Population 13,007
25.9 sq mls/67.1 sq. kms

Scooters are the main form of transport and there are plenty of places to hire them.  Helmets are not compulsory but given the potholed state of the roads, you'd be foolish not to wear one.    You must have a current full licence from your own country for the class of vehicle you want to drive.  If you're planning to hire a motorbike or scooter, you'll also have to take a short test...to prove you know how to go round the only roundabout on Raro!   (pictured above right).  Driving tip: Keep left and give way to traffic from the right

As soon as you step off the plane, you know you've arrived somewhere very special...
Straw hatted Jake Numanga Snr stands in the corner of the arrivals area in Rarotonga airport strumming Polynesian love songs on a banjo, as you wait to get your passport stamped.   He's been providing his unique entertainment for every single arriving and departing flight for more than 30 years.   And he was awarded an MBE by HM the Queen for his serivces to tourism.  

Immigration and customs are efficient but very friendly, welcoming you with words that will quickly become familiar because everyone greets you with them... "kia orana" meaning "may you live long".

Cook's Island Bus is an inexpensive way of travelling.   It goes all round the island and stops anywhere you want to get on or off.  You only need to decide if you want to go clockwise or anti-clockwise!
Check the services and timetable

Muri lagoon from the air
Muri is the main resort beach with beautfully clean sand and sea: you can snorkel on the reef (a marine conservation park) or walk across to the uninhabited islands in the lagoon - or both!   The lagoon islands are the most popular venue for island weddings
What to do and where to go     Essential info about getting married
Daily International Flights

Scooting around Rarotonga
Cook's Island Bus
The Capital Island
Jake's tuneful welcome to Rarotonga
Don't be surprised to see gravestones in the gardens of homes as you travel round the island.  Islanders are often buried on family land even if it's the front garden
Tangaroa carving
This is Tangaroa, an ancient god whose image you'll see all over the place and an unofficial symbol of the Islands.  Smaller versions of this wooden carving are popular souvenirs!
Family graves in the garden
Continue the tour
Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com
Click here to return to title page
The Punanga Nui cultural market near the harbour is a must visit for tourists and islanders alike. The main market day is Saturday (6am- 2pm) and that's the best but you will find some stalls open other weekday (not Sunday) from 8 till 4
More about the market
Location map
Rarotonga airport exterior
Continue the Rarotonga tour
Cultural market entrance
Top of the page
Bookmark and Share
Sign or read my guest book
Love the Cook Islands on Facebook
Email the website author
Site visitor survey
Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands and the capital, Avarua is the main commercial and administrative centre.  Locals just call it "town".   It's also the most commercialised of the 15 islands, but it still retains a Polynesian charm.  The main street looks out across the Pacific Ocean and from late June to August you can stand on the sea wall and watch whales as they migrate to warmer waters to breed.  You won''t find any fast food chains like McDonalds or any of the ubiquitous supermarket or store chains.  Instead there are palm lined roads, lots of local shops and cafes, a must visit Saturday market...and lots of friendly locals.
Rarotonga is the most accessible of the 15 Cook Islands.   Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia operate regular flights into the island from New Zealand, the USA and Australia.  Services from New Zealand are daily
Rarotonga international airport...it was completely rebuilt in 2013
The only roundabout on the capital island
Rugged Rarotonga interior
Looking towards one of the mini islands in Muri lagoon
Aerial view of Rarotonga - Ewan Smith, Air Rarotonga
The island's centre is a series of magnificent mountain ridges and peaks.  They include Te Manga, which at 652 metres (2,138 ft) is the highest point in the Islands.   You can join a guided walk with Pa (below) if you're energetic..and fit.
Pa will give you an expert tour of the interior
There are no big shops but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of places to spend your money.  My advice is to wander round not just the centre of the Avarua but across the island.   My particular favourites are Tukis ("the store with more") Vonnias (the best kind of emporium) and, if you're looking for the best black pearls, I'd personally recommend Bergman and Sons.  Also on my best of the best list is the amazing market
This is the closest you'll get to a superstore in Rarotonga.  CITC - the Cook Islands Trading Company - has been a part of Islands life for over 100 years.  They also have a liquor superstore and outlet supermarket just outside town.  And for your daily shop, visit their Foodland store on the main street.
Rarotonga from the air
Video clip
Video clip
Rarotonga map
Click here
for a detailed map

Pacific Resort Rarotonga beach front room
Right on Muri beach in Rarotonga
I can personally recommend the Pacific Resort Rarotonga (left and centre) which is in the prime position on Muri beach.  The Crown Beach Resort (right) is also particularly stunning and has a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor.  It's not the purpose of this site to sell or promote any particular places to stay.   This is one where I do suggest you have a look at the tourist board website

Remote doesn't mean rough and ready when it comes to staying on the capital island.   Rarotonga has a wide choice of places from the luxurious to the cheap and cheerful backpacker type. 
CITC Avarua Rarotonga