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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.

We all know you don't go travelling to sit in a metal tube and go to bed in a different place. Holidays are all about the cool things you can do while you're there!

This place has a huge range of things to do. Here are some ideas to kick off your trip to Rarotonga:

Have some time up your sleeve? Go to our Rarotonga things to do page for a full range of options.


Top Rarotonga Flight & Hotel Packages

2021 Rarotonga holiday deals

Rarotonga Flight Deals

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Top Rarotonga Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 220 properties in Rarotonga
Club Raro Resort NZ$147
Reviewed on 10 Mar. 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

    Clean and tidy. Good white sand beach. Staff is friendly and accommodating.

    Muri Beachcomber
    Reviewed on 21 Mar. 2020
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    Muri Beachcomber

    Muri Beachcomber

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

      Fun and clean beach cottages! Beautiful views! Comfortable:) Nice little kitchenette:) Used the complimentary kayaks, SUP's and snorkel equipment:). Great value for cost. We would return!

      Muri Lagoon View Bungalows NZ$194
      Reviewed on 8 Mar. 2020
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      Muri Lagoon View Bungalows

      Muri Lagoon View Bungalows

      Aroko Drive, Hillside, Rarotonga
         
        4.0 of 5
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        The bungalows are very clean and have a nice distant view of the lagoon. There is a steep gravel road to and from the bungalows and the main road with a bus stop at the bottom and Muri Beach about a 15 minute walk. The neighbors next door run a business and can be noisy at times and their dogs bark ...

        The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium NZ$214
        Reviewed on 8 Mar. 2020
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        The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

        The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

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

          Awesome place to stay. Friendly staff and lovely surroundings.

          The Edgewater Resort and Spa NZ$185
          Reviewed on 19 Mar. 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

            It was convenient and had everything we needed, the wedding area is beautiful and the aircon was an awesome bonus!!!

            Pacific Resort Rarotonga NZ$696
            Reviewed on 16 Mar. 2020
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            Pacific Resort Rarotonga

            Pacific Resort Rarotonga

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

              We loved this resort! The staff and amenities were amazing! We were able to SUP every morning in the gorgeous lagoon, then eat a fabulous continental style breakfast, kayak out to the island and snorkel until the afternoon! So much fun! The food at the resort restaurant is really good! Breakfast ...

              Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
              Reviewed on 24 Feb. 2020
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              Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa

              Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa

              Avarua, PO Box 790 , Rarotonga
                 
                4.7 of 5
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Everything about Te Manava is AMAZING! The villas are spacious, equipped with everything you could possibly need, private, and CLEAN. Staying at Te Manava was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip and having Jane there to help with ALL my questions made it that much better. Bonuses: - Laundy ...

                Muri Beach Club NZ$660
                Reviewed on 24 Mar. 2020
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                Muri Beach Club

                Muri Beach Club

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

                  Loved the pool, and the showers at poolside. Paddle boards and kayaks were a positive bonus. Enjoyed breakfast good variety of meals.

                  Top Activities in Rarotonga

                  See all 32 activities in Rarotonga