Rarotonga, Cook Islands
I have recently got back from a trip away to Rarotonga with a group of friends. Rarotonga is the most popular and largest island of the Cook Islands which is located in the South Pacific. It only takes around 30-40 minutes to drive around the whole island. This is a great destination for people who simply want to just relax on holiday and go with the flow. Surrounded by palm trees, beautiful scenery and pristine clear waters, Rarotonga is definitely a great place to sit back and relax for a calming, peaceful getaway.
My friends and I grabbed cheap flights when a deal for Rarotonga was advertised with Jetstar. I had only flown with Jetstar domestically prior to this trip away but there were no problems when booking the wheelchair in at check-in which was great. The only thing I would recommend to people flying with either a wheelchair or who have a disability is don’t pre book your preferred seat on the plane as Jetstar’s airline rules are that people who require assistance or who need a wheelchair are only allowed to sit in row 2 on the aircraft for safety reasons so don’t waste your money booking a preferred seat.
*Have you read the article I wrote for Contiki?* – http://www.contiki.com/six-two/passion-for-travel/
Transportation around Rarotonga:
Rent A Car – As a group we found that the cheapest way was to rent a car. This allowed us to drive to and from activities, restaurants and other places ourselves. It is quite simple to drive around the island of Rarotonga as there isn’t much traffic and there is only one main road that goes around the whole island.
Buses – There is a clockwise and anticlockwise bus that goes around the island, this may be a cheaper option to get around for some people.
Scooters – Quite a few people rent out scooters to get around the island.
Taxi’s – Prices vary depending on where you are heading but the drivers are helpful and friendly but I think this form of transportation probably isn’t the cheapest. Although they are an easy way to get to and from the airport. I would recommend using ‘Cook Island Taxi’s’ if you are in need of a taxi.
Club Raro Resort – This resort is located just 2.5km from the international airport and 1.5km from the main township on the island. Club Raro Resort have a restaurant, cafe, an outdoor pool, a swim up pool bar and happy hour! There are great seating areas where you can admire the beautiful view of the ocean – we even spotted whales! Based on the room that we had, I don’t think a fully bound wheelchair user would manage. There is a big step to get into the rooms and the room and bathroom itself wouldn’t be big enough for a big wheelchair. Since I’m not wheelchair bound, I was able to just walk around the room. If you are in a wheelchair and are thinking of staying here, I would recommend contacting them and asking if they have accessible rooms or not. Other than that, the resort was nice and I would recommend staying here.
Activities to do in Rarotonga:
Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes – This was one of my favourite activities. It was a fun day out filled with snorkelling, a buffet lunch and entertainment. It started with a trip out to the reef to snorkel with the beautiful tropical fish – the ocean was so clear and warm. After snorkelling, we headed over to another island for a BBQ buffet lunch – which was delicious! The buffet included coconut, fish, bananas, paw paw, bread and salads. After lunch we got to watch and learn how to tie sarongs and how to husk a coconut! Definitely an activity worth doing in Rarotonga! https://www.captaintamas.com/
Rehab’s Raro Pub Crawl – This was a fun and entertaining night and a great way to experience how to party in Rarotonga! The pub crawl happens every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Ariki Adventures Night Paddle Board Tour – This is a fun activity to do especially as a group. You start out by paddle boarding either on a single paddle board or on a gigantic one which can hold 12 people at once! The paddle boards have lights on the bottom of them which can be turned on and it lights up the ocean beneath you. This was the first time I had paddle boarded at night time and it was a cool experience. We paddled to another island and played some games and learnt a bit about the other islands then we paddled back to the main island. This activity takes around 90 minutes. https://www.arikiadventures.com/
Cultural Show at ‘The Islander Restaurant and Hula Bar’ – Tuesday night is ‘Island Night’ which includes a cultural performance with cultural songs, fire and hula dances. There is a fee for the cultural show but everyone really enjoyed it so it’s I think it’s worth the cost!
Cultural Show – The Islander Hotel Restaurant & Bar
Punanga Nui Cultural Market – This market has a range of different things to offer, there is fresh local fruit, veggies and island food that you can buy. There is either live or recorded music playing, lots of clothing, souvenirs, jewellery and art. Definitely worth taking a trip to the market! It is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm but the recommended day to go is Saturday because this is when most of the stalls and shops are open but it does close at 2pm on this day. http://www.enjoycookislands.com/see-do/punanga-nui-cultural-market
Places to eat in Rarotonga:
Muri Night Market – This is probably one of my favourite places that we went to eat, they had a range of different foods available and the vibe of the market was so nice! They sometimes have free entertainment as well. The Muri Night Markets are open from 5pm on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Charlie’s Cafe – A small cafe with nice food, located right next to the beach.
The Mooring Fish Cafe – Another nice cafe to go too, they have great hot chips! Also has a lovely view!
Vili’s Burger Joint – Literally the best cheeseburger I have had in my entire life! The burgers are so cheap yet so delicious. The chips and milkshake were good too!
Accessibility of Rarotonga:
It was more accessible than I thought but I think it would be quite tricky getting to and from activities, restaurants and around the island if you were fully wheelchair bound. There is also a lot of gravel instead of paved footpaths which may not be suitable for most people in wheelchairs. ~