Scooters are the main form of transport and there are plenty of places to hire them.  Helmets are now compulsory.  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 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 and normally the jewel in Rarotonga's crown for swimming and snorkelling.  But government scientists advised in January, 2021 against taking a dip there. Environmental conditions and human activity have resulted in the water being heavily saturated with foul smelling sediment making it unsafe to swim. Head instead a bit further up the coast to the waters near Fruits of Rarotonga, but don't swim outside the reef
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
Click here to return to home 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 weekdays (not Sunday) from 8 till 4 and a night market on Wednesdays
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 tree 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 operate regular flights into the island from New Zealand with linking services from around the world. *Services from New Zealand are normally daily (but this is not the case at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic. Check with the airline)
Rarotonga international 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 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
CITC Avarua Rarotonga
Matavera church
Religion is an important part of life in the Islands.  The Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) predominates - this one is in Matavera.   I would urge you to go along to a CICC Sunday service and hear the amazing unaccompanied singing.  It's an experience never to be forgotten
Click here for more "must do" things

Smiling islander
Friendly islander
Dog on boat
Friendly smiles.   Wouldn't you smile if you lived in a place like this?  Even the dogs go sunbathing!
Daily International Flights*

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

ISLANDS: SOUTH  Rarotonga    You might also like: Some personal impressions