The district of Arorangi on Rarotonga’s western coast makes a great base to explore the Cook Islands. Stay in a waterfront bungalow, doze on white sandy beaches, discover magnificent marine life, lounge in funky cafés and learn about Polynesian heritage and culture.
The western coast of Rarotonga is protected from the southeast trade winds and is known for its sunsets over the sea. Amble barefoot along the shore and look westward as the sky turns brilliant shades of orange and red. Watch the moon rise in the sky before you settle into a beach bar for a cocktail and a platter of fresh seafood.
Rarotonga is a volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs that teem with marine life. Snorkel or swim in Arorangi’s lagoon or Aroa Beach in the southwest. Visit Black Rock in the north, where legend says Maori spirits ascended to the afterlife. North of Black Rock is the marine reserve. Look for humpback whales here between June and October.
The center of Rarotonga is mountainous and covered in thick jungle. Explore the attractions around the circumference and then trek across the island with a local guide.
The Saturday morning Punanga Nui Market, known for its black pearls, and the Beachcomber Pearl Market and Gallery with Polynesian arts and crafts are great places to pick up a memento of the Cook Islands. Visit the Tinomana Village at the Highland Paradise Cultural Centre, which has brilliant views of the western and southern coasts. Along the main road is the Cook Islands’ first missionary-built village, with the Arorangi Cook Islands Christian Church. Wander through the small cemetery in the front garden and sit in a Sunday morning church service.
Located in western Rarotonga, Arorangi is a 5-minute drive from the international airport. Navigate compact Arorangi easily by car, scooter or bicycle. A local bus trip around the island takes 45 minutes.