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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 185 properties in Rarotonga
The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$207
Reviewed on 22 Sep. 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

    Good location, good staff, nice sunsets. Bus stops within resort grounds and car rental place and ATM on site.

    The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$263
    Reviewed on 17 Sep. 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

      Long wait for checking in, over an hour and a half past check-in time

      Club Raro Resort NZ$234
      Reviewed on 18 Sep. 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

        Club Raro exceeded what i expected. Rooms were always spotless and clean. Always amazed how the cleaning staff kept the plsce so tidy outside Staff were so friendly and welcoming as well. For price paid for our room very happy with the hotel and 5 mins to town . Love it . Ill be back

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga NZ$470
        Reviewed on 16 Sep. 2019
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        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

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

          Liked the location, comfortable room lovely gardens,Didn’t like that you have to pay for hot breakfast, not use to it after traveling in Asia!!! Restaurant food and menu mediocre, not many places to eat out .

          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only NZ$356
          Reviewed on 19 Sep. 2019
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          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

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

            Like the fact it is adults only - nice staff good locations nice setting and good rooms

            Muri Beach Club NZ$462
            Reviewed on 26 Aug. 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

              acess to beach was good. would like acess to small sailboat for one person.

              Castaway Resort
              Reviewed on 29 Aug. 2019
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              Castaway Resort

              Castaway Resort

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

                Michelle and Paul are fantastic hosts for their resort. Plus they have upgraded their restaurant and added a Japanese menu. tTe staff is amazing in that they remember your name and your needs throughout your stay. It's a perfect location to watch the sunset, often augmented with a bonfire klto add ...

                Muri Beachcomber
                Reviewed on 19 Jul. 2019
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                Muri Beachcomber

                Muri Beachcomber

                Muri Beach, Rarotonga
                   
                  4.6 of 5
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Proximity to night market meant you could take your meal back to your room, or on the deck seaside, if market crowded. Take some ear plugs as 🐓 roosters make their presence known all along the beach, and the neighborhood 🐕 dogs are really friendly. Receptionists were excellent and very accommodating. ...

                  Top Rarotonga Package Deals (Flight + Hotel)

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