The low-down on Rarotonga

Published January 27th, 2016

The Cook Islands are South Pacific paradise at its best. Think castaway, picturesque desert islands of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and coral lagoons, so far removed from the hustle and bustle of the real world you’ll really be able to get away from it all. There are 15 islands altogether, the largest and most popular of which is the spectacular Rarotonga. Here you can laze the days away in tropical island paradise, discover fascinating ancient Polynesian history and culture, or explore the beautiful jungles and waterfalls.

Top Things to do in Rarotonga Hiking: If you're up for a bit of an adventure you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible natural scenery, as Rarotonga is blessed with thick jungle and mountains. Take a 2-hour hike to the gorgeous Papua waterfall and take a cooling swim in its pool at the end. Diving and Snorkelling: There’s some great diving in the Cook Islands, and it’s a good place for beginners with calm warm waters, good visibility and sites close to shore. Check out the fascinating Maitai Wreck, a shallow dive of a boat which sank carrying Model T Fords in 1916.

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Visit Te Vara Nui Cultural Village: One of the Cook Island’s best cultural attractions, this amazing cultural centre runs shows for visitors to introduce the cultures and customs of the Cook Islands. Sign yourself up for the Overwater Night Show and Dinner where you’ll watch magnificent traditional Polynesian dancing and music, and learn some amazing stories from the history of the region. Aitutaki Cruise: Take a cruise to the small island of Aitutaki at the southern end of the Cook Islands, and be enchanted by the world’s largest coral lagoons. You’ll be seriously wowed by the giant clams and tropical fish here and get to see some more of the gorgeous islands along the way. Muri Beach: This picturesque and popular beach is a great day trip. You can rent kayaks or snorkel in the clear, calm waters protected by a tropical lagoon. Fishing: Find your sea legs and hop aboard a deep sea fishing trip while in Rarotonga. If you’re lucky you’ll hook some seriously impressive catches including barracuda, wahu, marlin and mani mahi.

Where to Stay The Black Pearl at Puaikura: This small mid-range beachfront hotel is set in tropical gardens with a saltwater pool. Snorkel right out the front on the pristine beach. Castaway Resort: This adults only mid-range boutique resort offers self-catering, with views over the white sand beach and turquoise lagoon. Pacific Resort Rarotonga: A large 4-star, upmarket resort set on 5 acres of tropical beachfront garden.

How to Get There Rarotonga is the gateway to the Cook Islands, with an international airport serviced daily from Auckland with Air New Zealand. There are also weekly flights from Australia via Sydney with Virgin Australia.

Amy Dalgleish

Wanderlust pommie, currently living the dream in sunny Byron Bay.