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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.


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See all 126 properties in Rarotonga
The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$209
Reviewed on 21 Apr. 2019
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The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

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

    We had a great holiday at the rarotongan! The cleaners done a fantastic job of housekeeping. The first day we had disposable knives and forks but never got replaced our whole stay,are abit hard to eat any food we had in the room,there was a spoon 2 mugs and hot drink station available. It’s a lovely ...

    Club Raro Resort
    Reviewed on 8 Apr. 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

      Thank You for the amazing stay everyone was so kind and helpful..There was nothing I didn't like..

      The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$171
      Reviewed on 23 Apr. 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

        Great place for our quick stop before heading to the airport, I found the room rate well priced and the staff at the front desk were lovely and helpful. I find the lagoons on the other side of the island nicer but if you need somewhere near the airport this place is great!

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga NZ$409
        Reviewed on 14 Apr. 2019
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        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

        Pacific Resort Rarotonga

        Muri Beach, Rarotonga
           
          4.4 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Located on a stunning spot of the Cook Islands. Would totally recommend this resort to others.

          Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach-Adults Only NZ$280
          Reviewed on 11 Apr. 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

            Property was clean tidy and well laid out, staff are friendly and accommodating. Room is a little dark but helps keep it cool during the day

            Aroko Bungalows
            Reviewed on 16 Apr. 2019
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            Aroko Bungalows

            Aroko Bungalows

            Muri Road, Rarotonga
               
              4.1 of 5
              3.0 out of 5.0

              Good value for money and close to Muir Beach. Nice pleasant grounds and gardens are keep very well. Excellent property but bungalows are showing their age.

              The Islander Hotel NZ$190
              Reviewed on 13 Apr. 2019
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              The Islander Hotel

              The Islander Hotel

              Main Road, Panama, Rarotonga
                 
                3.4 of 5
                3.0 out of 5.0

                The staff were amazing, super friendly and extremely welcoming. The drinks were the cheapest on the island and the food was pretty good too! Not pricey! Would recommend for a younger couple or small group travelling. Super close to the main town and just across the road from the airport. Would stay ...

                Sunrise Beach Bungalows NZ$104
                Reviewed on 14 Apr. 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

                  Very helpful staff, clean, quaint and sooo close to the water. Our host suggested renting a car, that was good advice and easy to do. Just for a day or two to explore, then after we were familiar with what the island had to offer the bus system worked great. Loved the Sunday church service. The islanders ...

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