lush forest and along mountain streams, where you will find a number of rare and endangered species of plants and birds.

Rarotonga is surrounded by some of the best beaches in the South Pacific. Most resorts are on the beach.

Safari Tours
Professional tour guides in 4WD vehicles can provide you with one of the most exciting and educational tours on Rarotonga.

Tennis and squash
Several hotels have international quality tennis facilities with coaching available. Squash courts are also available.

The Rarotonga Golf Club welcomes visitors to its 9-hole course at Black Rock. Clubs and trundlers are available for rental.

Lawn bowls
An international standard bowling green is situated in Avarua and visitors are welcome.

You can snorkel virtually anywhere inside the reef, in the lagoon on most islands. A prolific abundance of tropical marine life, colorful fish and interesting corals can be viewed by anyone who can snorkel. Ask locally for the most interesting and safest places to visit and remember to protect this fragile environment. Many accommodation establishments have snorkeling equipment for guests use.

Sightseeing Rarotonga by boat
Viewing the colorful marine life is made easy when cruising the lagoon by glass-bottom boat, or perhaps by a semi-submersible that also takes you beyond the reef. For fast, breathtaking fun, high-speed tours beyond the reef will get you close to whales (in season) and provide stunning views of Rarotonga.

Game and sport fishing can provide an exhilarating day's outing just beyond the reef. With no lengthy journey to fishing areas, the action commences as soon as you leave the boat harbor. For the expert or beginner, charter game fishing is very affordable and a fishing expedition can be tailor made to suit your needs. Charter operators provide all the gear necessary for every type of fishing, including saltwater fly and light-tackle sport fishing. The Cook Islands Game Fishing Club welcomes all visitors.

Sailing, windsurfing and kayaking
Windsurfers, sailboats, catamarans and kayaks are available for hire. On Rarotonga, the most popular place for sailing activities is at Muri Lagoon. The Rarotonga Sailing Club at Muri Beach welcomes all visitors. On Aitutaki, hire facilities are available at Ootu Beach and Akitua. Many beachside accommodation establishments have kayaks for guests use.

SCUBA Diving in Rarotonga
Not all of the Cook Island's bountiful beauty is to be enjoyed on land. The outer reef surrounding Rarotonga could be described as one of the best-kept secrets from the wider diving community. It offers a pleasing variety of sub-aquatic experiences for the discerning scuba diver looking for a "new" place to dive.

Humpback whales, hammer head sharks, gray and white tip reef sharks, green and hawksbill turtles and even game fish are all here to be experienced, depending on the time of year. Colorful tropical reef fish of every variety, with a few local species thrown in for good measure, plus the occasional whale shark, all provide excellent photographic subjects. Endless opportunities for both the novice and experienced camera buff alike exist during every dive and subject matter ranges from macro to mammoth.

There is the added bonus of diving in warm water with 100ft plus year round visibility. Most divers find "3mm shortie wetsuits" are enough protection through the cooler months, while during the summer divers get to experience the freedom of diving in just a swimsuit.

All dive sites are within an easy 15-minute boat ride from launching. This ensures that you get to dive the calmest waters each day on the leeward side of the island. Four dive companies on Rarotonga offer twice daily dive trips for certified divers and a comprehensive range of internationally recognized diving certification courses. Beginners dive experiences are also available. Dive trips and exciting diving can also be found on Aitutaki.

Diving highlights include:

  • Drop offs so sheer it's almost too easy to get "narced" and you imagine you are sky diving rather than scuba diving.
  • Negotiating 'swim-through' under and through the coral reef itself.
  • Fin up canyons that penetrate the reef edge into the shallow lagoon and drop to depths you wont believe. Where you can catch a lazy ride back over the terrain on the gentle current as it expels you back into the outer reef environment.
  • Following your guide through tunnels that will have you constantly wondering just what could be lurking around the next bend.
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Rarotonga - Aitutaki

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Dancing is Serious Business!

"Each island has its own special dances and these are practised assiduously from early childhood.

The highly rhythmic drumming on the paté and the wild and sensuous movements of both men and women virtually guarantee that Cook Islands teams win all the major Pacific dance festivals.

The Hawaiian hula and the Tahitian tamuré are probably better known because those islands have had wider publicity for the last 100 years but the Cook Islands hura is far more sensual and fierce."

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Cook Islands - Rarotonga Accommodations

To choose from resorts and hotels we visited and choose to offer on Rarotonga and other South Pacific islands use these tools:

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We offer South Pacific travel to other island destinations as well.

Contact us at Cook Islands Travel now. We will make your holiday on Rarotonga an experience never to be forgotten.image

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