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Rarotonga

Surrounded by clear blue water, the capital of the Cook Islands has spectacular beaches, incredible wildlife and scenery, and a laid-back island lifestyle. 

Rarotonga, locally known as “Raro”, is the most populated of the Cook Islands. It's also home to the islands’ capital, Avarua. This South Pacific paradise has a lively festival scene as well as bushwalking opportunities, beaches lined with palm trees and warm, clear waters for snorkelling and swimming.

The island is fairly small, with a circumference of only 32 kilometres (20 miles). Tropical fish and coral abound in the warm, shallow waters of the lagoon that surrounds Rarotonga. The calm water at Muri Beach, in particular, provides perfect conditions for first-time snorkellers.

The island owes its existence to the collapse of a rocky volcano, which left a round island with jagged peaks and concealed water features. Take in the geological marvel of Rarotonga at Wigmore’s Waterfall, a destination teeming with local fauna, or see some of the island’s unique plant life at the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens. Many natural attractions can be accessed on foot or with a bicycle.

Visit the Punanga Nui markets on Saturday mornings in Avarua village. Sample the region’s cuisine or shop for flowers, souvenirs and fresh vegetables.

The safest way to get around Rarotonga is the island’s bus service, which travels both clockwise and anti-clockwise around the island. Each round trip takes about 50 minutes, and drivers will pick up and drop off on demand. More adventurous travellers may choose to drive their own vehicle, but the island has no traffic lights at all, and the roads are regularly blocked by coconuts, chickens and other unexpected obstacles.

Most visitors to the Cook Islands arrive at the Rarotonga International Airport. Flying between the islands is also recommended, since boats travel only occasionally between the islands and there is generally no scheduled ferry service.

English is an official language in the Cook Islands, which was once a British protectorate before control was passed to New Zealand. The islands today are self-governing, in free association with New Zealand. Many locals also speak Cook Islands Māori, which is often called Rarotongan, after the capital island.


Top Rarotonga Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 183 properties in Rarotonga
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$270
Reviewed on 19 Jul. 2019
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The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

Aroa Beach Marine Reserve, Arorangi, Ara Tapu Rd, Rarotonga
     
    3.6 of 5
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Loved the location, the snorkeling, the food, the service & ‘Dave’ the waiter always went above & beyond, with a cheerful smile

    The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$180
    Reviewed on 21 Jul. 2019
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    The Edgewater Resort and Spa

    The Edgewater Resort and Spa

    Avarua, Rarotonga
       
      3.8 of 5
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Lots of activities and amenities, professional and friendly staff. Amazing snorkelling on the beach in front of the resort.

      Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only NZ$386
      Reviewed on 18 Jul. 2019
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      Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

      Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

      Aroa Beach & Marine Reserve, Rarotonga
         
        3.7 of 5
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        I like how the bar was open 24 hours and how easy it was to get diving gear

        The Islander Hotel NZ$218
        Reviewed on 12 Jul. 2019
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        The Islander Hotel

        The Islander Hotel

        Main Road, Panama, Rarotonga
           
          3.5 of 5
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          The staff are so nice and friendly the island shows are awesome

          Club Raro Resort NZ$248
          Reviewed on 11 Jul. 2019
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          Club Raro Resort

          Club Raro Resort

          Ara Tapu, Avarua, Rarotonga
             
            3.5 of 5
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Nice & close to town and airport. Great happy hour. Facilities A bit dated

            Sunrise Beach Bungalows NZ$127
            Reviewed on 8 Jun. 2019
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            Sunrise Beach Bungalows

            Sunrise Beach Bungalows

            Main Road, Ngatangiia – Muri, Rarotonga
               
              3.7 of 5
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              The property was very good value for money. Comfy beds, lovely outlook and nice landscape. The hostess/owner is a friendly outgoing person who makes you feel at home and is very willing to help with any needs or concerns. We would definately return on another visit. Only slight negative was the quality ...

              Castaway Resort NZ$230
              Reviewed on 28 Dec. 2018
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              Castaway Resort

              Castaway Resort

              Arorangi, Main Road, Arorangi, Rarotonga
                 
                4.4 of 5
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Beautiful place Beautiful people. Castaway is the one place will always return to. 4 times have been there to Paradise. Will be back

                Muri Beach Club NZ$462
                Reviewed on 14 Jul. 2019
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                Muri Beach Club

                Muri Beach Club

                Muri Beach Point, Rarotonga
                   
                  4.4 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Excellent, would definitely return. Massage at spa was good. Only downside was stair/landing light coming in through front. Needs screen or blind.

                  Top Rarotonga Package Deals (Flight + Hotel)

                  Rarotonga Flight Deals

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