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About Rarotonga

Our Island Paradise

The Island…

Rarotonga is the jewel in the crown of the Pacific — amazingly friendly islanders, our beautiful tropical island fringed by a blue lagoon and swaying coconut palms, fantastic weather, warm welcomes wherever you go, a laid back attitude but with a focus on service and its one of the cheapest places to stay in the Pacific — operating under a currency equal to the New Zealand Dollar. Great for romantic holidays and family breaks, for groups of friends and individuals..and of course.. for weddings and honeymoons!

Just 34 km in circumference, this capital of the Cook Islands has plenty to explore; from the sealife in and outside the lagoon to bushwalks and safaris in the rugged rainforested interior. There is plenty to see and do on this one island, but if you should wish to explore any more of the 15 Cook Islands, Air Rarotonga has flights to Atiu, Aitutaki, Manihiki and more.

Bring your driving license as this is required to obtain a rental car or bike. If you do not have a current motorbike license you can sit the written and practical test at the Police Station for NZ$40. Visitors are required to wear a motorbike helmet and the speed limit is 50km/hr.

Snorkel, swim and kayak in the blue lagoon. Sail outside the reef and see spectacular vistas of the island. Eat at one of the many world class restaurants. Enjoy a dance spectacular at one of the Island Nights. Take a quiet stroll along the beach at sunset…

Rarotonga Quick Facts…

  • Population: approx. 13,000
  • Capital: Avarua (simply called “town” by the locals)
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • English is the most widely spoken language here, but many islanders also speak Cook Islands Maori
  • Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Virgin Australia operate regular flights from New Zealand, Australia and Los Angeles, USA
  • Scooters are a very common form of transport
  • The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls
  • No McDonald’s, KFC, or Starbucks

Airport transfers…

We recommend Cook Island Tours to transfer you from the airport — they are used to delivering our guests to some slightly “out of the way” locations! Visit their website at

Car and moped hire…

Avis —
Island Car Hire —
Budget —


Here are some of our all-time favourites on the island, but there are also many more!

Vaima — One of the best!! International Award winners from Trip Advisor — highly recommended. Just book with Dorothy and Cameron and mention us!
Waterline — Have a lovely meal on the beach and watch the sun go down! If you’re lucky, owner Chris may serenade you on his guitar!
Tumunu — An unusual thatched restaurant and bar with owner Eric willing to trade a few jokes!
Trader Jacks — Jack has been in Rarotonga for over 30 years and has established an impressive business empire including the famous Trader Jack’s Bar & Grill, a catering company and fish processing plant including a 10 ton per day ice machine.
Rickshaw — Tasty Vietnamese and Asian style cuisine, in a casual cosy garden atmosphere Muri, Ngatangiia, Rarotonga.
Tamarind House — This beautifully presented iconic restaurant: the Tamarind House Restaurant & Bar is located on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. A well restored heritage colonial house set on 2.5 acres of lawns sweeping down to the lagoon.
La Casita — Set in the heart of Muri village on Rarotonga, this Mexican street café serves a variety of dishes in a vibrant atmosphere. Fresh, authentic flavours, including vegetarian options.
Charlie’s Cafe — They opened Charlie’s in 2014 primarily as a beach hire business. Over the months, more and more people were inquiring about potential food or drinks they could purchase. So, they started small, and inch by inch built their way to where they are today – one of the island’s most popular beach café and bar.

High $$$ — Tamarind House, Little Polynesian
Medium $$ — Anchorage Restaurant at Sunset Resort, Vaima, The Waterline, Sands Restaurant, Trader Jacks, Pacific Resort, Charlie’s Cafe.
Smaller Budget $ — Rickshaw, La Casita, Tahiti Cafe, Bite Time (at the market) The Moorings Cafe (near Muri) and the Muri Night food Market (Sun-Tues-Weds-Thu)

Island Nights…

Highland Paradise — A spectacular stage show telling the story of our ancient heritage through dance. Visit
Te Vara Nui — Described by many as “world class”, Rarotonga’s finest dancers and musicians perform to ‘The Legend of Tongaiti’ by flaming torchlight on floating and fixed stages of our waterfall garden. Visit


The leading certifying dive centre in the Cook Islands, offering a wide range of internationally recognised diving courses and qualifications. Dive Rarotonga offers quality diving in a fun and friendly atmosphere. So whether these are your first bubbles, you are already qualified and you are diving for fun, or you want to progress in your professional diving career, they have dives to suit you! Visit

Game fishing…

Captain Moko —
Marlin Queen —
Dawn Breaker Fishing Charters — Visit on Facebook
Akura —
Seafari —

Outer Island trips…

Island Hopper can tailor make a package for you to visit Aitutaki, Atiu and other islands in the group. Visit


Saturdays are the main sailing day in Rarotonga- whether you’re an experienced sailor or just trying it out- the members of Rarotonga Sailing Club (RSC) will be happy to take you out for a spin. Be there 1pm Saturday for a closer look.

Watch this fun video about our island paradise…


GP Surgeries available around the island and A&E Department at Rarotonga Hospital in Nikao.


BSP and ANZ have banks in the main town of Avarua with full cash facilities. Additional ATMs are available around the island at Wigmore’s Superstore, Super Brown and Muri.

Real estate…

Now that you’ve been on holiday here… We find that many people who have been on holiday here decide that they would love to live and work in Rarotonga! Our friendly local Real Estate agents can help! They have the information, the connections, properties and businesses for sale. Visit Cook Islands Real Estate.

Other essential Information and Tourist Attractions…

The Punanga Nui Market in Avarua is a must visit on Saturday mornings, featuring local crafts, dancing and food. The Discover Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre is a great place to learn all about the creatures that inhabit the Cook Islands, both on land in in the sea. Located on the beachside of the main road in Arorangi, near Rarotonga Backpackers.