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Rarotonga is the largest of the 15 islands which make up the Cook Islands. The population of Rarotonga is around 9,000. The island is one of the most beautiful in the South Pacific making it popular with around 90,000 visitors each year. The volcanic peaks and white sandy beaches with overhanging palm trees, inside a coral reef make Rarotonga a paradise island.
Rarotonga is in the southern island group of the Cook Islands, with only Mangaia being further south. Just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, Rarotonga is at 160 degrees west.
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One of the most popular events of the year, the Cook Islands dance-off is held annually at the National Auditorium of Rarotonga sometime in April or May. Bringing together some of the best dancers from across the land, the competition is divided by age group, from juniors to intermediates, seniors, and the “golden ladies.”
The Tiare Festival is an annual flower show held in Rarotonga in October. Among the highlights are the Miss Tiare Pageant and the Young Warrior Contest.
Vaka Eiva or the Canoeing Festival is held during mid-November. The annual event hosts races around Rarotonga and attracts more than 850 competitors, divided into 100 teams. The winners receive the prestigious Pacific Cup.
See the Cook Islands main article for details on the weather.
Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) is 3 kilometres west of Avarua. There are only a few airlines flying to the Cook Islands and their routes are subject to change.
There are no regular ferries to and from Rarotonga. The only option is to take a cruise which stops at the island. Unless you have your own yacht of course or have passage on one.
Rarotonga is a small island with a single airport.
There are no trains on Rarotonga.
The most popular way to travel around the island is by motor scooter. These, along with cars, can be hired from a variety of local companies across the island. To drive legally on Rarotonga, it is necessary to hold a Cook Islands driving licence. These are issued at the police station in Avarua at a cost of NZ$20. Be aware that the licence covers you from the date of issue up to your next birthday.
There are two public bus routes that travel around the island. One goes clockwise, the other travels anti-clockwise. Tickets are $4.00 wherever you want to go and $7.00 for a round trip. If you expect to use the bus on a regular basis, ask the driver for an extended ticket, which will be better value than single trips. The buses originate and terminate in Avarua and you can flag one down everywhere along the road or get our everywhere as well. Buses don't run on Sunday and only half a day on Saturdays.
There are several fishing boats which offer trips around the island.
Rarotonga boasts plenty of places to eat. There are restaurants scattered around the island. These are often small family run operations offering a range of locally produced food. Each main resort has a restaurant and non-residents are welcome. Prices vary, with the smaller family restaurants being very inexpensive, with some resorts being quite costly.
Matutu Brewery is based on Rarotonga and produces local beers. There is a choice of bottled or draft lager and pale ale. These are available in all of the island bars and many shops. Other drinks are imported from New Zealand or Australia. Sunday is a day of rest in the Cook Islands and all bars close at midnight on Saturday. A few places do serve alcohol on Sunday, but the majority only offer soft drinks. Locally fruit is grown in abundance and a fruit smoothie is an ideal alternative to something stronger.
On Rarotonga you are spoiled for choice with accommodation. Shared hostel accommodation is very cheap and is a great way to meet fellow travellers. Family owned beach bungalows are both popular and numerous. Most of these are self-catering and some have a small restaurant nearby. At the top end of the market are the resorts, catering for all meals and have comfortable but sometimes quite basic rooms. Camping is not permitted on the island.
|Aremango Guesthouse||P.O Box 3115, Avarua Muri Lagoon Beach,||Guesthouse||84|
|Atupa Orchid Bungalows||Avarua, Rarotonga P.O. Box 64||Guesthouse||79|
|Backpackers International||P O Box 878 Avarua||Hostel||77|
|Tiare Village||PO Box 719 Atupa Rarotonga||Hostel||83|
|Vara's Beach House||PO Box 434 Muri Beach||Hostel||-|
|Raro Beach Bach||Vaimaanga Turoa Beach||Hotel||-|
|Vaimaanga Views Studio||Vaimaanga||APARTMENT||-|
|Rarotonga Vacation Villas||Kiikii, Tupapa Avarua (P.O. Box 629)||Guesthouse||-|
as well as Peter (7%)
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