A TASTE OF THE ISLAND LIFE
It’s kind of hard to believe that even after having a Husband & two children who are Cook Islander, we had yet to make the trip there. Thankfully, Ava’s brother decided to get married on Rarotonga, which made for the perfect excuse for us to take the plunge (lame pun intended lol)
from the restaurant deck at The Rarotongan Resort and Spa
There are several accommodation options when it comes to staying on Rarotonga. For families that prefer to take advantage of resort facilities, there are a decent handful of resorts/hotels & motels available.
We stayed at ‘The Rarotonga Resort and Spa’, located on the Aro’a lagoon. This resort is equivalent to an Australian standard of 3 stars, and averages $260 per night for a garden view room. The Rooms are fairly stand, providing all the essentials you need for a comfortable stay, however it is the location which is said to be one of the best on the island. Crystal clear water, fish that swim right up to the shore line, and white sandy beaches are what make this location beautiful (although most of the island is like this). An advantage on being on this side of the island where ‘The Rarotongan’ is located (the west) is that it is protected from the strong sea breezes on the east.
Not only does The Rarotongan offer the best location on the island, but it also has two pools, daily activities, fish feeding, night snorkeling, kids club, 2 restaurants and an array of water activities.
If you happen to be enjoying a child free getaway, ‘The Sanctuary’ is a dedicated space just for adults – providing both a pool and
accommodation. Guests may also use the facilities of the main resort.
**I feel it is important to note (in the interest of full disclosure) that we experienced a few issues with this facility (ants in our room, being stuffed around and moved twice, which eventually resulted in us checking out early).
Beach Front Suite
View from the patio
Cupboards and Storage
The main pool
Although Aro’a boasts the best lagoon on the island, for families who don’t wish to spend up big eating at the resort, it is a case of travelling into town or Muri beach to eat. We found ourselves spending a lot of time travelling back and forth, which I would want to avoid next time. I would recommend families to stay in Muri Beach, as it is a centralised location with a decent amount of options for meals. Our favourite was ‘Vili’s Burger Joint’ located opposite the Muri Beachcomber Resort. These burgers were the best on the entire Island, and they were happy to provide me with a vegetarian option. Not only is the food delish, but the joint itself is pretty cool. Located in a little hut, with a smoothie bar attached, there are funny quotes and sayings hanging about the place, and not to mention the resident cat (and approximately 25000 chickens) mingles too!
Vili’s Burger Joint
Ain’t that the truth
Muri Beach also hosts a night market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights – with an amazing variety of foods available – an abundance of cooked fresh seafood, pork belly and roasts, pasta, fruit ice cream and smoothies, Cook Island donuts and delicious desserts.
On the drive between Aro’a and Muri is Charlie’s Café and Beach Hire. We stopped here along our travels for lunch one day and OH MY GOSH. The biggest Turkish bread sandwhich I’ve ever had. I dare say it was bigger than my head. This little café is also in a beautiful spot, absolute beachfront. It serves fresh seafood, burgers, sandwiches and smoothies, alongside offering board hire. I feel it’s also super important to note that ‘apparently’ Ava’s family own this café (unsure if it’s the ‘everyone’s cuzzies’ rule or like ACTUAL related). Either way, let’s run with it.
Charlie’s ‘Weather Rock’
Just a light lunch !
PLAY / SEE / DO
Without a doubt the main reason most people visit Rarotonga is to enjoy the beach, ocean and Island Life, however if you are feeling adventurous there are a number of activities to participate in.
- Buggy Tour – This looked like so much fun – and A LOT of mud! rarobuggytours.com
- Abandoned Sheraton Hotel ‘Tour’ – tour is a word used fairly loosely – it’s more so pay a local a small ‘fee’ to enter the premises and wander around yourself. A lot of history and an interesting story behind the abandonment (Italian Mafia connections).
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Captain Tamas Lagoon Cruise
- Wigmore’s Waterfall – right next to the abandoned Sheraton.
- Punanga Nui Market in town (Saturdays)
- Muri Beach Night Market – if you love food, this is for you!
Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and QANTAS travel multiple times a week from Australia to Rarotonga. QANTAS flys direct from Sydney, whereas Virgin Australia & Air New Zealand depart Brisbane & Melbourne via Auckland. Flight time from Australia is approximately 6 hours, and just over 3 from Auckland.
We flew a combination of Virgin and Air New Zealand, and if given the choice we would choose Air NZ as our preferred carrier. Having said this, we found both carriers to be excellent when travelling with an infant. We always take our pram through customs and to the gate, and both times when dropping the pram at the gate prior to boarding, we were offered to sit in a priority lounge while we waited. We were also pleased to see that Air New Zealand had arranged bassinette seating for us – which provides ALOT of additional leg room, plus allows for baby to sleep without being ALL UP ON YOU!
Nylah loving life in the Air New Zealand Bassinette
Oh the leg room !
- Muri Beach is best for families – central to food and activities.
- Hire a car and arrange to have pick up & drop off at the airport (taxi to hotel costs $20 per adult, hire car was $50 per day!) We used Island Car Hire.
- Insect Repellent – tropical islands tend to have more mozzies, although we only found them bad at the waterfall.
- For babies – I recommend bringing your own sachets of food, as although there is plenty of fresh fruit, we found finding cooked veggies on menus quite difficult. You may also choose to bring yogurt tubes – dairy products are imported from NZ and subsequently are expensive.
- Waterproof Camera
- Off road stroller. No footpaths, so definitely not Bugaboo suitable!
Personally, I believe the tourism industry in the Cook Islands is on the cusp of booming, however at the moment they are still a bit of a well kept ‘secret’. I would suggest visiting sooner, rather than later, to taste that unspoilt Island Life before the crowds begin to flock!