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Planning a Rarotonga holiday? Here’s where to eat, stay and explore

Planning a Rarotonga holiday? Here’s where to eat, stay and explore

With the two-way travel bubble opening between NZ and the Cook Islands on 17 May, it's time to plan your island getaway.

Planning a Rarotonga holiday? Here’s where to eat, stay and explore

Surrounded by a crystal-clear lagoon, Rarotonga, the capital and main island of the Cook Islands, has led the way with world-first conservation efforts that have protected and preserved its marine life, reefs and habitat.

Visitors to the island should make the most of this by enjoying the many water activities on offer. Head off on a boat tour or kayak around the island’s blue lagoon. If you’re up for it, one of the best ways to see the archipelago’s marine wonders is by strapping on a tank. Local tour operators offer scuba trips for experienced divers and courses for beginners. And if diving is not for you, there’s an abundance of snorkeling opportunities in the shallow reefs.

Immerse yourself in the rich Cook Island culture by visiting a local museum or joining one of the ‘island nights’ hosted by resorts, where you can experience traditional music and dance performances and feast on authentic local cuisine.

3 must-try experiences

Hop on a half-day cruise and marvel at Rarotonga’s beautiful marine life, where butterflyfish dash among the corals, giant clams hug the shoreline and green turtles come out to play.

Meet local farmers and fishermen selling their produce, taste fresh tropical fruit such as dragonfruit and pawpaw and find local goods such as sarongs and black pearl at the Punanga Nui Market.

Lace up your hiking shoes and explore one of the many nature trails around the island. Bird watchers will love the Takitumu Conservation Area trail, where you can spot one of Rarotonga’s rarest hidden gems, the Kakerori bird.

Where to stay

The Little Polynesian Resort, located on the southern tip of Rarotonga, is a boutique adults-only resort that offers beachfront bungalows with breathtaking views.

For a relaxing stay with a bit of quirky character, head along to the small and secluded Castaway Resort and relax in one of their coastal villas.

Designed on the concept of independence and luxury, Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa boasts well-appointed modern villas, suitable for families, groups and couples.

Where to eat

Discover world-class Mediterranean cuisine in the heart of the Cook Islands at Antipodes, an al fresco style restaurant that boasts magnificent ocean views.

For seriously good food in a laid-back setting, visit Mooring Fish Cafe next to the local fishing club. Famous for their fish sandwiches, the little eatery is a favourite for locals and tourists alike.

The Muri Night Market is one of the most popular dining destinations in Raro, with an exciting variety of stalls offering fresh seafood and local delicacies.

5 things to do in Rarotonga

You’re on ‘island time’ now, so bliss out and explore everything Raro has to offer. Chill out on the sun-soaked beach or head off on an adventure to discover the island’s natural wonders.

1. Head off on an eco tour around the island with Storytellers Eco Cycling Tours, where you’ll learn about Rarotonga’s history, watch farmers at work and taste delicious local produce.

2. Get up close with Rarotonga’s wonderful underwater creatures and enjoy an authentic barbecue lunch on a glass bottom boat tour with Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes.

3. For a dose of wellness with a twist, join a stand-up paddleboard yoga class with KiteSUP. The shallow lagoon is the best spot to give this fun activity a go.

4. Wander between tropical plants and lush palm trees at the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens. Stretching across seven acres, the charming gardens boast vibrant hibiscus flowers and a peaceful gazebo to relax in.

5. Discover ancient rock formations at Black Rock Beach on the island’s northwest boast. The black volcanic rock towering about the white sand beach is a true sight to behold.

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