If you were to conjure yourself to the ideal location for a romantic holiday, it would probably involve a tropical island surrounded by coral reef and fringed with powdery white sand. It would rise, gently at first, then dramatically to a craggy peak that was cloaked in lush rainforest. Traffic would be light and include as many bicycles as cars, and the locals would be laid-back, friendly and welcoming. The temperature would never drop below the mid-20s, and on days when the sun didn’t shine, the rain would fall soft and warm to ensure a constant supply of tropical fruit for your evening cocktails.
It may seem like a dream destination, but following a short flight from Australia’s East Coast, it could be the reality of your next holiday – welcome to Rarotonga.
Getting to know the island
Rarotonga is the largest island in the Cook Islands group and serves as the gateway to the other islands. The main town, Avarua, is the capital of the Cook Islands and is located on the north coast, just a few kilometres from the airport. The island is volcanic in origin, with its ancient peak, Te Manga, rising to nearly 700 metres above the sea to provide a geographical reference point from anywhere else on the island.
It measures just 32 kilometres in circumference – a distance that is easy to verify by travelling the road that runs around its perimeter. You can hire a car, a scooter or a bicycle and explore in your own time, or hop on one of the local buses – they run every hour in both directions, and take an hour to complete an entire circuit.
Where to stay
The island is encircled by a coral reef, coming very close to the shore on the north side of the island and rendering it unsuited to swimming. For this reason, most of the island’s resorts are located on either the sunrise (east) or sunset (side) of the island, and both sides have their own unique characteristics and highlights. On the east coast, the lagoon is at its widest and deepest at Muri Beach and dotted with four idyllic coral atolls. The beach is wide and sandy, there’s a variety of resorts to choose from ranging from simple and affordable to luxurious and adults-only.
On the opposite side of the island, the sea breeze drops away to a whisper, the beaches are sandy and secluded and at the edge of the lagoon, the waves break incessantly on the distant reef. The Aroa Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is located here, and the protection it provides makes for an amazing underwater playground, so you can spend your days alternating between face-down enjoying the best snorkelling on the island or face-down on a lounger beneath a coconut tree. The resorts on this side of the island also offer the best vantage point from which to enjoy those stunning tropical sunsets, preferably over a fabulous, tropical cocktail or two.
What to do
Rarotonga may be small but there is plenty to keep you entertained, regardless of what sort of holiday you’re looking for. Spend a relaxing morning taking a cruise in a glass-bottom boat on Muri Lagoon, hire bikes and seek out your favourite beach around the island or challenge yourselves (and each other) with a cross-island hike via ‘the Needle’ – the views from the top will reward the effort required to get there. Saturday is market day in Avarua – a great place to pick up souvenirs from your holiday, fresh fruit and the most refreshing of all – a fresh drinking coconut. The Muri night market is another great way to meet the locals and sample the finest local cuisine.
If you’re looking for somewhere to escape for a relaxing couples’ break and Rarotonga sounds like it would tick all your boxes, your Hoot Holidays specialist can help you plan a holiday that’s just right for you.
- Posted in Cook Islands