Rarotonga, Cook Islands


Rarotonga, Cook Islands


The Cook Islands capital city has an appealing small-town vibe that invites you to explore at leisure. A must while you’re here is the Punanga Nui Market, a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, pastries, and more. While the market is at its liveliest on Saturdays, it is also open Monday through Friday from 8am-4pm. Bibliophiles will enjoy the Bounty Bookstore, located next to the post office, and the Cook Islands Library & Museum Society combines a collection of Pacific-themed books with a small museum. View the Cook Islands Christian Church, established in 1823. Or browse the city’s shops. Black pearls, ukuleles, perfumes, and tivaevae (traditional quilts) are popular souvenirs.

Located on the island’s west coast, Arorangi was the first missionary settlement on the island. Here, you’ll find a Cook Islands Christian Church dating to 1849 and a beautiful beach. 

Beaches & Watersports 
Diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and other watersports are popular on Rarotonga. Muri Beach on Rarotonga’s southeast coast offers crystalline waters—ideal for viewing marine life—as well as a beautiful beach. Dazzling tropical fish are also abundant at Titikaveka Beach, on the island’s southwest coast, and the clear waters of the Aroa Marine Reserve on the island’s west coast invite swimming and snorkeling. A Muri Lagoon Cruise is available as a shore excursion from The Gauguin

With its rugged volcanic peaks and lush jungle, Rarotonga’s interior is largely unpopulated—but rewards exploration with its unspoiled beauty. An off-road safari by 4X4 is available as a shore excursion from The Gauguin

Matutu Brewery 
In the village of Tikioki, at the southern tip of the island, not far from Muri Beach, you can find the only brewery in the Cook Islands. Tours are available daily at noon and 1pm and include a tasting of their premium-beer output.


Click to enlarge
Rarotonga Port Map

Population: 13,095 (2011)

Language: Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan), English

Currency: NZD, Cook Islands dollars

Scheduled Docking Location: Drifting outside of the lagoon, tender ashore.

Shopping: Shops are generally open Mon–Fri 9am to 4pm, Sat 9am to 1pm. Closed Sundays.

Banks / ATMs: ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group), BSP (Bank of South Pacific), and BCI (Bank of Cook Islands) are available on Rarotonga. Banks in Avarua are open Mon-Thu 9.00am-3.00pm, Friday 9.00am-4.00pm. There are approximately 16 ATMs available on the island, and cash exchange and withdrawal is also available at the airport. Major CC are accepted. Cash: best to have local currency (NZD). Local Cook Islands dollars cannot be exchanged outside the Cook Islands.

Post Office: Ara Tapu, Avarua District. +682 29-940. Mon-Fri 8:00am to 4:00pm, Saturday 8am to noon.

Internet/Wi-Fi: Internet and prepaid Wi-Fi access is available at Bluesky Teleshops in Avarua. Prepaid Wi-Fi access is also available at convenience stores.

Airport Transportation: The airport is located less than two miles from Avarua. Transportation is available through Raro Tours (+682 25-325).

Taxis: Cook Islands Taxi Association members can be identified by their bright-green vehicles. 

Rental Cars:
Avis Cook Islands: +682 22-833 
Polynesian Rental Cars: +682 29-227 
Island Car & Bike Hire: +682 22-632

Public Transportation: Cook’s Island Bus Passenger Transport Ltd. offers two routes that circumnavigate the island continuously. No scheduled stops; simply flag them down.
Island Car & Bike Hire: +682 22-632

Port Agent Contact
Stuart Henry
Office: +682 25-761
Mobile: +682 54-966

Muri Lagoon Cruise
3 Hours - $119

Rarotonga’s spectacular tropical beauty and marine life are yours to discover during this scenic and memorable cruise on the Muri Lagoon.

Depart the pier for the transfer to the Muri, Rarotonga’s inner lagoon. Upon arrival, you will embark a glass-bottom boat and begin your cruise. Along the way, you will observe a myriad of colorful coral and fish. More adventurous guests will have an opportunity to go snorkeling among the schools of tropical fish. The fish are extremely tame and used to swimmers, and will take food from your hand.

Following your cruise, you will be transferred back to the ship.

Please note: Wear your swimsuit under a cover-up, and bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a towel from the ship. The boat is covered and features a water-access ladder. There are no restroom facilities on the boat. Snorkeling equipment will be provided.

Excursion Code:
Pa "Son of Rarotonga"
  • Guided hiking tour of Rarotonga.
3 Hours - $145

Discover the wisdom of Pa, one of the Cook Islands best known traditional healers, during this informative guided nature trek.

Depart the pier for the drive to the interior of the island. Upon arrival, you will join your guide on a trek along an ancient pathway used by Pa’s ancestors before the missionaries arrived. Along the way, your guide will share Pa’s in-depth knowledge of medicinal plants and of the culture and history of these islands. He will also provide demonstrations of the preparation of various traditional medicines and their applications. Bottled water and seasonal fruit will be served at Pa’s residence.

Following your visit, you will be transferred back to the pier.

Please note: This tour is recommended for guests in good physical condition. Guests with limited mobility or guests who utilize a wheelchair will not be permitted on this tour. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, and bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Excursion Code:
Raro Safari by 4x4
3 Hours - $135

Explore Rarotonga’s pristine natural beauty in an exciting new way during this off-road tour of the island’s stunning lagoons, valleys, and inland villages.

Depart the pier in an off-road, open-top safari truck for a drive to Rarotonga’s back roads and valleys. Along the way, you will be privy to sights and sounds regular visitors to the island would not typically have an opportunity to experience. You will learn how traditional Cook Islanders live, and your guide will provide you with an informative commentary on the various traditional uses of local flora and fauna.

Following your tour, you will be returned to the pier.

Please note: As this tour involves travel over bumpy surfaces, guests with back and/or neck problems and guests with limited mobility are discouraged from participating. Seating on the trucks is very basic. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are recommended.

Excursion Code:
Rarotonga Circle Island Tour
  • Scenic driving tour through Rarotonga.
4 Hours - $135

Depart the pier for an orientation ride around the island, an excellent way to see the island. Along the way, you will visit such sites as Ngatangiia Harbour, the departure point of the Polynesian Migration to New Zealand in 1350 AD, and a historical back road built in 1050 ADcalled the Road of Toi, or Ara Metua. Visit Muri Lagoon, where you’ll enjoy light refreshments and a cultural show, then continue on past ceremonial sites that include Arai Te Tonga, several historical buildings, the library, the museum, and fruit and vegetable plantations.

This tour provides guests with an excellent orientation to the island of Rarotonga and is recommended for all visitors who want an appreciation of the island and its culture and history.

Following your tour, you will be returned to the pier.

Excursion Code:
Takitumu Conservation Tour
  • Informative nature tour of Rarotonga.
3.5 Hours - $135

Nature and bird lovers especially will relish this unique opportunity to explore Rarotonga's exotic bird and plant species during a memorable island conservation tour.

Depart the pier for the transfer to the Conservation Center. Upon arrival, you will begin your guided walking tour. Along the way, you will learn about conservation efforts involving the flycatcher, or kakerori, an indigenous bird found only on Rarotonga. Over the years, the bird's numbers have dwindled as a result of an increase in natural predators. Your visit, along with the visits of many hundreds of others, will provide the landowners with the funds needed to conduct research into various means of preserving and promoting this rare species of bird.

The conservation area is also a tropical rain forest featuring many types of medicinal plants, and you will hear about the many local uses for such herbal remedies.

Following your walking tour, you will be returned to the ship.

Please note: This tour involves 2 hours of walking over uneven terrain and is recommended for guests in good physical condition. Transfer to and from the conservation site will be in air-cooled buses. The tour will start from the gate, and there will be places to rest along the way. There are no restroom stops on this tour. All proceeds from this tour will go toward the Conservation Center.

Excursion Code: