Visit Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The largest and most populated island of the Cooks - though not, by any standards, crowded - is Rarotonga. Volcanic, it rises 4,500 metres from the ocean floor, and although you can drive around it in just half an hour it takes a great deal longer to cross the mountainous interior.
Dense rainforests and sheer peaks drop to palm-fringed beaches and clear blue water, sheltered by an offshore coral reef.
Exploring the island
There are plenty of ways to explore the island: four-wheel-drive is the easiest. Cross-island treks, with trails passing the island’s most dramatic peak, Te Rua Manga, or ‘the Needle’ are also a firm favourite.
With no snakes, dangerous wild animals or poisonous insects, exploring on land is relaxing and rewarding.
To sea, dive boats and catamarans explore the Pacific in all its glory: an exciting world of giant pelagics and multicoloured shoals of reef fish on every side.
Local restaurants live from the wealth of the sea, with tuna, mahi mahi (dolphin fish) and parrot fish staple foods, and curried octopus a speciality.
Often these are followed by the island’s tantalising tropical fruits - pineapples, pawpaw (papaya) and bananas, which are also the prime elements of the refreshing island breakfast.
Suggested itineraries featuring Rarotonga
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Rarotonga, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Rarotonga
Places & hotels on the map
Photos of Rarotonga
Accommodation choices for Rarotonga
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Rarotonga. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
A small resort with a good range of facilities, Little Polynesian offers spacious rooms, a good restaurant and sweeping views over Rarotonga’s southern lagoon. With complimentary water sports equipment and a saltwater pool, guests have plenty of options for entertainment.
The beauty and tranquillity of the Cook Islands have been captured in the design of the luxurious Sea Change Villas. Each villa has its own private swimming pool and hammocks in which to lounge and soak up the sun and ambience.
Set amongst lush vegetation and tropical pools, Royale Takitumu Villas is an intimate and romantic spot. Its premium villas face directly on to the beach.
Located at Rarotonga's premier location on Muri Beach, the 64 rooms and villas of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga offer some of the best accommodation on the island.
Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa is the ultimate getaway, set on the beautiful Rarotongan coast. Each of its villas has its own courtyard with a pool, decked area and outdoor furniture.
Manuia Beach Boutique Hotel is a friendly Polynesian resort of twenty beautifully appointed duplex bungalows overlooking a lagoon, reef and the turquoise Pacific Ocean.
Rarotonga Beach Bungalows faces onto a wide, white sand beach located on the southern coast. The turquoise lagoon, which each of its bungalows looks onto, boasts one of the safest snorkelling areas on the island.
The Crown Beach Resort comprises of 22 villas nestled in four and a half acres of tropical garden, which leads onto a beautiful stretch of white sand beach.
Located on Rarotonga's west coast, Sunset Resort offers beachfront and garden studios, facing the island's famous sunsets.
Ideas for experiencing Rarotonga
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Rarotonga, and which use the best local guides.
This fascinating walk will take you deep into Rarotonga's lush interior to learn about the local flora and fauna, and their uses in ancestral medicine.
Enjoy a morning cruise in Muri Lagoon and snorkel and swim amongst tropical fish in this marine conservation site.
Enjoy a scenic flight over to Aitutaki where you will have a short tour of the island before joining your cruise, enjoying a selection of fresh tropical fruit whilst sailing out into the crystal clear lagoon.
This jeep tour will take you off the beaten track, away from the circular road around Rarotonga and in amongst the island's valleys and up its mountain tracks.
The Highland Paradise Cultural Tour takes you high up into the rugged mountains of Rarotonga to an open air museum, showcasing evidence of a historical lost village and the survival of the Polynesian people.
Travel by air conditioned minivan around the whole of the 32km circumference of Rarotonga, in the company of a local guide.