With a tropical climate, warm water, stunning scenery and friendly locals, it’s hardly surprising the Cook Islands is such a popular destination for travelers. However with the increased popularity comes increased prices. Here are my top 5 things to do in Rarotonga if you are traveling on a budget.
This track is a must do if it is your first time in Rarotonga. The Cross Island track starts in the Avatiu Valley south of the main town Avarua and ends on the picturesque South Coast. The 360° views from the summit (known as the Needle) are spectacular and an excellent photo opportunity. There is a waterfall you can swim in at the end which is ideal after working up a sweat! The hike takes 3-4hrs and you can catch a bus back to town from the main road.
For me this location on the South West corner of the Island offers the best snorkeling. This sheltered turquoise lagoon is best visited 1hr either side of high tide. There is an abundance of fish and unique corals. Keep your eye out for, turtles, sea snakes, moray eels and giant clams!
For some pure relaxation spend the day at one of the secluded palm fringed beaches. Getting too hot? Just jump in the water and cool off. The view back towards the Islands lush volcanic peaks is one you wont forget.
If you are feeling more adventurous the Island offers numerous reef breaks. Hollow lefts and rights break over shallow reefs, perfect for the competent surfer or bodyboarder. All of the breaks can be paddled to within a matter of minutes and are best on a mid to high tide. One of the best breaks is a 15min walk from the airport! The locals are friendly and can offer some advice on where it will be pumping!
Having transport will give you the freedom to explore the Island at your own pace. The main coastal road circumnavigates the Island for 32km and offers plenty of photo opportunities. For a more adventurous route, explore the inland ring road (ancient road). This rugged palm fringed road will give you a real insight in to the locals way of life.