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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 195 properties in Rarotonga
The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$162
Reviewed on 18 Jan. 2020
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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

    Great location, staff very friendly, offered lots of activities, grounds were well maintained.

    The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$179
    Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2020
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    The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

    The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

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

      The resort was great and had everything we needed. There was some confusion on the first night where we were put in the wrong room (garden room rather than a beachfront room which we had booked) but we were moved the next day with no issues. The kids club room could also do with an air con unit as ...

      Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only NZ$189
      Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2020
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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

        Reception staff attitude could be improved. Rooms are too close each other and could hear other guest’s noise, then sometimes did not feel private. Location, private beach and adult only policy are excellent. It was good that we could use all the facilities throughout the resort.

        Muri Beach Club NZ$381
        Reviewed on 18 Jan. 2020
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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

          Beautiful, quiet hotel. Clean private beach. Great water activities. Wonderful place. We want to go back!

          Club Raro Resort NZ$160
          Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2020
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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

            Breakfast was a little dissapointment And noisy pool area as people stop swiimming 11pm thought that was abit late Bathrooms need upgrade but overall fantastic place

            Pacific Resort Rarotonga NZ$690
            Reviewed on 3 Oct. 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

              Beautiful resort close to all the action. It was a short walk to the night market and restaurants. We can't wait to go back. The Cook Islands is very safe and the beaches are clean. Very friendly people. Thank you for such a wonderful time.

              Muri Beachcomber
              Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2020
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              Muri Beachcomber

              Muri Beachcomber

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

                Fantastic place, rooms neat and tidy with aircon bedroom. Small cont brekky, all bikes,standup boards and kayaks all included. Beach front on Muri lagoon, close to bus stop and all resturants etc. Service was excellent and friendly staff.

                Lagoon Breeze Villas
                Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2020
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                Lagoon Breeze Villas

                Lagoon Breeze Villas

                Aroa Beach, Beach Road, Arorangi, Rarotonga
                   
                  4.7 of 5
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  All the staff including security were friendly and tried their best for our request. Good location just in front of the beach. Useful restaurant info book.

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