Must See Attractions In Rarotonga, Cook Islands juni 20, 2022 – Posted in: Cook Islands, Travel – Tags: , , , ,

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Head out to the wonderful attractions in Rarotonga! The Pacific island doesn’t offer sights in the traditional sense. There are no amusement parks or anything biggest, wildest, highest – on the other hand, there is the magnificent nature and the Pacific Ocean. This is what you have to go to Cook Islands to experience!

When you arrive at the airport, you are greeted by a large stand with lots of flyers for all the sights and attractions in Rarotonga that you can experience. Most of them relate to experiences in nature: here you can swim, dive, snorkel, row in a kayak, surf, rent bikes, go fishing for blue marlin, hike, see the island from a beach buggy or fly over it. In fact, it is only your budget that sets the limit.

Apart from that, Rarotonga also offers cultural experiences. See the beautiful dance shows with the ritual dances or experience the history of the island at one of the museums or on the ancient road, Ara Metua, laid out by the very first inhabitants.

However, the greatest experience you can have on the Cook Islands is the encounter with the Great Empty Nothing. In a world ever so busy, it is a miracle to find yourself on an island where time stands still and where you are so far away from everything. Plans to get to the top of the mountain will be pushed to tomorrow, while the Pacific hypnotizes you with its eternal roar. Rarotonga is a serene spot on earth where you can feel alive!


One of the biggest attractions in Rarotonga is the water. No matter where you are on the island, the Pacific Ocean is eternally present. You can enjoy the view from the terrace or throw yourself into the waves for a cooling dip (bring bathing shoes!). If you like snorkeling, there are many beautiful tropical fish around the corals. Snorkelling, diving and sailing trips are also arranged, where you can see turtles, stingrays and humpback whales.

The amazing bounty beaches at Rarotonga - SittingUnderAPalmTree

The amazing bounty beaches at Rarotonga


A popular hiking route is the trip across the island, where along the way you can reach the Needle, one of the island’s highest points. Here is the most beautiful view over Rarotonga and the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly you can see how far away you are from everything! The trip from south to north and all the way out to the roundabout by the harbor takes about 4-5 hours at a leisurely pace and with time to enjoy the view along the way.

Papua - Wigmores Waterfall - SittingUnderAPalmTree

Papua / Wigmore’s Waterfall

Papua / Wigmore’s Waterfall

The hiking route goes up and down steep paths through the green rainforest. Sometimes you can walk along, other times you have to pass the slippery rocks of streams or climb up mountain slopes, only with the help of crooked tree roots. The rainforest is dense in some places, but there are no dangerous animals. Two lizards, three small millipedes, a small worm and a spider the size of a nail were seen on our trips.

You can complete the trip in two ways: You can either go from south to north. Get off the bus at Wigmore’s Waterfall and enjoy the small waterfall. However, the waterfall is only a trickle when it has not rained for a long time. Or you can start the trip from the north side, where you turn off at the roundabout at the harbor and find Avatiu Road. From the parking lot, there is about an hour and a half hike up to The Needle.

From the north side, the trip up to The Needle is shortest. When you reach the crossroads after the first steep stretch, you can continue straight out or the 200 meters further up to the viewpoint. However, the trip is equally tough both ways, but the markings are aimed at the hikers coming from the north. And a very important tip: If you can’t see the orange arrows, go back until you see one and find the right path.

How to prepare for the trip

Choose a day where it is cloudy but not raining, because here the paths are slippery with mud. Bring drinks. You can’t buy anything to drink along the way, but 200 meters after the roundabout on the north side there is a small kiosk. Therefore remember at least 1-1½ liters of water per. person, energy bars or other snacks, mosquito repellent, hat and sunscreen. Solid footwear is recommended, preferably hiking boots. Only wear sneakers if they have a unworn sole.


There are six other hiking trails up to the mountain tops of Rarotonga, where this one is the easiest. The others are described by experienced hikers as “difficult”. That said, it’s a harder hike and NOT for people in bad shape. Tourists in less good shape can instead enjoy the beautiful walk from the roundabout on the north side and out to the start of the trail, about 2-3 kilometers on flat road. The trail is nice all the way and it is a beautiful walk.

The Needle Rarotonga - SittingUnderAPalmTree

Take a hike across Rarotonga and enjoy the view!


More relaxing are the lively lagoon cruises that you can board on Muri Beach. Here you sail with the local guides – who also make up the band – out into the turquoise lagoon to the small islands. To the sound of ukulele and drums you can snorkel or learn how to open a coconut.

Muri Beach - Rarotonga - SittingUnderAPalmTree

Paradise in the lagoon at Muri Beach, Rarotonga


The Cook Islands archipelago consists of 15 small islands, of which Rarotonga is the largest. From Rarotonga Airport it is possible to fly out to the other islands or you can make the trip by catamaran boat. North of Rarotonga is Aitutaki, which after the main island is the second most visited. Aitutaki is famous for its coral blue lagoon and One Foot Island, where you can snorkel among the tropical fish.

Airplane to Aitutaki - Cook Islands - SittingUnderAPalmTree

One of the big planes on its way to landing. If you are going to one of the small islands, it is done by propeller plane.


Among the beautiful sights of Rarotonga you will also find several interesting museums. Also take the time to get to know the historic Roratonga. At the eastern end of Avarua, the two museums are next door to each other. At the Cook Islands Museum, which also houses a library, you can see an exhibit featuring objects, costumes and animals and read the intriguing tale of the Cook Islands. At Cook Islands National Museum you will find much of the same, and if you only need to visit one museum, choose Museum Cook Islands for the nice librarian who loves to tell about her island!

If you go a little inland from one of the two museums, you will come across the ancient road, Ara Metua (Ancestors’ Road). The road was originally built by the first inhabitants who colonized Rarotonga and the rest of the Cook Islands around the year 900 AD. The road is still in use, but there is not much left of the original boulder road.

The road leads down to another place of interest, a memorial to the seven canoes that sailed from Rarotonga to emigrate to Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud – New Zealand). Over 1000 years ago, they sailed out on the high seas and navigated only with the help of stars and ocean currents to New Zealand, where they settled.

Museum and library - Rarotonga - SittingUnderAPalmTree

One of the island’s museums, which together with the library is run by volunteers


Every Saturday, locals and tourists flock to the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the worst midday heat. The many stalls on the market offer fruit and vegetables, but the majority come here to eat and have fun. Try a Nu, an unripe coconut with coconut water, one of the many stews or a pancake with coconut and mango. In the morning there is a live show where you can experience the ritual dances. The market is definitely one of the attractions in Rarotonga that you must not miss!

Punanga Nui Market - Rarotonga - Cook Islands - SittingUnderAPalmTree

Tourists and locals flock to the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua, Rarotonga every Saturday


The Cook Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, and you can only get there by either flying over New Zealand or Los Angeles. From Rarotonga there is a fixed flight connection to the other small islands with propeller planes.

We booked the trip ourselves and took over Los Angeles. To find the best prices, it is a good idea to search for the individual flights, Your city – Los Angeles and then Los Angeles – Rarotonga.


Rarotonga offers hotels, resorts and apartments in all price ranges. Here you get a few recommendations on some of the best hotels in Rarotonga, all of which can be booked directly through See more hotels by doing your own search here:


Right at the beachfront in the Blue Lagoon at Muri Beach lies the luxurious Muri Beach Club Hotel. Here you can enjoy the view of the small islands in the lagoon, while the tour boats sail past with tourists. When the body needs to cool down, there are few steps to a dip into the coral blue water. In and around Muri Beach there are also quite a few restaurants and bars.


There are few places on earth that are more beautiful than the Cook Islands – and with the south-eastern tip of Rarotonga at the very top of the list. Here on the coast is a gem of a beach hotel, the Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel. The hotel is for you who have flown many miles just to have the ultimate vacation. Here, all your needs are taken care of, which here on Cook Islands are quickly limited to blue water, hammocks all the way down to the beachfront and a bartender who is ready to poor you a cool drink.


Ten minutes drive from the main town Avarua is the large Black Rock. The stone marks the start of some of the island’s best beaches, located all the way down the coast. The area therefore also has many small and larger hotels and resorts, but the area is somewhat quieter than Muri Beach. Here you can swim from the sandy beaches and enjoy the sunset to the sound of the roar of the waves. If you are looking for a good value hotel, The Edgewater Resort and Spa is highly recommended. In the morning you can go straight out into the lagoon for a swim, and the island small bus has its own stop at the resort.

See more great hotels in Rarotonga here on!

Read the other articles about Rarotonga here!

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