Rarotonga Travel Destinations

On the beautiful island of Rarotonga destination satisfaction is guaranteed as you experience an authentic slice of Polynesian culture, Cook Islands style, in a setting straight from an old Hollywood film: no fast-food chains, no traffic lights, no giant tour buses. The land and the lagoon are the twin souls of Rarotonga and enjoying them is what Cook Islands travel is all about. A trip to this 91-square-mile, English-speaking island (which, like each of the 15 islands in the Cooks, has a dependent association with New Zealand) invites you to slow down as you drift lazily above vibrant coral and darting neon-hued fish and savor the sweetness of fresh-picked pineapple and papaya.

That’s not to say you can't get your heart rate pumping. Music and dance are second nature on Rarotonga and you’ll enjoy both during your resort’s Island Night, which showcases Polynesian culture and heritage in a mesmerizing celebration of beating drums and swaying hips. Cook Islands dancers are renowned for their speed and agility and you’ll be invited to join in, so limber up beforehand! Nature lovers can also get moving during a rigorous cross-island trek to the base of the Needle pinnacle with legendary herbalist Pa. Afterward, recover with a refreshing lagoon swim or a massage at your resort.

Resorts on Rarotonga offer a welcoming blend of traditional Polynesian décor (woven pandanus leaf, bamboo and floral-pattern quilts) and contemporary details and amenities. At mealtime fresh fish, straight from the lagoon to the kitchen and paired with local produce such as yams, taro and breadfruit are local favorites. Be sure to try ika mata (raw fish marinated in coconut milk and lime juice) — but you can also enjoy a burger or pasta, too.

In the main town of Avarua, you’ll find the Te Punanga Nui market as well as a small number of shops, bars and restaurants, where you can browse for colorful pareus and luminous black pearl pendants. And on Friday and Saturday nights, check out the music scene — and experience life in the Cook Islands like a local.