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RarotongaCook Islands

Experience the glittering blue lagoons, white-sand beaches and laid-back lifestyle of the capital of the Cook Islands.

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Rarotonga is the most populated of the Cook Islands and is home to their capital, Avarua. Known locally as “Raro,” the island offers palm-fringed beaches, bush walking, colorful festivals and snorkeling in warm, clear waters.

The island’s circumference measures just 20 miles (32 kilometers) and is surrounded by a lagoon. Tropical fish and coral abound in the warm, shallow waters. The calm waters of Muri Beach are perfect for beginner snorkelers.

Rarotonga was formed by a rocky volcano, which collapsed to form a round island with small jagged peaks and hidden waterfalls. Visit Wigmore's Waterfall, which teems with wildlife. You can easily explore this and other natural attractions by bike or on foot. Another great opportunity to see the island’s flora and fauna is at the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens, which features much of the local vegetation.

Visit the lively Punanga Nui growers market every Saturday before noon in Avarua village. Try the local cuisine, including seafood, and enjoy live music while buying souvenirs, locally-grown vegetables and flowers.

Chickens and coconuts are just some of the obstacles often found on the roads of Rarotonga, and with not one traffic light on the island, you may find driving an eye-opening experience. You can also get around using the island’s bus service that travels both clockwise and anti-clockwise on the road circling the island. Bus drivers will pick up and drop off on demand. A round trip of the island takes about 50 minutes.

Rarotonga International Airport is the main gateway to the Cook Islands. Boats traveling between the islands can be very infrequent – sometimes weeks apart, with generally no scheduled ferry service – so flying is recommended.

The Cook Islands were once a British protectorate, with control later passed to New Zealand. Today, the islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand. English is one of the official languages here. Many locals also speak Cook Islands Māori, often called Rarotongan after the capital island.

Where to stay in Rarotonga

Top Hotels in Rarotonga

The Edgewater Resort and Spa
The Edgewater Resort and Spa
3.5 out of 5
Avarua, Rarotonga
The price is CA $185 per night from Feb 19 to Feb 20

Nestled on the beach, this Arorangi resort is 0.8 mi (1.2 km) from Black Rock and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Aroa Beach. Puaikura Beach and Rarotonga Golf Club are also ...

3.8/5Good! (886 reviews)

"It was convenient and had everything we needed, the wedding area is beautiful and the aircon was an awesome bonus!!!"…"

Reviewed on Mar. 19, 2020

The Edgewater Resort and Spa
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
4 out of 5
Aroa Beach Marine Reserve, Arorangi, Ara Tapu Rd, Rarotonga
The price is CA $166 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23

Nestled on the beach, this Rarotonga hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Aroa Beach and Wigmore's Waterfall. Muri Night Markets and Te Vara Nui Village are also within ...

4/5Very Good! (178 reviews)

"Awesome place to stay. Friendly staff and lovely surroundings."…"

Reviewed on Mar. 8, 2020

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
Muri Beachcomber
Muri Beachcomber
3.5 out of 5
Muri Beach, Rarotonga
Get Rates

Nestled on the beach, this Takitumu District resort is just steps from Muri Lagoon and Muri Beach. Te Vara Nui Village and Tikioki Marine Sanctuary are also ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (283 reviews)
Beautiful Views!

"Fun and clean beach cottages! Beautiful views! Comfortable:) Nice little kitchenette:) Used the complimentary kayaks, SUP's and snorkel equipment:). Great value for cost. We would return!"…"

Reviewed on Mar. 21, 2020

Muri Beachcomber
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Vacation Rentals in Rarotonga

Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
5 out of 5
Avarua, PO Box 790 , Rarotonga

Nestled on the beach, this Tapere of Titikaveka villa is just steps from Tikioki Beach and Muri Beach. Muri Lagoon and Matutu Brewing Company are also within ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (34 reviews)
Favorite place on Rarotonga!

"Everything about Te Manava is AMAZING! The villas are spacious, equipped with everything you could possibly need, private, and CLEAN. Staying at Te Manava was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip and having Jane there to help with ALL my questions made it that much better. Bonuses: - Laundy ..."…"

Reviewed on Feb. 24, 2020

Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
Natura Beach Pool Villa 1
Natura Beach Pool Villa 1
3.5 out of 5
68 Beach Road, Titikaveka, Rarotonga

Nestled on the beach, this Takitumu District vacation home is 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from Wigmore's Waterfall and 1.8 mi (2.9 km) from Aroa Beach. Puaikura Beach and ...

Natura Beach Pool Villa 1
Kia Orana Villas and Spa
Kia Orana Villas and Spa
3.5 out of 5
2 Ariki Road, Atupa, Rarotonga
The price is CA $270 per night from Jan 20 to Jan 21

Located in Avarua, this villa is within 2 mi (3 km) of Cook Island Christian Church (CICC), Cook Islands Library and Museum, and Beachcomber Pearl Market. Rarotonga ...

4.6/5Exceptional! (42 reviews)
Comfortable modern accommodation

"Great two bedroom villa with all modern facilities. Pool was clean and inviting. Although the location isn’t on the beach, it’s only a short drive to great swimming and snorkeling spots. DVD and book libraries a bonus too. Recommend for comfortable family accommodation."…"

Reviewed on Jan. 20, 2020

Kia Orana Villas and Spa
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Rarotonga

Top things to do in Rarotonga

Reviews of Rarotonga

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
23
5 - Excellent 63.888888888888886%
4 - Good
10
4 - Good 27.77777777777778%
3 - Okay
3
3 - Okay 8.333333333333334%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
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1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 17, 2020

Great destination!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Nov 16, 2019

If you like snorkeling this is the resort to stay at and the place to go!!

4/5 - Good

Rosemary

Aug 13, 2019

A wobdrrful trip if youre lokking to unwind. Typical usland prices but to ve ecpectec.

5/5 - Excellent

Joanne

May 5, 2019

My favourite place on earth!

4/5 - Good

JoMcK

May 4, 2019

We ended up arriving around the same time as the SE trade winds so it was very windy the entire time we were at Rarotonga. There was also a bit of a weather anomaly where it was a bit rainy and not very warm.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Apr 29, 2019

Unique place to visit-not too commercialized- lovely proud people. Beautiful Lagoon. Snorkeling paradise.

Cities near Rarotonga