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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.

Popular Activities for your Rarotonga Vacation

Traveling isn't just about famous destinations and swanky hotels. It's about the experiences you have and the unforgettable moments you collect along the way!

Your trip to Rarotonga is just about to get really exciting. There are heaps of activities on offer, including:

If you'd rather check out the full range of activities, head to the Rarotonga things to do page.


Top Hotel Deals

See all 119 properties in Rarotonga
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$185
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

Aroa Beach Marine Reserve, Arorangi, Rarotonga
     
    3.5
    of 5, from 643 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    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 9 mi (15 km).

    Club Raro Resort NZ$147
    Club Raro Resort

    Club Raro Resort

    Ara Tapu, Rarotonga
       
      3.5
      of 5, from 437 reviews
      3.0 out of 5.0

      Located in Avarua, this beachfront resort is in the historical district and within 6 mi (10 km) of Beachcomber Pearl Market, Muri Beach, and Tikioki Beach. Rarotonga Golf Club and Muri Lagoon are also within 6 mi (10 km).

      The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$156
      The Edgewater Resort and Spa

      The Edgewater Resort and Spa

      Avarua, Rarotonga
         
        3.8
        of 5, from 662 reviews
        3.5 out of 5.0

        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 within 3 mi (5 km).

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga NZ$391
        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

        Muri Beach, Rarotonga
           
          4.4
          of 5, from 171 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Nestled on the beach, this Rarotonga hotel is just steps from Muri Lagoon and Muri Beach. Tikioki Beach and Koromiri are also within 6 mi (10 km).

          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only NZ$248
          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only

          Aroa Beach & Marine Reserve, Rarotonga
             
            3.7
            of 5, from 232 reviews
            4.0 out of 5.0

            Located in Tapere of Rutaki, this beachfront resort is in the historical district and within 3 mi (5 km) of Aroa Beach and Wigmore's Waterfall. Rarotonga Golf Club and Tikioki Beach are also within 6 mi (10 km).

            Aroko Bungalows
            Aroko Bungalows

            Aroko Bungalows

            Muri Road, Rarotonga
               
              4.1
              of 5, from 118 reviews
              3.0 out of 5.0

              Situated on the waterfront, this motel is within 6 mi (10 km) of Muri Lagoon, Muri Beach, and Te Vara Nui Village. Koromiri and Muri Night Markets are also within 6 mi (10 km).

              The Islander Hotel NZ$140
              The Islander Hotel

              The Islander Hotel

              Main Road, Rarotonga
                 
                3.4
                of 5, from 130 reviews
                3.0 out of 5.0

                Located in Rarotonga, this beachfront hotel is in the city center and within 6 mi (10 km) of Cook Islands Whale and Wildlife Centre, Aroa Beach, and Puaikura Beach. Rarotonga Golf Club and Black Rock are also within 6 mi (10 km).

                Sunrise Beach Bungalows NZ$93
                Sunrise Beach Bungalows

                Sunrise Beach Bungalows

                Main Road, Ngatangiia – Muri, Rarotonga
                   
                  3.7
                  of 5, from 145 reviews
                  3.0 out of 5.0

                  Nestled on the beach, this Matavera hotel is within 6 mi (10 km) of Muri Lagoon, Muri Beach, and Tikioki Beach. Koromiri and Tikioki Marine Sanctuary are also within 6 mi (10 km).

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