On our last night in the Cook Islands we decided to splash out a bit and stay in a resort. The Edgewater had been recommended to us as a more affordable option. From the driveway, the resort looks a bit like a concrete jungle and seemed a bit dated and faded and certainly the pool and bar area is showing its age. However, the northern wing is very new and the room we got was well presented and modern. The staff here are super friendly and helpful and I have to mention the wonderful Emmy at reception who helped us out. We ended up with a large room right on the beach, with the biggest bathroom I have ever had in a hotel of any kind! Being right on the beach was very nice, though the beach isn't anything to rave about. Being quite a steep beach here there are fine views though out across the reef.
While we were sitting around on the beach in the afternoon, there was a wedding. Apparently there were 7 there that week. The Edgewater does special wedding packages and the weddings themselves are quite cool to watch. The bride is carried out to the beach on a litter decorated with palm leaves by four Cook Islanders and escorted by a sort of Cook Islands herald with a spear and in traditional costume.
We found this place on the net and chose it because we were amazed at the expensive accommodation on Aitutaki. This is definitely a backpackers/budget traveller's choice. The house has several rooms, two basic bathrooms, and a small kitchen. There is a large common room and the house fronts a beach.
The beach is not that great for swimming, and is not very picturesque, considering the travel brochure images one has of Aitutaki. A channel for boats in the middle of the beach is murky and the area around it smells of dead fish.
However, the accommodation was very clean and perfectly adequate for us. Tom and Tareta (his daughter) are very friendly and helpful. It is just a short 10-15 minute walk to Arutanga, where the shops and Post Office are. There are also stores close by for basic needs. The only problem with being on the west side of the island is that you need transport to get to O'otu Beach and the lagoon.
The nightly rate for a room was $48 ($24 pp when shared by two). There are two separate bungalows that each sleep 2 people.
Tom will pick you up and take you to the airport for $8.
In 2005, seven of us rented two beach houses from Rarotonga Backpackers, which were located right on the beach on the western side of Rarotonga. The houses are very private and have every facility you need for a stay. Each house had a well equipped kitchen, a laundry, good size bedrooms, and bathrooms.
The beach in front of the houses is a long white stretch of soft coral sand. In front of the houses it is a little too shallow for swimming, but just 100 metres south there is a lovely swimming spot. You can watch the sunset at night from your porch, or doze in a hammock. One bonus for us was seeing humpback whales just beyond the reef! They regularly passed by at about lunch time each day. Once I even saw one do a back-flip!
There is a small shop across the road and you can catch the bus from the end of the driveway.
For lots of specific information about other accommodations, take a look at the Island Hopper Vacations website (see link below). They provide not only hotels & resorts, but longer term rentals, and a section with listings for budget & backpacker accommodations as well. There are also links for eco tours, birdwatching, cruising, deep seas fishing, & just about anything else you may wish to check out.
The people in their office in Avarua are great, very helpful & friendly even if you aren't there to purchase a tour of any kind.
Ranginui's Retreat is all you are looking for in a self-catering bungalow. It is right on the lagoon, has its own lagoon cruise service, Wet and Wild, and has a great package deal. Kitchens have everything you need if you want to cook. The units are clean, the staff friendly and helpful and is a short walk in either direction to good food. Samade's serves food all day and Josie's does breakfast and has a super hamburger at lunch. Ranginui's is the spot on Aitutaki.
For a unique quaility, try this one. When the tide is incoming, you can step from you unit slip into the lagoon and ride the tide to Samade's and get out to grab a beer or whatever you want. Oh, don't forget to throw some money in your swim shorts.
Reefcomber is self-catering bungalows. This place is a bit pricey at $200.00NZ per night, but it is worth it. You have a very swimmer friendly lagoon in front, a nice beach and best of all you can hear the ocean breaking from your bed. You can also walk for miles on the beach. It is very private, quite and off the road. It had a nice kitchen and there was a market at the end of the driveway with gas pumps.
A great location on the lagoon with a chance to see incredible sunsets each night. You are on the landing path of the jets, but for me that was a bonus. Besides it only comes every few days and at night. Only stay in bungalow 1 or 3. The rest of the accomodations are behind these two units.
First, you must get a beachfront bungalow. There are only four. They are studios with a nice porch facing the ocean. They also include a bathroom with a shower and a small kitchen for cooking. Hammocks are placed around the property and it also has a nice deck for everyone to enjoy. The ocean is just past the lawn. It sounds so great at night. It is very low key and the owners are so accommodating. There is also a pool and BBQ spot. The units are also away from the road.
Your sitting on the deck watching the sun go down, the warm breeze off the ocean is swirling around you all the while you are listening to the crashing waves on the reef. That's the Sunrise.
Or you are sitting on the beach with your cup of tea in hand watching the sun come up over the mountains behind you, the warm breeze off the ocean is swirling around you all the while you are listening to the crashing waves on the reef. That's the Sunrise too.
I can't word it better than they do:
"With the concept and design of our complex we have tried to give the backpacker a higher quality of budget accommodation by creating a feeling of spaciousness with all our rooms, i.e. high ceiling, open plan living and large decking areas, but keeping "Budget Price" in mind. "
Choose between the self-contained bungalow with private kitchen, sun deck & bathroom, a range of private rooms, or the dormitory style housing. They offer FREE airport pick-up as well, so you really can't beat it!
Prices run from NZ$20 to NZ$70, you do the math.
It's fine if you want to party all night long, otherwise it's too noisy. Not the cleanest bathrooms and kitchen...
Friendly guesthouse near shops with a beautiful beach. Unfortunately the water is a bit shallow for swimming, but you get great sunsets.
Rooms are very basic with fan. Bathrooms are shared and the hot water supply isn't very reliable.
A single was 32NZ$/per night in 2004.
Nice and clean guesthouse with friendly owners. Fresh mangos and bananas for breakfast!
You can choose between different rooms from single to 6-bed-dorm.
The beautiful beach is just across the road. You can hire snorkelling gear from the guesthouse or the caf? next door.
The bus-stop is infront of the caf? aswell.
I got a fantastic deal with Canada 3000 on staying here for 12 nights, but unfortunately that tour outfit was a casualty of 9/11. Ordinarily I choose much smaller & more intimate inns or B&B's than this. It is a full resort, with all the amenities, and everything is priced accordingly.
So I strolled down the road or motor-scootered elsewhere for meals. In exploring further, I decided I'd likely consider Muri Beachcomber, if I were to go again (which I'd like to do!).
The resort is located in a great spot on Aroa Beach, with excellent snorkeling right outside your door. If you do stay there, it's well worth upgrading to a beachfront room , I was so glad I did. Sleep with your patio doors open, and let the sound of waves rhythmically pounding the reef and palm fronds rustling lull you to sleep.
The Rarotongan is also reknowned for its Wednesday & Saturday night traditional island Umukai Feast, a fabulous array of foods cooked in an "umu", or underground oven. Stuff yourself silly while you watch the erotic & enregetic traditional Cook Island dancers.
Beachside Bungalows, owned by Nan...
I booked it at the airport...
Located at 3 m from the beach !!!
The whole area is set on the beach amongst lush beautiful greenery and tropical flowers. At night while the sun is setting and your sitting on the patio, you are at times fortunate enough to see the whales playing. The rooms vary from meek accomodation to VIP deluxe. The hotel hosts one of the best "Island Nights", with hoola dancers, warriers and a huge buffet.
The views are unbelieveable. The pool is quite small, but you are spending most of your time in the warm/bath water ocean, swimming, snorkeling etc..
This resort is not cheap, but if it's an idyllic island holiday you are after, then this is a good place to come. The huts with their palm leaf rooves and local artwork on the walls are set overlooking the lagoon, or admist palm trees and tropical flowers, and it is a short stroll to the hammocks strung up beneath palm trees next to the impossibly blue lagoon
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