Flight Centre's Marie Pilkington recently spent time in the beautiful Cook Islands. Here Marie shares with us her love affair with Rarotonga and why it's her favourite Pacific Islands destination. Breathtaking sunsets, favourite Rarotonga accommodation ideas and the best things to do in Rarotonga. In the coming weeks we'll also bring you Marie's experiences on Aitutaki and Rarotonga Weddings.
It’s official. I’ve found my favourite place in the Pacific Islands – the Cook Islands!
I’ve been to a few places in the South Pacific – Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, all amazing places and we’re extremely lucky in New Zealand to live so close to them all, but the Cook Islands is a stand out favourite, and here’s why!
At only 34 kilometres in circumference, you’re only ever 25 minutes away from your destination in Raro. It’s so easy to get around as there is one main road you use to go ‘clockwise’ or ‘anticlockwise’ around the island.
The easiest and cheapest way to get around is by scooter. It’s perfect – you can take in the amazing lagoon as you cruise along and it’s all year round air-conditioning with the wind in your face! Many resorts have scooters you can hire directly through them, otherwise check out scooter hire in the main township of Avarua.
Cook Island Drivers Licence
You need to get a Cook Island’s drivers Licence in order to ride a scooter or drive a car. It’s a really easy process. Simply head to the Police station in Avarua (the main town), present your NZ licence, pay $20 and fill out the form and you’ll get a Cook Islands’ drivers licence that is valid until your next birthday – it even has your photo on it, a perfect souvenir!
If you don’t have a motorbike licence, you’ll need to sit a small practical test, but it’s easy and doesn’t take long.
There are so many places to stay in Raro – from backpackers right on the lagoon through to amazing five-star resorts. My pick is Crown Beach Resort in Aorangi. The resort is simply stunning and is on the sunset side of the island. You get uninterrupted views of the sun as it sets behind the lagoon each evening – breathtaking!
I recommend splashing out and booking a Courtyard Pool Suite where you have your own private garden and pool! The rooms are exquisite with four-claw bath, rainforest shower and super king beds but the private pool is the highlight. Make sure you head to their Oceans Restaurant for happy hour – there are three happy hours a day and all are buy one, get one free!
Te Vara Nui Village
For the ultimate island experience, head to Te Vara Nui Village in Muri Beach. You can choose to do the village tour, where you learn about Polynesian history and culture, or the night show, to see spectacular island dancing or you can do a combination of both!
This place has only been open eight months and it’s very impressive. It’s set over water and is well worth going. Dinner is included with the combo and the night show and it’s delicious. It’s a traditional umu (cooked in an earth oven similar to a hangi, but Cook Island style) and you won’t go home hungry!
While you’re scooting around, there are many places to stop and jump into the lagoon and check out the stunning underwater wildlife. The best spot however, is opposite Fruits of Rarotonga, which is a little smoothie and fruit shop in Tikioki Beach.
Remember to take reef shoes with you as the coral can be quite sharp.