Rarotonga, in the beautiful Cook Islands, is awesome.
With a massive population of at least 14,000 residents, Rarotonga is one of 15 islands that make up the group. It’s main township, Avarua, is home to a number of quite awesome must-see places such as Trader Jacks – a sweet little establishment, overlooking the harbour and surrounding reef, that serves local fish, mean-as burgers and cold local beer.
Funnily enough, the micro-brewery that brews said beer is right down the road (and through a roundabout and around a corner) and serves up free samples every day. Amber and I discovered this place by accident when I aimed our hired scooter down a “random” side-road (note “random” in inverted commas – I dislike the overuse of this word out-of-context… but that’s a separate story) and came across a sign “FREE BEER”. Needless to say, this blatant call-to-action marketing method was not lost on me at all. A friendly husband and wife team greeted us with three of their four brews, a smile and a recommendation to visit the island’s mini putt “Coco Putt” which makes fantastic burgers and have a passable mini putt course.
Muri beach is definitely the place to stay for swimming, kayaking and snorkeling! Rarotonga is surrounded by a reef, with various inlets where it is advised NOT to swim. We stayed at Muri Beachcomber where we had an awesome self-contained unit right in front of the beach and 5 strides from a huge deck where you can sit and drink as the sun goes down… or comes up?
Other things to DEFINITELY do:
- Check out an island show/dinner – we went to the Edgewater Resort version. We arrived early enough for $10 cocktails and saw whales from our beach-side seats!
- 4wd tours are good fun. We went with Raro Safari Tours. You cruise around the island with some real funny locals, wobbly up hills and get amazing views of the island. The fish BBQ lunch is pretty mean too.
- Hire Scooters! The BEST way to get around. From $25 a day. Ams and I got one between us for 3 days and had a ball.
- Get some duty free liquor!! If you’re a bourbon fan get some Jim Beam. 1L bottles for $20nzd OR… 2L bottles for $30nzd!!
- Check out Sails Restaurant and order the island fish trio! Fresh Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahu cooked in 3 different ways. Superb.
- Check out the Sat morning markets in Avarua. Heaps of food! Get yourself a Turtle Tee, a wooden carving of their Rarotongan tiki-like men with massive appendages and watch the locals crank some Polynesian drums – sounds like you’re at a late-nineties Warriors game.
- If your budget can stretch that far, visit Aitutaki. We didn’t manage to stretch our savings or time-frame quite enough but, from all accounts, it is a piece of paradise well worth making the trip to.
The weather wasn’t 100% fantastic BUT we still had an awesome time and made the most of the shelter afforded by kayaking to Motutapu island in the Muri Lagoon. Bliss.
Give it a go. Go on.