Did you ever see the bounty ad with the woman on a tropical island with palm trees, coconuts and white sand beaches and wonder if places like that really do exist? Well, they absolutely do!
George and I have visited our fair share of beautiful beaches together in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, but we were completely blown away with the beauty of Rarotonga. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, you will feel as though you are living inside a postcard island paradise.
Here are our best things to do in Rarotonga.
1. Take a loop of the whole island
The great thing about Rarotonga is the island is small! There are few destinations that you go where you can drive the whole way around the island and really get a feel for your surroundings. Doing the loop only takes an hour and it’s very scenic.
You can either hire a scooter, rent a car, take a push bike or have a relaxing trip on the loop bus. If you’re planning to hire a scooter, then you’ll need to get a bike license when you arrive, we didn’t end up doing this, but for tips this handy guide from The World Guys is great.
2. Visit Muri Beach
Muri Beach is popular for good reason – it’s, in our opinion, the most beautiful beach on the entire island. In fact, we’ve said that next time we go to Rarotonga we’ll stay there. The sand on Muri Beach is soft and white and the water is crystal clear. From Muri you can do just about everything you’d want to do in Rarotonga – go kayaking, swimming, work on your tan, hire a boat, take a tour – it’s all available. There’s also a small amount of snorkelling available right off the beach, although not the best on the island.
3. Take a Muri snorkelling tour
Boats leave from Muri Beach everyday and go out into the Muri lagoon for a morning of snorkelling followed by lunch and then a cultural show. We can’t recommend one of these tours enough.
We spontaneously walked past Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise while people were checking in for their tour and managed to get the last seats on the boat.
On the tour expect to see a wide variety of fish including giant clams, moray eel, giant trevellay, angel fish, butterﬂy fish, and trigger fish. You might even be lucky enough to see a turtle (we didn’t unfortunately).
You’ll then be dropped on a tiny island just a short boat ride from Muri and given a full spread for lunch with plenty of salads, bread rolls and fried banana (so good options for vegans and vegetarians) as well as fresh tuna. A cultural show follows, which includes plenty of singing, sarong lessons, coconut tree climbing and other fun.
4. Visit Punanga Nui market
On Saturday mornings the Punanga Nui market in the main town Avarua is a hustle and bustle of fruits, vegetables, cooked food, arts and crafts. Here you can buy a fresh coconut (just make sure you bring a reusable straw), listen to traditional music, see traditional dancing and eat yourself very full! Stay for an hour or two and get lost in the stalls.
If you’d like one of the fresh flower wreaths I’m wearing in the photos – this is the place to find one!
5. Eat at Muri night market
This quaint market a short walk from Muri beach is filled with food stalls and the perfect spot to have dinner and listen to local music. There are also fresh fruit stalls to stock up on tropical fruit (and it’s less expensive than other places). I’ll be honest, Rarotonga is not an easy place for vegans to visit (we were more flexi plant-based at the time so it wasn’t so much of an issue) so buying up on fresh fruit is a great idea!
5. Snorkel outside Fruits of Rarotonga (Titikaveka Beach)
Everyone thinks that the best snorkel spots are off Muri Beach, but actually the Titikaveka Beach at the southeastern corner of the island is filled with coral and an abundance of fish life, many of which are very close to the shore. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, so expect to see less people than you do at Muri.
The beach itself is beautiful to relax on with a backdrop of trees for shade and, once you’re done swimming, Charlies Cafe, situated right on the beach, is the perfect place to refuel.
6. Watch the sunset
The western side of the island is the best to catch the sunset. There are plenty of resorts along the coast where you can have dinner with a view. The Rarotongan is known as “the place” to catch a Raro sunset, so even if you don’t stay there, pop by for dinner or a drink and watch the sky turn orange.
Rarotonga is such an idilic location that it’s perfect for those milestones in life, whether it’s a honeymoon, celebrating a birthday or anniversary – or a huge milestone like proposing.
Unbeknown to me George planned the Rarotonga proposal many months out. He organised a candle lit dinner at The Rarotongan, with our own private beach view to watch the sunset.
For George’s tips on proposing check out his blog post.