Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands, a group of 15 islands located in the South Pacific. The Cook Islands have a total land area of 92 square miles and are scattered over an ocean area the size of India. The Cook Islands were settled by Polynesians over 1,200 years ago and were eventually named after Captain James Cook, who first sighted several of the islands in the 1770s. Annexed by New Zealand in 1901, they attained independence on the 4th August 1965. Rarotonga has a population of less than 10,000 and a circumference of just 32km (20 miles). It is almost completely surrounded by coral reef, creating a calm, protected lagoon. The interior boasts lush mountains and tropical rain forests.
The island offers a host of activities including hiking, biking, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, tennis and golf. There are a variety of tours and sight-seeing excursions to choose from - or while away the day on the pristine white sand beaches and in the stunning lagoon.
FOR 2022: Due to Covid, Rarotonga has sadly lost several of our airline connections. As of June 2022, you can fly to Rarotonga via Auckland on Air New Zealand and Jetstar. Watch this space as we are hopeful new airline connections will be coming soon. FYI, prior to Covid/March 2020, Rarotonga had the following airline connections: Air New Zealand offers flights to Rarotonga from Auckland, New Zealand, Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles, CA, USA. In addition, Virgin Australia and Jetstar offer several flights a week from Auckland, New Zealand. There is also a weekly flight from Papeete, Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui.
Palm Grove can arrange airport transfers for both international and domestic flights for NZ$18pp one way (1/2 price for children under age 12) until 31 March 2023, and NZ$20pp one way (1/2 price for children under age 12) as of 01 April 2023. We have on-site motorbike rentals (please note a motorbike license is required to rent a motorbike in the Cook Islands) and we can arrange free pickup for car rentals. The best car rental rates can be secured by booking in advance; we recommend www.islandcarhire.co.ck There is also a local bus service with a bus stop at the property; the bus stops out front every 30 mins during the day and every hour during the evening (restricted schedule on Sundays). Bicycles are available for rent from several locations and there are multiple local taxis.
The Cook Islands uses New Zealand currency. There are three banks in Avarua (main township) for currency exchange and other banking needs, as well as a Western Union. There are several ATMs on the island, including one just a short walk from Palm Grove. Most stores and restaurants accept credit cards. Please note there are no Amex merchant facilities in The Cook Islands.
There is a large variety of wonderful restaurants and cafés on Rarotonga serving local and international cuisine. The Yellow Hibiscus, Palm Grove’s on-site restaurant, is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with live music 3 nights a week. Daily tropical breakfast buffet is complimentary for all guests.
Stores in Avarua (main township) are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, and Saturday from 9am to 12pm. Most smaller shops around the island are open evenings and on Sundays. Don’t miss the Punanga Nui local craft market every Saturday morning!
Tours and activities
Rarotonga offers a wide range of tours and activities and our receptionist can help you with any enquiries or bookings. Tours and activities include scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, swimming with the turtles, whale watching (in season), kite-surfing, SUP, lagoon cruises, 4x4 safari tours, buggy tours, ATV tours, progressive dinners, island nights, cycling tours, cross island treks, conservation area tours, scenic flights, spa excursions, craft tours, local brewery tour, tuk-tuk tours, and more.
Local music and dancing
Enjoy an Island Night during your visit! Featuring local food, music and dancing, they are performed at several island venues each week. We highly recommend the Sunset Feast and Show at Highland Paradise Cultural Centre, currently available Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Rarotonga has a 24-hour hospital which caters to both appointments and walk-ins. There are several pharmacies and private doctors on the island, as well as dental services.
Diseases and pests
There are no poisonous animals or insects in the Cook Islands, and dengue fever is not indigenous here. We’d recommend you bring mosquito repellent, but all of our rooms are fully screened and we have the property sprayed regularly.
Rarotonga has warm temperatures all year-round. But, as with other places, our summer is warmer than our winter. You can expect daytime winter temps of 27°C/80°F, and daytime summer temps of 32°C/90°F.
Internet and Wifi
As we are a small island in the middle of the Pacific, wifi and internet costs here are much higher than you’d experience at home. There is only one provider: Vodafone. There is no free wifi available at any accommodation/restaurant/café/store in the country, so be prepared to pay for wifi if you need access to it. Wifi prices are all based on upload/download usage, not time, and speeds are generally not suitable for large downloads or streaming. So, if you plan to watch some movies during your visit, we recommend you download them to your device before you travel!