Encircled by a fiery coral reef, Rarotonga is the crown jewel of the Cook Islands. Beyond its reef is an aquamarine lagoon fringed by white sandy beaches and swaying palms. The island is dotted with picturesque coastal towns and villages, with the interior made up of lush farmland and forested mountains.
Things to do in Rarotonga
With a quartet of islands just offshore, Muri is considered Rarotonga’s most beautiful beach. The water is brimming with colourful tropical fish that make it a mesmerising place to swim, snorkel and paddleboard.
There's plenty of local history to soak up, especially at the Te Vara Nui Cultural Centre. The village showcases Rarotonga’s rich local culture, with displays on wood carving, traditional medicine and earth oven cooking.
Lazy days on the beach are hard work, so why not refuel with a well-deserved glass of beer or wine? Run by locals, Matutu Brewery offers tours of its pint-sized brewhouse, as well as group tasting sessions. Koteka Winery is another favourite, pouring unique wines made from passionfruit, mangoes, oranges, bananas and other local fruits.
For a glimpse at the local ecosystem, don't miss the Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre. It's particularly interesting if you're planning to go diving or whale watching. There are plenty of interactive exhibits to discover, including shark displays, enormous turtle shells and live coconut crabs.
Getting around Rarotonga
Local buses circle the island throughout the day, with the loop taking around one hour, stopping off in smaller towns and villages. Renting a car is another option, though the best way to get around Rarotonga is on a scooter or motorbike.