Rarotonga, Cook Islands

White sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, phenomenal snorkeling, friendly people, laid back atmosphere, not completely over-run by tourists and resorts (the resorts are all very small ones), good food, fresh fruit….

Paradise!

Rarotonga

The whole island is only 32 km around so it makes seeing it all very easy. Scooters and motor bikes are the standard method of transportation and can be rented for as little as $14/day (depending on how many days you rent it for). You must obtain a Cook Islands drivers license in order to drive there. You can either do that at the police station or at some of the rental shops where they give you a temporary license that must be upgraded to a permanent one at the police station within 24 hours. To be granted your license, you have to drive a road test and pay $25. Well worth it! If you don’t rent a scooter or bike, there is a bus that goes around the island both clock-wise and counter-clockwise and leaves Avarua (the main town) every hour and makes the loop.

Driving test beside the police station in Avarua

I stayed at a backpackers (Varas Beach House in Muri Beach http://www.varas.co.ck) and for $25/night got this amazing view the second I stepped out of my bedroom.

View from Varas Beach House

Muri Beach is the one spot on Rarotonga that has little islets that you can basically walk right out to. The water is very shallow and you can head over to one of these and spend the day with a beach entirely to yourself. There’s a lot of water-activities along Muri Beach including stand-up paddleboarding, kite-surfing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, lagoon cruises, snorkeling, etc.

Muri Beach

Muri Beach

The best spot on the island for snorkeling is over at Fruits of Rarotonga on the south end of the island…giant coral reef and an amazing array of tropical fish! The entire island is surrounded by a reef which makes it very protected and prevents large waves from crashing into the shore. The result is generally calm waters that are perfect for watersports and swimming. The most delicious smoothies are sold directly across the street from here. They are a bit pricey at almost NZ $5 but worth every penny!

Fruits of Rarotonga

Fruits of Rarotonga

Fruits of Rarotonga

Do I have to leave?

Go to the Cook Islands. And go before it becomes commercialized. It is an absolute paradise and tourism there will grow as more people discover it. Get there while it still holds the amazing charm that it currently does.
If you have a chance, go over to Aitutaki, another one of the islands in the group known as the Cooks. I didn’t have a chance to go since I was at the end of my trip and on a serious budget but it is apparently even more beautiful than Rarotonga. Flights are a bit pricey to get there but apparently it is an ideal honeymoon/romantic holiday location. The water there is even more clear and the snorkeling even more magnificent.

Must visits:

Trader Jacks –> for the open air bar, great live music, friendly bar staff, fantastic pizza and because I promised Jack I’d send loads of Canadians over to drink at his bar! If you ever do go and are lucky enough to meet the legend known as Jack, tell him I sent you!

Fruits of Rarotonga –> go snorkeling and then enjoy a smoothie as you sit in paradise!

Flame Tree –> really good restaurant in Muri beach. Had a fantastic meal of Ika Mata  (fresh line caught raw yellowfin tuna, lime juice, coconut cream, onion, coriander, red chili) and fresh line caught mahi mahi.

Whatever! Bar –> open air bar that turns into a busy dance spot on Friday nights. It’s busy most nights but bars in Rarotonga close at the stroke of midnight on Saturday night since it is a very Christian community) so don’t expect Saturday to be a wild night out.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Um…Oh My…this place looks AMAZING! Paradise is selling it short! How about you and I quit our jobs, move down there, and open a little B&B….and live happily ever after…the boys can bring back fish for dinner 😉 (Um not kidding!!)

    Reply

    • Sounds like a plan to me Nic. We can take up kiteboarding in place of skiing and I’m sure we wouldn’t even miss it all that much. Let’s do it!

      Reply

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