While some of our guests are quite content to relax away the days of their holiday, others are keen to see and explore as much of Rarotonga as possible. And there’s so much to do! Here’s an overview of some of our most popular tours/attractions, to help you plan in advance:
Highland Paradise Sunset Feast and Show Our favourite “island night” in a stunning mountain-side location. Highland Paradise sits on a reclaimed traditional village from 600 years ago. With beautifully planted gardens, they even offer a daytime garden tour. But on Mon/Wed/Fri evenings, it’s time for dining and dancing. Highland Paradise will pick you up at Palm Grove and take you directly to their venue. Staff will greet you and take you on a short stroll through the garden, including their cultural building and the sacred marae. You will then be escorted into their dining venue and treated to a delicious umu (underground oven) buffet meal. And when the drums start, it’s time for the energetic and authentic dancers to take the stage. Highland Paradise is the proud multiple-time winner of the Culture Award during the Air New Zealand Cook Islands biennial Tourism Awards. Definitely a night to remember. NZ$135pp (ages 5-11 NZ$65pp, under age 5 is free). Return transfers between Palm Grove and Highland Paradise are included in the price.
Koka Lagoon Cruise Fun for all ages, this cruise/snorkel/lunch trip is highly recommended. The Koka crew will take you on a short cruise through Muri Lagoon before stopping on the far side of Taakoka motu (islet) for some fabulous snorkelling and fish feeding. And then it’s back on the boat to cruise over to Koromiri motu; along the way, the Koka boys will be entertaining you with ukuleles and singing. Once at Koromiri, it’s time to disembark for a freshly prepared BBQ lunch with local fish and salads, and then a cultural experience with awesome coconut tree climbing demonstration and show. NZ$99pp (ages 6-12 $50pp, under age 6 is free). Return transfers between Palm Grove and Koka Lagoon can be arranged for an extra NZ$10pp (ages 6-12 $5pp, under age 6 is free).
Storytellers Eco-Cycling Tours Rarotonga has many stories – and many stories of stories! This wonderful tour operator combines a leisurely cycle tour with a host of stories about the island, and takes you off the beaten tourist routes. Very family friendly with cycles (and infant/child seats) for all ages. Storytellers offers a range of cycle tour options from 90 minutes to 4 hours, with prices starting at NZ$40pp. They also offer 2 walking tours starting at NZ$35pp (under age 11 NZ$25pp). All pricing includes return transfers to and from Palm Grove; some tours include lunch or snack or ice cream.
Maunga Tours Cross Island Trek Embark on an adventurous, informative hike across Rarotonga! A moderate level of fitness is required. Starting in Avarua on the northern side of the island, the hike takes you up and over the centre of the mountainous interior of Rarotonga. The hike is 5km over 3 hours, including scrambling up roots, descending using ropes, and multiple stream crossings, before finishing at Papua Waterfall in Vaimaanga. Maunga Tours will pick you up just after 8am and drop you back to Palm Grove after the hike. Available Mon/Wed/Fri for $80pp.
Progressive Dining Local dining in local homes. Cook Islanders love to extend hospitality to guests in their homes. This unique dinner option takes you to 3 different homesteads, 1 for each course, where the homeowner is also your chef. Delicious traditional Cook Islands’ foods made with the freshest local ingredients. A truly authentic experience about which many of our guests rave. NZ$99/pp (ages 4-12 NZ$70, under age 4 is free). Return transfers to and from Palm Grove are included in the pricing.
Ariki Adventures Turtle Safari Swimming with the turtles – need we say more? This is a bucket list tour for sure. The location is Avaavaroa passage, which is only accessible during low tide and only when accompanied by an experienced guide. Avaavaroa passage can be dangerous for those that aren’t familiar with the passage, and Ariki takes water safety very seriously. They require guests to be confident swimmers and have previous snorkel experience. And as a further safety measure, they do not accept children under age 12. Their Turtle Safari includes use of their super cool Sea Scooters! NZ$185pp. Transfers are not included. A portion of the tour price is donated to Te Ara O Te Onu, the Cook Islands Turtle Conservation Society.
Raro Buggys If you don’t mind getting muddy – and we mean really muddy – this buggy tour is very popular. Their motto is The Wetter the Better and they offer 90 minutes of exhilarating off-road fun in the mud, following by a much-needed cleansing swim in the lagoon. Drive yourself or bring a passenger along. NZ$175 for 1 driver, or NZ$200 total for driver and passenger. Drivers must be age 18+ and have an overseas drivers’ license; passengers must be age 4+.
Akura Fishing Charters If you love game fishing, this the tour for you. Akura can arrange 1/2 day charters, private charters, spear fishing, bottom fishing, and even Hen/Stag parties. Food and catering available for island tours, sunset cruises, whale watching, and more. They have a fleet of three boats, including the 40’ Akura that’s perfect for a big group. 1/2 charters start at $220 per person.
We will gladly take care of booking any of these tours – or any other tours/excursions in which you’re interested – while you’re staying with us. Some of the tours are very popular and sell out, so if you’ve got a must-do tour in mind, simply contact us before your visit and we can prebook the tour for you. If you have any questions about any part of this blog post, or perhaps have a suggestion for a topic for a future blog post, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Kia Manuia, Betsy