Rarotonga’s main road near Muri beach, with the lagoon just visible to the left and the main peak lurking out of shot on the right.
Holidays in Rarotonga
Rarotonga is a quieter, better value, English-speaking version of a French Polynesian island. It’s in the Cook Islands 900 kms west of Tahiti and ringed by a partially broken coral reef.
The Cook Islands, fifteen of them in two groups (north and south, with Rarotonga and its exquisite sibling Aitutaki in the southern group), were mapped in 1773 by Captain Cook and are about halfway between Tahiti and Fiji, sharing a lot of ancestry, customs and habits with French Polynesia, though they are less developed and the people are – as a consequence? – more relaxed and friendly than their eastern cousins.
The islands, an ex-colony of Great Britain, became a colony of New Zealand in 1901 and then self-governing in 1965, though they still maintain strong associations with New Zealand, including use of the Kiwi dollar as their national currency. Most of their imported goods originate from New Zealand so vegemite and strong cheddar appear on supermarket shelves.
The Cook Island’s tiny capital of Avarua on Rarotonga; what you see is just about what you get.
Rarotonga, like many other Pacific islands, is dominated by riotously green peaks with a simple, 20 mile (32km) two-way ring road between the rocky outcrop known as ‘The Needle’ and the beaches. Accommodation is mainly just off that road, on the beach side, but the road is little used and doesn’t create much in the way of noise pollution.
Aroa beach, one of Rarotonga’s finest.