Rarotonga

Postcard perfect, the Cook Islands is a jewel in the South Pacific’s crown. Lagoons teem with technicolour tropical fish, limestone caves funnel into mountains, while lush green foliage carpets the group’s 17 atolls. Villages, beaches, paw paw patches, and fields of taro, mango and bananas abound in the Cooks and paint a stunning picture of island life.

The Cook Island’s largest island, Rarotonga is its tourism hub. Fringed by satin-white sand, swaying palms and a coral reef, Rarotonga has a relaxed ambience and serves as an ideal holiday getaway.

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Cook Islands, Tide of Tradition
Area 236 km² (15 islands)
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
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Cook Islands beach
Exploring the Cook Islands
Population Approx 19,000
Electricity 220 – 240v 50Hz
Time Zone GMT -10
Kayak on the water, Cook Islands
Languages English, Cook Islands Māori
Holiday Packages to Rarotonga Book now
Dining

Food and hospitality are an essential element of Cook Islander culture. As a result the islands host to an excellent range of intentional restaurants and cafes, and local eateries.

Thai, Indian and Italian restaurants are particularly popular in Rarotonga. Chefs also have a way of creating exciting fusion meals that savour both international and Pacific flavours. Some restaurants are only open for dinner; others cater specifically for breakfast and lunch. Resort restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t be surprised to eat dinner early in the evenings – most restaurants generally close at 9pm.

A number of island-style cafes focus on traditional dishes. All produce is harvested locally and used fresh; as is seafood. Local catches include deep sea fish such as tuna, mahi mahi and parrot fish. Fish is eaten both raw and cooked. Raw fish, called ika, is marinated in lemon juice or a mixture of vinegar, oil and salt and served with chopped onion and coconut cream.

Traditional cooking is complex and time-consuming. Food is often prepared in an umu – a Polynesian underground oven. Special occasions are usually marked by a feast called an umukai, which translates to "food from the oven". Meat is served as the main dish, and generally accompanied by ika and potato salad.

Kava is a traditional ceremonial drink. Coconut water is also popular. Most restaurants and cafes are licensed to sell beer, wine and spirits – Rarotonga has more than two dozen licensed bars and restaurants, many which feature live entertainment. Night spots stay open till around midnight, or later on Friday and Saturday nights.

Shopping

Shopping in the Cook Islands is a relaxed and friendly experience. Crafts, home wares, jewellery clothing, gifts and art can be found in Rarotonga’s main town, Avarua and at villages such as Muri Beach. Pushy sellers are rare and bargaining is not customary. Stores are generally open from 9am to 4pm during the week and on Saturday mornings, and closed on Sundays.

Te Punanga Nui market on Saturday morning is the highlight of Rarotonga’s week. Stalls brim with local fruit and vegetables, flowers, music and crafts, while grills cook traditional local food such as Ika Mata and chicken with taro to be eaten on the spot.

Traditional crafts, especially weaving, carving and tivaivai (stitching/sewing) are sold in a number of shops and markets. A revival in traditional carving has been evident in recent years. Woven pandanus baskets are also popular.

Rarotonga is blessed with fragrant and exotic flowers, many of which are used in locally-produced perfumes, oils and soaps. The most fragrant scents are tipani (frangipani), tiare (gardenia), and pitate (jasmine).

Rarotonga Holidays 
Rarotonga Beach Bungalows
Rarotonga Beach Bungalows
4 stars
Flights Accommodation Baggage
5 nights from $ 1,564 pp twin share* earn from 4692 Points^
See package details 

return airfares
checked baggage
5 nights accommodation

Travel dates
14/02/2017 to 22/03/2017
29/04/2017 to 29/06/2017
On sale until
15/05/2017
Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa
Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa
5 stars
Flights Accommodation Baggage
5 nights from $ 2,824 pp twin share* earn from 8472 Points^
See package details 

return airfares
checked baggage
5 nights accommodation

Travel dates
14/02/2017 to 22/03/2017
29/04/2017 to 29/06/2017
On sale until
15/05/2017
Little Polynesian Resort
Little Polynesian Resort
5 stars
Flights Accommodation Baggage
5 nights from $ 1,814 pp twin share* earn from 5442 Points^
See package details 

return airfares
checked baggage
5 nights accommodation

Travel dates
14/02/2017 to 22/03/2017
29/04/2017 to 29/06/2017
On sale until
15/05/2017