Rarotonga, in the heart of the Cook Islands, is a paradise. The weather is warm, the water is clear, and the fish nibble at your feet. When in the Pacific Islands, you need little else other than a swim suit and a roof. There are a number of accommodation options in Rarotonga, most of which consist of a cozy shack on the beach. Many of these come with complimentary breakfast, consisting largely of melon and coconut. Heaven!
For our first day in Rarotonga, we did as many tourists do, we hired a scooter and did a lap of the island. To rent a scooter in Rarotonga you need to have a motorbike license or sit their driving test. The “driving test” consists of a lap around the round-a-bout and back, but can take a little time lining up and waiting for things to happen on “Island time”. Once your scooter is in hand, you are free to explore the loop road and the few branches off it. It takes about two hours to do the complete lap, along with a few stops at the markets along the way.
The best beach to swim at in Rarotonga is Muri Beach. It is picturesque, with a little island in the distance, palm trees scattered along the beach and plenty of water to go around. The fish that swim in this beach are often fed, so we saw a multitude of generic looking fish while out with our snorkels. If you are looking for more colourful, rare fish then you need to go to the more remote beaches that are scattered around the island.
A “must-do” activity in Rarotonga is attending an Island Night at a local restaurant. These restaurants provide more locally inspired cuisine, whilst also providing a performance by a local dance group. The performances consist of island songs, dances and fire-dance displays. It is polite to tip the dancers, as they receive little money other than tips for their performances.
There is a hike that goes over the towering mountains that cover the middle of the island. Whilst I didn’t do the hike, I would have liked to had I had more time. One thing to watch out for are the ginormous spiders that call those same mountains home.