Cook's Passenger Transport is a reliable and cheap bus service which travels around the whole island and will stop anywhere you choose. With two buses running clockwise and anti-clockwise, you won't ever have to wait long. Alternatively hire a scooter, although you'll need to take a small test to prove you know your way around the only roundabout!
With only two main roads in Rarotonga, a 20-mile loop around the island, both the coastal and inland routes are pretty quiet. The calmer inland road is great for cyclists who want to explore the island at their own pace, with bike hire a cheap NZ $5-12 a day.
The most popular way to travel, hire a scooter or car from most resorts, downtown Avarua and Arorangi for around NZ $55-70 per day for a car and NZ$20 for a scooter. You will need to obtain a local driving license from the island police stations, for a small fee of NZ$20.
The only two options of travel to the outer islands are flying with Air Rarotonga or by cargo boat. Planes fly regularly to Aitutaki and other Southern islands with flights to the Northern group less so. You will find cargo boats are cheaper, however much less frequent and slower if your sea legs can stand it!
Diving enthusiasts will relish the chance to explore the underwater world of Aroa Marine Reserve; a protected sanctuary offering some of the island's best coral and tropical fish in abundance. Dive one to three metres beneath crystal clear waters for an up close and personal experience. At around AUD$70, even children can put their best flipper forward.
This designated whale sanctuary covers some two million square kilometres of ocean, so whatever island you're on, you are likely to see one! July to October, the whales swim close to shore so you needn't even venture into the water. In Rarotonga there are a number of prime spots for whale watching.
For an alternative island adventure and a tour that puts you in the drivers seat, hire a quad bike or 4WD on Rarotonga. Get off the roads and venture through hidden valleys, across rivers and rugged terrain, with views of the majestic Te Atukura Mountain. For families or the big kid inside you, lose yourself on a trail not often ventured.
Venture to the makatea cliffs of Mangaia, the oldest island in the Cooks for grand caves and staggering labyrinthine chambers. A burial site for past Islander generations, Mangaia is so peaceful it is almost haunting. With daily flights, although there are no 'official' tours, though the locals are more than willing to personally take you through them.
Do the climb the easy way. Rarotonga's safari tours offer adventure and panoramic views, all from the back of a 4x4 jeep. With trips running twice daily, explore the island's hidden natural beauty through a route normally inaccessible to tourists. Full day tours will cost around NZ$85 per adult and NZ$45 per child. Alternatively book a half-day tour and explore the rest of the island on bike.
Grab a local guide and discover the most famous cave on the island, Anatakitaki also known as the Kopeka Cave. Its limestone caverns filled with stalactites and stalagmites are truly extraordinary. The caves are also home to the kopeka, a bird unique to the island that locates its nest through echoes. A word of warning, make sure you wear something more appropriate than thongs!
Rarotonga's cross island trek is one of the most popular on the Cook Islands, from north to south in three hours passing Te Rua Manga, 'The Needle', named for its near vertical summit. Once you have tackled the challenge of the rainforest, finish up at Papua Waterfall for a well-deserved swim. Guided treks are offered twice a week, however, the route can be achieved on your own if a confident hiker.
One Foot Island or Tapuaeta'i Motu, is an idyllic island located in the south of Aitutaki Lagoon. Easily reached by boat, spend a day wandering barefoot on its pristine beach before enjoying a picnic prepared by the locals. Great for snorkelling, scuba diving or fishing. Couples will love to get away for a few hours. If you ever get stuck on an island, you would hope it was One Foot.
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