Rarotonga Travel Guide

Welcome to Rarotonga

Iridescent, sapphire-blue water encapsulates the remote island of Rarotonga.  Uninterrupted, white-sand beaches frame sprawling, tropical forests and a lone, active volcano.  Despite it’s rugged, yet paradisaical, beauty, the Cook Islands are a humble place where you can expect to find grinning locals behind every palm tree.  

The island runs by its own clock, with a timezone called Island Time, buses arriving at less-than-regular intervals, and nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow.  Once you settle in to Rarotonga’s informal pace of life, you’ll get to truly relax and experience the Cook Islands’ Maori culture.

This in depth travel guide to Rarotonga offers everything you need to know for a relaxing holiday on the postcard-perfect beaches of Rarotonga; from Cook Islands travel tips, to the best time to visit, and our favourite places to stay.  Read on & plan an unforgettable trip to Rarotonga.

A definitive guide to the 15 things you HAVE to do when visiting Rarotonga.

From where to go snorkelling to which tours are worth paying for, and where you can find the absolute best burgers on the island (maybe even the world!). You won’t want to miss these.


Rarotonga Travel Guides

Few places in the world are easier to travel to than the Cook Islands.  Still, it certainly pays to be prepared!  Our comprehensive Rarotonga travel guides will assist you in planning the ultimate island getaway.  We’ll make sure you’ve packed everything you need (and nothing you don’t ), you’re prepared with the best snorkelling spots on the island, and that you have plenty of things to do in Raro.

Getting Around Rarotonga

Public Bus

Two public buses run a full, 45-minute loop around the island in opposite directions.  

The clockwise bus departs hourly from 7am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and from 8am to noon and 2pm to 4pm on Sunday.  The anti-clockwise bus departs hourly at 30-minutes past the hour, from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday, and not at all on Sunday.

The night bus runs at midnight on Friday and 2am on Saturday – if you are out drinking, opt for the bus.

A single ride, one-way costs $5 for an adult or $3 for a child.  A return trip costs $8 and $4 respectively.  A day pass is a convenient option, allowing unlimited rides in a day for $16.  Similarly, the family pass allows 2 adults and 2 children to hop on & off as many time sin a day for $26.  A 10-ride concession costs $30 for adults or $19 for children.

Tickets can be purchased on board.  To catch the bus, stand anywhere on the main road and wave to the driver.  When boarding, let the driver know where you wish to get off and they’ll try to let you know when you arrive.

Car & Scooter Rental

Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the European Union, can use their own license to rent a car and drive in Rarotonga.  To rent and drive a scooter, you will need to get a visitors motorcycle license and ensure you wear a helmet.

Your accommodation will be able to help you with this, otherwise, it is easy to find rentals all around the island.

The best time to visit Rarotonga is during the shoulder months of April & May or September & October.  You will find warm temperatures, lower rainfall, and significantly fewer fellow travellers.

Despite this, it can be great to visit the Cook Islands year-round – you just need to be prepared.  We break down the weather by every month of the year, as well as discuss the cheapest time to visit Rarotonga, the best time to visit for a honeymoon, and the coolest festivals & events that run throughout the year.

Rarotonga Travel Tips

Currency: New Zealand Dollar

Electricity Socket: 220V AC electricity

Rarotonga Visa: A visa can be easily obtained on arrival for most visitors.  It is valid for up to 31 days.

Safety: Rarotonga is a very safe destination.  As with anywhere, exercise caution when alone or out at night.

Language: English is widely spoken, however, the official language is Cook Islands Maori.

Banks & ATMs: ANZ, Bank of South Pacific, and Bank of the Cook Islands.  There are a lot of ATMs scattered around the island.

Sim Cards: Grab a Visitor Sim from BlueSky for $49.  It includes 3GB of data and is the only operator on the island.  Service can be sketchy. Stores in Avarua or the Airport.

Water:  It is safest to purchase and consumer bottled water, otherwise, ensure you boil any tap water before drinking.


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