The Cook Islands is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. It uses New Zealand dollars as its currency, though they do have their own unique and attractively collectable $1, $2, and $5 coins. There is also a special set of $3 notes, worth keeping your eye out for!
There are now plenty of ATMs around Rarotonga (2011 update). There are several in Avarua (the capital - on Rarotonga). One is at the ANZ Bank, down the eastern end of town, near the round-about. ATMs can be found at petrol stations and I can remember at least two more around the island - one at Muri (ANZ), and one down on the south coast in Titikaveka.
On Aitutaki there are just two ATMs (2005 info). The ANZ one is at the Mango Store (pictured), about 5 minutes walk south of the Pacific Resort. The Westpac ATM is by the post office in the centre of Arutanga.
You will pay 15-20% more for goods in Rarotonga than you would in New Zealand. However, if you are doing a self-catering trip, you can get everything you need in Avarua. Fruit and veges are expensive, as is fresh milk, and meat. Remember it is transported all the way from New Zealand! Locally grown produce is best at the Punanga Nui market and tomatoes and eggplant were good buys when I was there (2005). 2011 update: I was surprised to see that prices of chicken and mince in the main supermarket in Avarua were about the same price as back in NZ. Fruit and vegetables grown locally were abundant and well priced.
Favorite thing: I think the best way to really enjoy Rarotonga is to take it easy . Keep your plans loose. The weather here changes with no notice. It can go from sunny and bright to cloudy and windy in minutes.....its a little island in the middle of the ocean. It's best to decide like that , what you want to do....maybe sleep in late ....and wake to the sounds of the roosters...that constantly crow ...anytime of day. A great passtime is to put on yor snorkel and float around in the lagoon . You really don't have to swim ...you can just float and watch the beautiful fish swim around you.
On Friday evenings in Avarua, the food market is held, with all sorts of fun and tempting delights. Try fresh samosas with some of the chutneys from the fruits of Rarotonga.
Saturdays are the big market days, and you can get great sale prices on those lovely pareaus you've been eyeing all week, as well as handmade jewelry to go with them. Catch the rhythm of the island music, and buy some CD's to take it home with you.
Fondest memory: I can't decide if it is the sheer natural South Pacific beauty of the lagoons and gardens, or the joyful friendly people with their great good humor. I loved this place, and it's still in my dreams...
Favorite thing: O'otu beach is probably the best swimming beach on Aitutaki (leaving aside the beaches on the little lagoon islands). Unfortunately, you need your own transport to get there from the western side of the island, as there is no public transport on Aitutaki. A better bet would be to stay there. I saw three beachfront places to stay. Samade has new looking free standing units, as does Ranginui's Retreat. Just off the beach is Akitua Island, which is where the Pearl Beach Resort is. There used to be a bridge linking Akitua to the mainland but it was destroyed by a tropical cyclone in early 2005. Now there is a ferry service between the resort and O'otu Beach, but unless you have permission to come onto the island, you will be refused at the ferry. It's a very exclusive place!
Favorite thing: If you're not into the arduous cross-island hike over Rarotonga's rugged interior, you can drive to the hospital, high above the west coast and get a good panorama along that coast from the area just past the carpark.
This is a view of One Foot Island's coastline. This island (properly called Tapuaeta'i) is a popular destination for lagoon cruises. In the afternoon there can be up to five boats moored offshore and it is a little busy compared to other spots around the lagoon. However, it is very beautiful and a great swimming spot.
There is a little post office on the island, which opens for tourists and sells stamps (Aitutaki has its own stamps) and postcards. You can also get your passport stamped with a special "One Foot Island" visa!
Favorite thing: Papau Island is in the Aitutaki lagoon. It's northern beach is a little rocky and the island best serves the travller as a rest stop when kayaking around the lagoon as it is about half way between O'otu Beach on the mainland and Akaiami Island.
Favorite thing: I've already raved on about Aitutaki lagoon in other sections of my Cook Islands page. Here however is a beautiful beach that you can easily paddle to in a kayak from O'otu Beach on the mainland, if you want to escape to your own paradise for a day. The swimming is good here, but bring your own food and water and make sure you take any rubbish you generate away with you.
On a lagoon near Muri resides the schooner Silent Lady, whispering of another era, pirates and adventurers, and of course Captain Cook himself.
Take a sunset cruise on the Lady, and pretend you are living the lead role in the most shameless romance novel...
Favorite thing: It's quite a little challenge to do it in the heat and humidity, but the views and the dip in the waterfall are rewarding! The trek takes about 3-4 hours and it's a bit strenous. Sometimes the path is hard to find and mozzies can be quite annoying. Don't do the trek when it's raining or after rainfall as it gets very slippery.
When in the Cook Islands you must rent a scooter and travel the Island, it is the only way to see the all of the beaches and the rural areas. $10.00 Canadian you can't go wrong.You must do some snorkelling in the clear blue waters that are full of tropical fish.
The picture is near the Raratonga beach resort you dont have to be a guest to enjoy the beach here.
Fondest memory: The best memory I have is sitting on the patio at the Edgewater Resort watching the sunset.
Make sure you do the cross island trek/hike and be sure togo to church on sunday ( i didn't) but I hear its really fab they sing amazingly well (Peter the German video taped it!) and lots of free food.
Fondest memory: Be sure to take time to talk with the locals, if you're into the toursity things see and Island Night Dance show and eat lots of paw-paw (papaya)
Pictures will have to wait until i get home in June..
Go to the Fruits of Rarotonga for the best snorkeling on the Island
Fondest memory: Our Son got married in the Cook Islands in Feb 2000. The people of Rarotonga made the wedding the most special time of all our lives.
see a cultural performance, the best dance and drum group on the island is 'Orama' or vision in enlish!!
theyre just awesome, and are actually travelling frequently worldwide to showcase their stunning performance.
Fondest memory: sunbathing at Muri Beach on one of the islands, and umm, pub crawling from RSA to-Nu Bar-CocoBar-TJ's-and the grand finale at Staircase,..Great fun!(if you remember much the day after!!)
Snorkelling is a great pass time. Go to The Fruits or Black Beach. Take Capt. Tama's Lagoon Cruizes. You go for a ride in a glass bottom boat, go snorkeling, and have a BBQ at one of the Islands on Muri Beach. Rent a scooter and drive the inner circle road for a real taste of Island life. Don't forget to go to Church on Sunday. The singing is fantastic! Be sure to dress up.
Fondest memory: It's the whole atmosphere of the place. The friendly people, the laid back lifestyle, the warm tropical weather, the vegetation, the beaches. It's like stepping back into time. Sunsets are spectacular.
THIS PICTURE: Sunset at Manuai Beach Hotel
PO Box 700, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Good for: Business
This place is amazing! The service is top notch. The resort is very nice. We were greeted by...more
Main Road, Rarotonga, Titikaveka, Cook Islands
Good for: Families