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Rarotonga

(3.7/5 based on 4,200+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: beaches, adventure, nature
The center of Rarotonga is a mass of peaks and ridges, closely thatched with dense jungle. Around the outer edge of the island, between verdant bush and pristine white beaches, you'll find a scattering of hotels and resorts; restaurants, bars, and cafes; paw paw patches and fields of taro, mango, and bananas. Explore the unspoiled scenery of the interior, or relax wholeheartedly into the laid-back Islander way of life. There are two bus routes--clockwise and counterclockwise around the island--and the buses stop on demand, allowing you to get around with ease (if at a sedate place). Encircled by a sheltering coral reef, the crystal clear waters surrounding the island are calm and perfect for fishing, swimming, diving, paddling, snorkeling, or simply splashing about. Rarotonga also serves as the gateway to the rest of the Cook Islands, with tiny traditional communities, ancient caves, uninhabited islets, and sandy atolls to discover. Make Rarotonga central to your Cook Islands travel plans using our Cook Islands tour planner.
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Where to stay

Since pristine white beaches and turquoise lagoons are never far away in Rarotonga, where you stay depends entirely on how much you want to spend. The hotels and resorts tend to cluster around the most scenic beaches and lagoons. At the higher end, luxury resorts offer pampering comfort, but often share their beaches with much more affordable accommodations. If you want to explore a certain part of the island, look for lodgings nearby: although the buses are extremely convenient, they tend to meander at a very slow pace.
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