Rarotonga – Visit to an Island Paradise

Rarotonga beach as sun goes down

Many of our guests at Breakers finish their NZ holiday with a few days at the Cook Islands.  I like to call this the holiday at the end of the holiday – time to slow down and relax before heading back home and back to the reality of everyday life.

beachfront accommodation

Well we thought it was time to check out this Island paradise and see what all the fuss was about so we headed to Rarotonga for a few nights R and D (it was!).

views up to mountains

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands in the heart of the Pacific Ocean with Rarotonga being the largest and the main island.  I say largest – it is still small at 32kms in circumference and surrounded by a crystal clear lagoon that meets the reef and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.  There is an inner ring road with off-shoots leading to dense green jungle and magnificent towering jagged mountains.

walk along the beach Rarotonga

We arrive during their winter – same as us in NZ but crossing the date line and going back one day.  Both our countries may be on winter hours but that is about where the similarities stop.  It is 4 o’clock in the afternoon when we arrive and a balmy 28 degrees.  Yep, definitely different to home where we left a frost and -3 degrees…….

along the beach rarotonga resort

There are numerous accommodation options available to suit all budgets from resorts to backpackers and plenty of rental accommdotion.  As we are quite independent we chose to rent a house.  Well it was a bungalow actually – beachfront, fully self-contained and just one other detached bungalow beside us so very private.  We chose the west side of the island, right on the beach and affording wonderful views and sunsets.  Sounding somewhat familiar!

enjoying the views Rarotongan beach

My guests when asking where we are going for our holiday would laugh when I said Rarotonga.  “You do realise you live on a beach” they’d say.  Well yes but I won’t have lawns to mow, windows to clean or any of those other things that are associated with living and owning a beachfront property – I have important R & D to do you know.

views to lagoon from bungaow

There were a few fundamental differences obviously, besides the air temperature, but the water temperature also – actually just the water full stop.  Being a lagoon it was pretty much safe to swim in the entire time, crystal clear and warm – did I mention oh so warm.  We swam (well for one of us it may have been more floated – same thing) each morning and again each evening – lovely way to start and finish the day.

relaxing at the Rarotonga bungalow

It’s more than that though – more than not having household chores to do as we still did our dishes, made our bed, swept our unit from the sand – I know aren’t we good 🙂  No they call this island time and it really is. You immediately just feel more relaxed – even those household chores were relaxing.

roadside bus stop

With the island only being 32 kms in circumference it is pretty easy to get around with lovely restaurants/cafes dotted along the roadside and waterfront.  There is a public bus transport system but we choose to hire a scooter – probably the most common choice of transport for visitors and locals alike.

main street Rarotonga

The roads are perfect for the scooter, not much traffic and everything is so easy to find.  Makes parking a breeze too!  The seat lifts revealing a lockable compartment so great for doing a bit of shopping which lets face it is an integral part of any holiday – even if you just need new sunnies.

tours rarotonga to mountains

You can make your visit to Rarotonga as relaxing or busy as you like.  There are plenty of activities – snorkeling, diving, kite surfing, paddleboard – yep lots of water sport activities.  Also lagoon tours, cultural tours, 4WD tours – something for everyone.

locals of Rarotonga

original mission house Rarotonga

For us it was more about relaxing.  Hanging on the beach, people watching and just generally enjoying our surroundings.  We took lots of walks too – along the beaches and  around the villages.  There is so much colour in both the people we met and the buildings and architecture.

road side cafe

Rarotongan church

Church rarotonga

Of course any trip away for us wouldn’t be complete with getting on a bicycle so we hired a bike for a couple of afternoons and did some exploring.  It was a great way to see the island and the countryside.  We biked the entire circumference of the island on our first afternoon outing and for our next outing explored some of the inner ring road and the roads leading off it.

riding in rarotonga

It was a great way to get a better insight to island living and there is nothing quite like the path less traveled.  One thing we would definitely do next time is take our hiking boots as there are some great hiking trails but they take you deep into the jungle and up into the mountains so decent footwear is paramount.

Rarotonga sceen with mountains and plants

road side store Rarotonga

Considering the size of the island Rarotonga has some wonderful eateries.  We would usually have our main meal at lunch time to make the most of the sea views offered from many of the cafes/restaurants.  There are supermarkets and little roadside stores so you can easily get some supplies if you wish to be semi-self sufficient.  On the occasions we did eat out for dinner the meals were sublime!  Fantastic service, great ambience and fresh delicious food.

fun at the markets rarotonga

stall holder rarotonga market

A couple of must dos when visiting Rarotonga is the market on Saturday – filled with colour, music, festivities and of course treasures to buy.

leaving the church service Rarotonga

Church congregation Rarotonga

reverend Rarotonga church

The other – a church service on Sunday.  Visitors are welcomed with open arms and it is a wonderful cultural experience with singing that has to be heard to be believed.

Stary skies above Rarotongan bungalow

This is island living at island time on a little island paradise – it is all about relaxing and going with the flow.  For us we’d call it perfect and I for one can’t wait to go back again.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth – West Coast of the Southern Alps of New Zealand.



About coastingnz

Jan and Stephen live on the Punakaiki coastline, north of Greymouth on the West Coast, NZ and run Breakers Boutique Accommodation. They both enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about things to see and do on the West Coast and would like to share their experiences with you.
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10 Responses to Rarotonga – Visit to an Island Paradise

  1. Maija says:

    This looks amazing. I’m heading to NZ in a few months so will add it to my list of must-do’s 🙂


  2. These photos are amazing I so want to visit NZ thanks for keeping in touch ☺️


    • coastingnz says:

      Thanks Charlotte except this is Rarotonga – one of the islands countries in the pacific ocean, close to NZ. Many of our visitors to NZ use the opportunity to visit a pacific island while they are in the Southern hemisphere.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mama says:

    absolutely fabulous photoghraphy as always Stephen & super narration as always Jan.I can see why you both want to re visit. Looks absolutely fabulous!!And you two always make the most of all there is to offer by exploring every avenue available. Will be nice to be able to give first hand advice to your own guests.Fantastic!!!!!
    Hugs Mama…


    • coastingnz says:

      I think you and Dad would enjoy it too. If you love people watching it is great for that and you can make it as relaxing or active as you like. Lovely place with lovely people.


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