Love a Little Paradise
Love a Little Paradise
Encircled with a coral reef, the Island of Rarotonga is a beauty like no other. Its sapphire-blue lagoon is trimmed by sparkling white beaches, and beyond the reef, waves break and foam like roaring thunder.
The villages of the island are nestled on the coastal flatlands, their backdrop stunning mountain ranges, lush fields and rural farmland. The history of the island is rich and fascinating, with ancient marae (traditional meeting places) and monuments to explore, and some of the best-preserved coral churches in the South Pacific.
Packed with stunning beaches and fascinating historic sites, it’s hard to know what to put on your itinerary when it comes to planning your Rarotonga escape.
Here are a few of our favourite places that we suggest you add to your to-do list…
Muri has to be the most beautiful section of the island’s encircling lagoon (a rather sizeable call but once you visit you’ll agree). The clear turquoise water is packed with tropical fish, especially around the islets (Taakoka, Koromiri, Oneroa and Motutapu), and further out towards the reef. Swimming at Muri is an experience in itself, the water warm and translucent, gleaming above the white sparkly sand. If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed, Muri offers a selection of watersports. There’s also lagoon cruises for those who still want an adventure but of the more relaxing kind. Other attractions in Muri include kitesurfing, paddle-boarding and many great places to eat.
Cook Islands Christian Church
If your ears enjoy melodious tunes, you need to attend a Sunday service at the Cook Islands Christian Church in Avarua. Services are filled with hymns sung in the Maori language, giving a beautiful insight into Cook Island culture. The beautiful white stone church was built in 1853 and has some famous people, including American author Robert Dean Frisbie and Albert Henry, the first prime minister of the Cook Islands, buried in its graveyard. The main church service is at 10 am on Sunday, and visitors are warmly welcomed and invited to stay for morning tea.
Punanga Nui Market
For the best of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, barbecued snacks, fresh bread and traditional Polynesian food, you need to visit the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua. Foodies from all over the world delight in this island gem, discovering delicious food like they’ve never tasted before. Try the delicious fruit smoothies and locally brewed coffee, and don’t forget to visit the stall selling roast pork rolls with apple sauce. There are also local delicacies that you shouldn’t leave without trying, like ika mata (raw fish marinated in lime and coconut), rukau (steamed taro leaves), poke (banana with arrowroot and coconut) and mitiore (fermented coconut with onion and seafood). Also good are firi firi, Tahitian-style doughnuts with chocolate filling, and 100% organic artisan bread is available from ‘Varaua mata, e te Miti, Vai’. There’s also sourdough, croissants and wholegrain bread, and locally made dips, sauces and chutneys for you to feast on.
The Mooring Fish Cafe
This local Avana eatery is known far and wide for it’s simple but delicious cuisine. Delight your taste buds and tuck into a succulent fish burger or a tuna and mahi mahi sandwich on grilled Turkish bread. Located on the edge of the Avana Lagoon, the scenery is just as good as the food (which is really saying something). Variations of the classic include Tijuana Tuna or Cajun Spiced, and other goodies include Rustys – marinated chicken pieces with pawpaw salsa. Don’t forget to wash it down with a fruit smoothie or a nu (fresh coconut).
Experience the real Rarotonga with a Storytellers cycling tour. Let local tour guides who are passionate and knowledgeable about the local culture, history and environment lead you on a unique cycling experience, offering a variety of bike riding tours to suit most levels of riding fitness and experience. It’s the only Cook Islands Eco Tour on mountain bikes and the only tour business focused on giving 10% of their profits back to the community for development projects, so it’s money and time well spent.