Cook Islands Visitor Guide Edition 70

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Please take this copy 2023 - 2024 Edition 70 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE A comprehensive guide to Eating & Drinking in Rarotonga SEE & DO EAT & DRINK SHOPPING LOCAL STORIES S TA y- A -W HILE MEET PM MARK BROWN CYCLING IN PARADISE 16 40 27
Alexandra Adoncello)

Edition 70 2023-2024

7 Prime Minister's Welcome Mark Brown PM & Minister for Tourism

8 Experience Coco House Bros

A distinctive Cook Islands style of house music

9 Calendar

Look out for these exciting events

10 Internet & WIFI in the Cook Islands

Vodafone answers all your questions

12 Tourism, the shape of things to come

CEO of Cook Islands Tourism Karla Eggelton talks

16 Meet the Cook Islands Prime Minister & Minister for Tourism

Interview with the country's leader

19 The worthy eco warrior of the Cook Islands

A chat with Allana Matamura Smith from the Te Ipukarea Society

22 Rarotonga Hot Sauce

Meet the man behind Rarotonga's award-winning hot sauces

26 Te Vara Nui Village

Rarotonga's spectacular overwater island show

27 Eating & Drinking in Rarotonga

A compact guide to eating, drinking and entertainment

38 Map of Rarotonga

Comprehensively identifying key locations

40 Cycling in Paradise

A talk with Corrina Tucker about the joys of cycling & walking tours

44 Adventures in Paradise

So much to see & do offshore and onshore

47 The man behind Pa's Cross Island Trek

Interview with Bruce Goldsworthy

55 The vital nature of regenerative tourism

A Q&A with Cook Islands

Tourism’s Brad Kirner

56 Visit Aitutaki

A tranquil holiday experience

62 An eco-lover's little paradise

This pristine island is less than an hour's flight from Rarotonga

63 Stay-a While in the Cook Islands

A catalogue of varied accommodation choices

72 Rarotonga Airport Departures & Arrivals

A guide to the facilities of Cook Islands airline hub

74 A new bestselling book about the Cook Islands

Written by local, Jean Mason


money, driving, safety, bugs, electricity & Sundays!
11 Need to Know!  About
55 19 47
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"Turou oro mai"

t is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors to the Cook Islands - both those who are returning and those visiting our shores for the first time.

We are delighted to have you here in our “little piece of paradise” after what has been a tough few years for us all.

From basking in the sunshine and relaxing on the golden sand of any one of our beautiful beaches, to enjoying a soothing dip in the lagoon, there is plenty to see and do during your stay with us.

The Cook Islands people are renowned for their hospitality. You can be sure that you’ll receive a friendly smile, a warm kia orana and a willingness to help wherever we can.

IWe want your time with us to be as enjoyable and carefree as possible. For the intrepid adventurers, our mountains provide the perfect backdrop for a challenging but rewarding trek with views that are breathtaking.

The ocean is a playground for those who want to explore beneath the surface or would rather stay on the water while catching a fish or two. There is also ample opportunity to gain intimate insight into our culture, traditions, and our cuisine. Food or kaikai, which is gratefully gifted to us from the land and the sea is centre to our existence - it brings us together. We hope you love our place as much as we love sharing it with you.

Kia orana e kia manuia

Hon Mark Brown

Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism enjoycookislands

Publisher: Alastair Blount


Design: S Yoseph

Print: Crucial Colour NZ

Distribution Rarotonga:

Distribution Aitutaki: 31 009 or

Postal: PO Box 30, Avarua, Cook Islands

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that information and content in this publication is accurate; no responsibility is accepted for inadvertent errors or omissions.

Copyright © 2023 Cook Islands Sun Ltd. All rights reserved.

Front cover image: Rakei Manava National Dance Costume; Courtesy: Cook Islands Trading Corporation Ltd


Experience the distinctive sound of Coco House Bros; you won’t regret it!

In the vibrant music scene of the Cook Islands the artistic trio known as Coco House Bros has been making captivating house music for over ten years.

The moniker Coco House Bros is perfect in describing where they come from, what they stand for and who they are. Coco House Bros hail from a tropical island littered with coconuts = Coco, they represent house music = House and they are platonic soulmates = Bros, hence the name Coco House Bros.

Comprising of two males and a female, all three are DJs and producers, all three have busy day jobs. They dedicate most of their limited spare time to the Coco House Bros ‘passion’ project.

Committed to their craft, the trio, Mark Zow (Marcus Niszow), Doctor E (Damon Enoka), and Anthom (Ani Thompson) have revolutionised the local music landscape with their passion for their unique style of house music.

The distinctive Coco House Bros sound and style has brought together generations of music lovers on

to the dance floor around the Cook Islands, and internationally.

Coco House Bros perform at a diverse range of events, captivating audiences and creating unforgettable experiences.

From the soothing vibes of ‘Sunset Sessions’ at 21.3 Vaiana’s Beach Bar to the glamorous extravaganza of ‘Hula Glitterbox’ at the Islander Hotel & Hula Bar. And there’s the maritime bliss of ‘Decks on Deck’ at Rarotonga Sailing Club, the underground allure of ‘Rehab Ministry’ at Rehab Nightclub, and the magical nights of the ‘Full Moon Sessions’ at the Ukulele Bar at Tamarind House.

Coco House Bros have created their own brand of groove driven and emotive house music that resonates with party goers of all ages and walks of life.

Wherever they go, Coco House Bros’ audiences immerse themselves in the infectious beats and the rhythmic energy of their special Cook Islands-style of house music.

To find a Coco House Bros' gig, contact the venues for dates, visit or follow them on FB and IG.



Look out for these exciting events


July – October

Rarotonga & Aitutaki

View humpback whales migrating north to warmer waters during the Winter. Ask locals for the best viewing spots.

TE MAEvA NuI 2023



31 July – 4 August 2023


Cook Islands biggest annual cultural celebration uniting all islands.


31 August - 2 September 2023


Two events: a 4-person team challenge and a weightlifting competition.



16 September 2023


Two-person race - 5.6k SUP, 8.2k cross island run, 45.7k mountain bike ride.



21 – 27 September 2023


A fun racing event for runners whether social, recreational or competitive. RoundRarotongaRoadRace/

R ARO 7s

5 – 7 October 2023


Action-packed rugby, held in the friendly Tereora National Stadium.


27 – 29 November 2023


Featuring a float parade, competitions, and Miss Tiare and Mama Muumuu pageants.


4 – 7 December 2023


Award-winning, spectacular paddling events on the lagoon for men and women.


1 – 8 December 2023


Great spectator event with all levels of netball players, men and women.



29 April - 2 May 2024


Runners/walkers choose 10km, half marathon 21.1Km, & 42.2km marathon course.


April - May 2024 (TBA)


An entertaining event for visitors to experience top notch Cook Islands dancing.



2 - 7 May 2024


The Triathlon is more than a race; it is a festival of events held over one week.


11 – 14 May 2024


Bi-annual rugby event based on ‘Fun, Friendship and Fraternity’.

Round Rarotonga Road Race Raro 7s Motu2Motu


Keep connected during your trip with vodafone Travel SIMs and WiFi vouchers, with over 300 hotspots throughout the Cook Islands.

Where is vodafone located?

Vodafone has a store at Rarotonga International Airport just as you exit the arrival hall. It’s open for all international flights.

Vodafone’s main office is in Parekura (Avarua), which is open MondayFriday from 8.00am4.00 pm. They also have an outlet in the CITC Avarua Shopping Centre complex in Avarua open Monday-Friday 8.30am4.00pm, and Saturday 9.30am-12.30pm.

They also have outlets on all islands, except Nassau, Suwarrow, Takutea and Manuaue.

What visitor services do vodafone offer?

vodafone Travel SIM

Vodafone Cook Islands has two Travel SIMs to choose from that come bundled with a set amount of TXTs, calling minutes and mobile data.

• $49 Travel SIM - 5GB of data, 30 minutes and 300 TXTsvalid for 15 days

• $69 Travel SIM - 10GB of data, 60 minutes and 600 TXTs - valid for 28 days

You can use your calling minutes to book local tours or

stay in touch with friends and family in selected countries, including New Zealand and Australia. If you run out of data, you can add more with a 1GB data bundle for $10.

Tip: Download the 'My Vodafone Cook Islands' app to add data bundles and monitor your balances and usage for TXTs, calls and data.

WiFi vouchers

It’s easy to get connected with Vodafone Hotspots located in a number of places including resorts, restaurants and cafes, bars, and shops.

WiFi Vouchers are easy to purchase and are available from Vodafone outlets and resellers nationwide. You can also buy WiFi vouchers online when

you’re at a Vodafone Hotspot, through Vodafone’s online Recharge website, or using the My Vodafone Cook Islands app. Tip: Don’t forget to logout of the WiFi Hotspot once you’re finished browsing to save WiFi data. Also, take a picture of your WiFi Voucher, just in case it gets misplaced.

WiFi Hotspots

Vodafone have hotspots all over the Cook Islands in popular places like the markets, cafés, holiday homes, our Vodafone stores and outlets and more.

You can find a nifty Google Map’s version of where Vodafone hotspots are located in Rarotonga and Aitutaki from their website Or, simply ask a local to point out the nearest Vodafone Hotspot.

Data in the Outer Islands

Vodafone have 4G+ mobile data in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, while other islands now have 4G mobile data available.

Vodafone Travel SIMs work in the outer islands and are great for keeping you connected.

Any handy tips


tricks for visitors to the Cook Islands?

vodafone Travel SIM Tips

• First tip is to make good use of the free TXTs and calling minutes to contact friends and family back home instead of relying on data operated apps (e.g., Messenger /WhatsApp/ Viber). Better yet, book all your tours and make reservations using your minutes while on holiday.

10 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Essentials
Vodafone offers a choice of two Travel SIMs (Image: Vodafone)

Need to know!

• Save Data by switching off all auto-updates, restrict background data downloads on your device. You can do this from your device settings or app store settings. Switch off your data if you're not using it. This also saves on battery life.

• Use Data for live updates or ‘in the moment’ posts via your social media channels. Upload your pics later using WiFi either from your hotel or from a nearby Vodafone hotspot.

• Download the My Vodafone Cook Islands app on arrival to monitor your data/mins/ txts usage.

• Need to upload your photos from your laptop or computer? Tethering or hotspotting is available for FREE on our Vodafone Travel SIMs, tether (or hotspot) data from your phone to your device and get those important captures up online in no time!

• Avoid using data when visiting areas that may have low data range/signal. Take

your photos and upload them later once you're in good range.

vodafone WiFi Hotspot Tips

• If you have access to a Vodafone Hotspot at your accommodation, then save on mobile data and upload your photos/videos using WiFi instead.

• Can't find your nearest Vodafone Hotspot? Visit and find Vodafone maps with hotspots located around Rarotonga and Aitutaki. There's sure to be one nearby.

• Don’t forget to logout of your WiFi after each browsing session at a hotspot to conserve your left-over data and make sure to check for expiry dates too.

• Out of range for mobile? Visit any of Rarotonga's cafes/restaurants with Vodafone Hotspots and enjoy comfort, good food and atmosphere, and a refreshing beverage. In the moment posts


New Zealand dollars. Cash from ATMs in Rarotonga & Aitutaki. Credit cards accepted in most tourist areas, except markets, smaller shops & businesses; so, carry some cash. Cook Islands issue their own banknotes & coinage (great souvenirs), but you can’t change this money outside the Cooks.


Use your home country car licence (a few exceptions). Renting a scooter requires a separate local licence. No test if a motorcycle class is already on your car licence, but there is a small fee. Otherwise, there is a practical riding test at the Police Station. Driving is on the left. Helmets are compulsory for scooters. Check your travel insurance for scooter rentals.

Personal Safety

Cook Islands is as safe a destination as you will find, but beware of petty theft, particularly from rental vehicles and beaches.

Activity safety

Cook Islands Tourism has placed two important safety messages in this publication. To be Water Safe see page 54. For Exploring and trekking advice see page 46.


Lots of insects in the Cooks! Mosquitoes and ants are the most annoying! Use window and door screens & repellent, especially at dawn and dusk. Cover food or store in the fridge.


Same as NZ & Australia. 220VAC 50Hz.

Sunday is closed!

Most businesses close, and Sunday becomes a family day and a day of worship. A church visit is welcomed, but services can be long, and mostly in Māori. Fascinating to watch worshippers arriving or departing Church in their Sunday finery.

Vodafone hotspots are plentiful (Image: Roman Odintsov) (Image: Cook Islands Sun)
‘Keep connected during your trip’
Image: David Kirkland

Tourism Cook Islands Tourism, the shape of things to come!

Since the pandemic ended and borders opened Cook Islands Tourism Corporation’s chief executive officer Karla Eggelton and her team have been focused on getting inbound travel back on track to something resembling the heyday of 2019; the year when visitor figures reached record numbers and the tourism industry was booming.

Karla said that 2022 was very much about readying the Cook Islands for a post-pandemic influx.

“That first year was mostly about airlines! I spent probably 75% of my time looking at airline opportunities. Looking at ways in which we could work with the airline crisis – the lack of planes and crew and being able to get the Cook Islands positioned as a destination an airline would fly to, said Karla.

“We turned the switch off in 2020, and we needed to turn the switch back on in 2022.”

Karla said that during the pandemic the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and the tourism industry talked about what the ‘new’ Cook Islands might look like when visitors returned.

“In the first year, business was predominantly from New Zealand with sprinklings of Australians, Europeans and Americans finding their way here during that time. Air New Zealand flights from Auckland were the only flights to the Cook Islands until Air Rarotonga started flying to Tahiti in August 2022.

“In May 2023 we welcomed a weekly flight from Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines, and in June Jetstar began flying three times a week from Sydney.”

Both Hawaiian Airlines and Jetstar are flying to Rarotonga with Airbus 321 neo aircraft. Air New Zealand services its AucklandRarotonga route mostly with 787-9 Dreamliners.

In June 2023, Air Tahiti resumed two flights a week between Papeete, Tahiti and Rarotonga using ATR72-600 and ATR42600 aircraft.

Karla said the New Zealand market is the most significant contributor to inbound

business from April through to November.

“The new flights from Australia Hawaii and Tahiti will provide the opportunity to develop high yielding, longer staying, bigger spending customers who may travel to the Cook Islands during the summer months December though to March.

“The private sector is really keen to see this diversity take shape,” said Karla.

“The private sector is working to get back on track too. They've had real challenges around labor shortage and supply. They have been fantastic under the circumstances.”

Karla is optimistic that the 2023 calendar year will deliver around 130,000 visitors, which is around 20% less than 2019.

“The prediction for 2023 is not attributable to our desirability as a destination, but purely due to lack of access to more aircraft!

“2024 is a difficult to forecast, but we’ll continue to seek to

Karla Eggelton Karla greets inaugural Jetstar flight from Sydney (Image: Cook Islands Tourism) (Image: Cook Islands Sun)

increased seat capacity and focus on tourism development.”

In October 2022, Cook Islands Tourism launched a new tourism development strategy.

“We’re focussing on the opportunities around regenerative travel, aimed at visitors wanting to travel to destinations, not just for a holiday, but to give back, to have experiences that are meaningful and that can help ‘build back better’ the destination they are visiting.”

According to Karla, there has been a global ground swell of these types of visitors actively looking for these destinations.

“While regenerative tourism is not going to take over our entire promotions, it's a new pillar of opportunity.

“For example, Kōrero o te 'Ōrau, a non-governmental organisation, with community support and dive businesses go to the lagoons collecting Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) that are eating our reefs.”

Ministry of Marine Resources in the scoping, removal or culling of COTS.

“There are people in this world who want to have that experience but have not been given that opportunity in the Cook Islands. We want to take these wonderful programs that are feeding into keeping our environment pristine, and have our visitors experience that!

“That's an example of regenerative tourism,” said Karla.

“The key in all of this is where the planes are flying from, and what kind of visitors arrive with those planes.”

“We will research and work to the strengths of what Honolulu, Sydney and Papeete, as hubs, are able to offer us in the way of connections for visitors from other markets in the USA, Australia and Europe.”

We asked Karla if the Cook Islands will ever return to the ‘good old days’ of 2019.

COTS are natural reef inhabitants and reef predators, locally known as taramea. When COTS numbers stay within sustainable limits, they have a role to keep coral reefs healthy. Problem is when they reproduce too fast. Recently higher than usual COTS numbers have appeared on Rarotonga’s reefs.

“Visitors may have the opportunity to help alongside Kōrero o te 'Ōrau and the

Another example of this type of experience for visitors cited by Karla may involve the Cook Islands SPCA Animal Shelter.

“Visitors taking dogs for a walk and helping to feed and care for the animals. This is another example of an NGO doing great work for our community but needing help. We’d like to make this experience available to visitors.”

Karla said that Cook Islands Tourism wants to encourage the creation of several ‘regenerative’ experiences for visitors.

What other factors will affect the future of tourism to the Cook Islands?

“The game changer for us is it's not going to be the destination so much, as it’s going to be access!

“The reality is that Cook Islands is sitting at a crossroads right now, and we are going to have to choose our destiny. The idea of going back to 2019, the good old days, will need to be tested. That's why our tourism development strategy is important for our next guiding steps, and that we're not just chasing the numbers.

“Not to be misunderstood, Cook Islands Tourism has a responsibility. There are currently 3,500 rooms in our country that have been built, or that have been invested in, by the private sector. Good money has been put into this tourism infrastructure, and we have a responsibility to fill those rooms. Should we grow beyond 2019 visitor numbers? Well, that's debatable right now.

“The focus for Cook Islands Tourism is making sure that private sector businesses who invested time and money into the industry get the return they deserve.”

“We’ll continue to seek to increased seat capacity and focus on tourism development.”
Crown-of-thorns starfish (Image: Francisco Davids) SPCA care for many Rarotonga dogs (Image: Cook Islands Sun)

Island Life Supporting tamariki in education, culture and sport

The Cook Islands Trading Corporation, better known locally as CITC, is proud of its roots and its commitment to the future of the Cook Islands and its communities, especially the tamariki (youth).

Fittingly, CITC enthusiastically supports many of Cook Islands’ most prominent and worthy cultural, artistic, environmental and educational events and programs involving the young.

An example: in 2023 CITC signed a three-year sponsorship for the Tangi Kaara drumming competition, dubbed the ‘CITC Pump the Beats.’ CITC is keen to support the competition for junior and intermediate drummers in schools to ensure that the traditional style of Cook Islands drumming continues with future generations.

CITC’s Key Brands Manager, George George, who was instrumental in the sponsorship and promoting the event to primary

and secondary schools in Rarotonga, said:

“The future of the Cook Islands is within our kids. If we as a company can nurture and invest in our tamariki it is going to be a huge gain for our country in the long run.”

In partnership with the Ministry of Cultural Development ‘CITC Pump the Beats’ was successfully staged at the National Auditorium in Avarua in June 2023.

Also, in Rarotonga the CITC Prince of Wales Primary Schools Athletics

Championships have been supported by the company for many years. This premier sporting event in the Rarotonga Primary Schools sports calendar involves over 600 students

and hundreds of staff, officials, volunteers and spectators. Amongst the events VIPs are traditional leaders, Members of Parliament, the Prime Minister Mark Brown, and the King’s Representative, Sir Tom Marsters.

The Tamariki Fishing Competition is an interesting concept event sponsored by CITC with the aim of promoting and teaching sustainable living to the younger generation of Cook Islanders by learning the traditional way of fishing with a bamboo rod. The fishing competition is open to the ages of five to 14 years, and the event hosted by the Cook Islands Game Fishing Club.

The CITC support for tamariki goes beyond Rarotonga. In a 5-year agreement, CITC and some of its key suppliers provide prizes for the end of year prize giving awards for eight schools in the Northern Group of the Cook Islands. The number of students in these

Young Drummer Signing up for ‘CITC Pump the Beats.’ L-R, Ngarangi Tangaroa-Teio, Anthony Turua – Ministry of Culture, Gaye Whitta - CITC general manager, Dianna Clarke BatesCITC executive director. CITC key brands manager George George standing. (Image: Cook Islands Sun) (Image: Courtesy Cook Islands News, Melina Etches)

schools range from under 10 to over 150 students, totalling 350 out of a population of 1100.

For older students, CITC sponsor the annual prize giving ceremony at Tereora College in Rarotonga, including Dux and Building & Construction Awards. As the country’s biggest employer outside of

government, getting involved in youth, cultural and environmental activities come naturally to CITC.

Cook Islands is a sporting nation and CITC enjoys a commitment to supporting sport including badminton, netball, rugby sevens and the paddling event Vaka Eiva.

On the cultural and environmental side CITC is involved with Miss Cook Islands, Clean-up the World program, Recycle Raro, the creative arts, Rakei Manava, and Cook Islands’ national cultural festival, Te Maeva Nui.

Te Maeva Nui is Cook Islands’ biggest cultural event celebrating independence

and involving all the country’s fifteen islands.

CITC general manager Gaye Whitta said: “Culture helps define who we are and links us to our heritage. Supporting culture in all its different forms - through arts, dance, music, education and voyaging - helps us build on the foundation passed down from our ancestors and provides guidance to our future generations”.

Tamariki Fishing Competition Apii Avarua students receive the overall CITC Prince of Wales Championship title from the King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters. (Image: Courtesy Cook Islands News)
FOODLAND AVARUA DUTY FREE SUPERMARKET PHARMACY LIQUOR BUILDING DEPARTMENT STORE LEADING THE WAY | +682 22 000 Bringing you the brands you know and trust . . . Stores on Rarotonga 12 Department Store Surf Store Convenience Stores Service Stations Supermarkets Liquor Store Pharmacy Duty Free Shops Building Supplies
(Image: Courtesy Cook Islands News, Caleb Fotheringham)

Meet Cook Islands Prime Minister & Minister for Tourism, Mark Brown.

Mark Brown was elected Prime Minister of the Cook Islands in October 2020 following the retirement of Henry Puna; he had been Deputy Prime Minister since 2018.

Amongst his portfolios Mark Brown is the Minister for Tourism.

One of the first actions taken by Brown as PM was establishing a travel bubble in 2021, in association with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, that enabled two-way quarantine-free travel between the two countries: the envy of many countries around the world at the time.

In the 2022 election Mark Brown was re-elected and reappointed Prime Minister.

Brown was born in Avarua in 1963 and educated in the Cook Islands and New Zealand, he holds a Master Business Administration and a Diploma in Public Sector Management.

Mark Brown turned sixty on the 28 February 2023. In person he looks younger.

A few days before his birthday, Brown was appointed Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum at the Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders Retreat held in Fiji on

24 February 2023, taking over the role from outgoing PIF Chair, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Sitiveni Rabuka.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) comprises 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The Government of the Cook Islands will host the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Rarotonga from 6 –10 November 2023 with the topic: “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper.”

Brown said that as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum he is representing all the Pacific Island countries.

“A common theme is economic

recovery and economic growth. Getting back to the prosperity levels that we had just prior to COVID in 2020.”

With Mark Brown’s presence as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Cook Islands also enjoys elevated exposure at the global level.

Following a summit between the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the USA in October 2022, Brown was particularly pleased with one outcome.

“The US will take steps to recognise the Cook Islands as an independent sovereign country. Forming formal diplomatic relations with a country like the USA is going to be a huge step for us.

“It will enable us to deal directly with the largest economy in the world.”

In March, Mark Brown visited Washington and met with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to discuss the bilateral relationship between the United States and Cook Islands, as well as Cook Islands’ role as the PIF chair.

16 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Interview
(Image: Cook Islands Sun) Prime Minister Mark Brown (Image: Mangaia –Cook Islands Tourism)

Back home Prime Minister Brown, is working on the economic recovery of the Cook Islands. Brown said there are significant challenges for the Cook Islands tourism industry and tourism-related industries, post pandemic. A major part of the recovery has been encouraging airlines to reinstate services to Rarotonga and enticing new airlines to fly to the Cook Islands.

Air New Zealand were unable to immediately reinstate the number of flights they operated pre-pandemic, but as of 1 July 2023 they operate 9 flights a week from Auckland with plans to increase capacity. Jetstar operate 3 flights a week from Auckland, and three flights a week from Sydney.

Additionally, as of 1 July 2023, Hawaiian Airlines fly once a week from Honolulu, Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti fly from Papeete once and twice a week, respectively.

Cook Islands depends on tourism to keep the economy engine running.

“For us, being so reliant on Air New Zealand exposed our vulnerability. It was important then to negotiate additional capacity into the country with other airlines. We are certainly open to any airlines that want to come in.”

Brown said that Cook Islands depends on tourism to keep the economy engine running.

“Close to 70% of our GDP is generated by tourism directly,” said Brown.

“Right now, tourism operators need visitor numbers!”

One problem the Cook Islands tourism industry has faced for years, especially post pandemic, is that many local workers move to New Zealand and Australia looking for higher paid work.

Brown acknowledges it is a challenge to reverse the local population exodus.

There are concerns that the replacement of emigrating locals with workers from overseas will disturb the Cook Islands brand.

“I don't think it affects it too much. This is the nature of the global economy that we live in today. Cook Islanders can go to New Zealand and Australia and earn a better hourly rate. That gap is met by Filipinos or Fijians who, in their country, are earning only a few dollars an hour. And coming into to the Cook Islands, earn the minimum wage or more, which is many

times what they earn in their country,” said Brown.

“It's the nature of the world we live in; labor is much more mobile. It is something that we just have to accept and work with.”

Business ownership stays, in the main, with Cook Islanders, especially businesses involving land ownership.

“It is one of the unique features of our country - the land tenure system, where foreigners can't buy or sell land, only lease it. Land, inevitably, stays in the hands of Cook Islanders.”

Despite the increase of much needed foreign labour, the Cook Islands tourism industry is predominantly led by Cook Islanders or permanent residents.

“Our people are our greatest asset!”

Is the Government encouraging overseas Cook Islanders to return and work?

“It's still an opportunity, but we have to realise Cook Islanders carry New Zealand passports. An increasing number now carry Australian passports. So, the workplace for a Cook Islander is not just the Cook Islands,” said Brown.

“Our job is to try and match the work conditions and the market rates that these countries offer," said Brown.

“The only way to afford this is to grow the economy.”

To help turn around the population decline Mark Brown is exploring the opportunity to develop a new industry for the Cook Islands, known as seabed mining.

Pacific Islands Forum Chair handover, Fiji PM Sitiveni Rabuka & Cook Islands PM Mark Brown PM Brown goes to Washington. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken & Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman meet with Mark Brown in March 2023. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain)
(continued overleaf)
(Image: Pacific News Service)

“We've got one of the biggest mineral deposits in the world, in our jurisdiction,” said Brown.

“The COVID closure really reinforced for us the need to diversify. I'm excited about the prospect of our minerals industry becoming a key part of our country, moving forward.

“I see ourselves as pioneers in this field. I would like to see the Cook Islands as a centre of excellence on the understanding of the deep ocean. And that, for me, is going to be the single most important key if we want to progress towards harvesting the minerals in a way that ensures we protect the ocean”.

Brown emphasised: “There is no mineral mining taking place right now. It's a cautious journey of discovery to get the knowledge and understanding to enable us then to make the next steps of, ‘Do we?" There is no doubt that Mark Brown is the ‘real deal’ when it comes to his love of his country and its people. He is dynamic and curious to examine economic possibilities for the future of the Cook Islands. He is a proud Cook Islander through and through.

“My grandfather came from Mangaia. The original Brown, he was Scottish, he settled in Mangaia, and had 15 children. Number three was my grandfather. So, my grandfather is half Mangaian, half Scottish. My grandmother, who he met here on Rarotonga, has links to Aitutaki, Manihiki and Rarotonga. I consider myself a Rarotongan”.

Mark Brown is married to Daphne, and they have two children, a daughter 24, and a son 18, and more recently, a granddaughter.

Despite his busy life in politics and at home, Mark Brown values his time to relax.

“I have a group of mates that I can freely interact with, let my hair down, and not worry too much about public exposure. So, it's great to be able to relax in an environment like that,” said Brown.

Mark Brown enjoys his sport, especially Rugby League and Rugby Union. He played local sport competitively as recently as last year, and has represented Cook Islands at the Pacific Games in touch rugby.

“I still play League; just a little run around to keep active.”

In 2000 Brown was manager of the Cook Islands Rugby Sevens team.

“George George was the coach, and we took our first team to Wellington for the Wellington Sevens. We played New Zealand. They had in their team Jonah Lomu and a couple of All Black stars.

“We were leading at halftime, but they came back and just beat us. That was the start of a great tour. From there to Fiji, and then to Australia.”

Mark Brown has served his country well in many ways, initially as a public servant and policy advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, then head of the Ministry of Agriculture and other portfolios, as a Member of Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister, and now Prime Minister. As Prime Minister how does Mark Brown want to be remembered?

“Basically, being seen as somebody who does the right thing; being regarded as an approachable sort of person who gets on well with most people. Somebody who is not afraid to make a stand on what we represent.”

18 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Interview
(continued from Page 17)
Somebody who is not afraid to make a stand on what we represent.
15 ATMs 2 Branches
Online Banking COOK
502 EFTPoS

Te Ipukarea Society’s work is never ending but vital to Cook Islands’ ecosystems

Alanna Matamaru Smith is Director of Te Ipukarea Society (TIS), an environmental NGO in the Cook Islands. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management from Otago university New Zealand, and a Masters in Conservation Biology from victoria university, New Zealand.

In 2017 Alanna was crowned Miss World Cook Islands. With this international platform Alanna was able to highlight her work in the Cook Islands on biodiversity conservation and environmental issues.

Alanna is a keen sportswoman with a great love of water and land sport. She has represented the Cook Islands in netball and beach volleyball and plays basketball.

Through the Te Ipukarea Society

Alanna has worked on countless conservation projects, but with increasing commercial interests in polymetallic nodules within Cook Islands waters, seabed

mining has become a topic of looming interest and concern to Alanna.

“I attended the International Seabed Authority meeting in

Jamaica this year,” said Alanna. “Much more time is needed for research before a decision to mine is made.”

The TIS is funded through grants, sponsorships and donations.

“As we are independently funded, we are able to act as watchdogs over government and call them out on topical environmental issues,” said Alanna.

Alanna points out that TIS cooperates with the government on the implementation of assorted projects.

19 2023-2024 Environment
Alanna plays netball for Titikaveka Alanna Matamaru Smith (Image: Cook Islands News)
Opposite the Airport Phone: 22326 “Best deals on the Island”
(Image: Cook Islands Sun)

“Funding it is a struggle but luckily we have dedicated corporate members.”

TIS offers Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorships. Gold sponsors include CITC and Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Silver includes Koka Lagoon Cruises and Sands Villas, and Bronze includes The Café and Manuia Beach Resort amongst numerous others recognised on

“For visitors, the TIS have donation boxes in some local stores, and we have a donation box in the departure lounge at the airport.”

Alanna has recently taken over as director of the Te Ipukarea Society. We asked if she was going to be a ‘steady as you go’ type of director.

“I think my character will bring change to the position. I am youthful, I have connections with people that are my age group and I have a good idea of the different ways to engage with community members. I also have social media and video documentary skills.”

So, what are the most critical environmental challenges facing the TIS and the Cook Islands in the coming years?

“Definitely waste management is our biggest challenge. We have limited infrastructure to deal with our waste,” said Alanna.

“There are no facilities to recycle plastic waste in the Cook Islands, so all plastic waste generated here, for example a single use plastic water bottle, ends up in our landfill. Simple things like using a reusable water bottle reduce plastic entering our landfill.”

Te Ipukarea Society was formed to help look after the Ipukarea, translated as ‘our heritage’, and as such is involved with many environmental and conservations programs

“I'm looking forward to going to Palmerston this year being a part of the rat eradication project. It's a collaborative effort including the Palmerston Island Administration, Cook Islands National Environment Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Te Ipukarea Society.”

The invasive ship rat and Norwegian rat, introduced to the islands by trading vessels in days gone by have led to the near extinction of some bird species.

Last year TIS chartered the vaka Marumaru Atua to the island of Suwarrow for the purpose of eradicating the kiore Pacific rats on the atoll.

working with individuals, community organisations, private sector, and government.

“Coastal protection is one area where we are currently piloting the option of using geotextile sandbags and planting native trees as a form of coastal protection,” said Alanna, who believes coastal degradation is attributable to climate change.

“Climate change is a real thing. We are noticing new events, like how we had large waves come in last year that brought on all the sand onto our roads. These events are only going to intensify in years to come.”

The TIS is involved in a truly diverse mixture of programs.

Te Ipukarea Society’s work is never ending but vital to Cook Islands’ ecosystems.

“Any eco-conscious tourist is welcome to swing by our office and buy a reusable water bottle. We’re located on the main road at Tupapa next to Rarotonga Printing. We’re open from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday”.

Alanna sailed to the northern group island of Suwarrow in 2022 on the Vaka Murumuru Atua Vaka Murumuru Atua moored at Suwarrow Refill TIS thermal bottles ($40) for free at UV treated water stations around Rarotonga.
The TIS is publicly funded through grants and sponsorship
Te Ipukarea Society)
(Image: Te Ipukarea Society)

A turtle tour is one of the most popular visitor activities in Rarotonga, and for good reason! Here are some tips to keep you, the turtles and our ocean home safe.

What to Expect

Tours typically last around two hours and are led by experienced guides who will take you to the best spots for turtle sightings. You will have the opportunity to snorkel in crystal-clear waters, where you may also see a variety of other marine life, including majestic rays, colorful fish and beautiful coral reefs. Our guides are knowledgeable about the local ecosystem and will provide fascinating insights into the turtles’ behavior and habitat.

Top Tips

Respect the turtles: Touching turtles IS PROHIBITED. Turtles are wild animals. It is important to approach them with respect and caution, and to maintain a safe distance to avoid disturbing them and their natural habitat. Experience: Prior swimming experience is suggested, but professional guides will be present during the tour to offer assistance. Children under 12 years of age must receive approval from the tour operator. If you are not comfortable with the conditions, it is recommended that you conduct your own risk assessment.

Be responsible: Visitors are strongly advised not to swim in the passage without the presence of a trained and reliable operator or an experienced guide. Any passage or channel can be highly unpredictable, and the conditions can shift rapidly, making them dangerous.

How to choose a Tour operator

It is important to choose an operator that strives to provide both best-practice customer safety and responsible eco-tourism practices.

• Customer Safety

Max Guide/Visitor ratio does not exceed 4:1, tours operate only during weekday low tides, safety briefing is conducted and acknowledgement of risk form completed by all guests

• Eco-tourism practices

Operators demonstrate their dedication to preserving the turtle habitat. To ensure that the marine environment remains intact, it is essential to show respect and refrain from touching coral

What to do if concerned

Any concerns or issues, please speak to your guide and/or tour operator in the first instance

If needed, Cook Islands Tourism can also provide assistance. Please email

Turtle Tours in Rarotonga FOR EMERGENCIES CALL 999

21 VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024

there’s a whole lot of shakin going on!

Every tropical destination has its share of characters, and in Rarotonga Paul Lynch (u’anga Tauei Napa), aka Paul Napa, must be included amongst them!

Lawyer, entrepreneur, tourism operator, hot chilli sauce creator and Elvis impersonator.

“I had a law firm here for 30 years, then I worked for the government up to 2022,” said Paul.

Paul is also known as the ‘Elvis of the Cook islands.’

“I do a full on Elvis show with a live band. For my 60th next year, I plan to go to Graceland and enter an Elvis tribute artist competition, just for fun!”

Paul and his wife Shona own Cook Islands Holiday Villas. When the pandemic struck in 2020, the borders closed and there was no tourism: “That’s

when I began to think about the ‘hot sauce’ business.”

Enter Paul’s Rarotonga Hot Sauce.

“During the pandemic the government gave out seedlings for locals to become more sustainable with vegetables and crops. We turned our accommodation staff into growers. I had about 18 different crops in, but these chilli plants grew, they were a beautiful habanero. The habanero is a hot variety of chilli, so I started developing my first hot sauce, mango flavoured; it just took off!” said Paul.

Paul’s Rarotonga Hot Sauce is now an award-winning brand after a two of his flavours landed placings in the Mr Chilli Hot Sauce Awards 2023 held in Australia. The Cook Islands

22 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2022-2023 Markets
Paul’s stall at the Market Paul spruiking at Punanga Nui Market (Image: Cook Islands Sun) (Image: Cook Islands Sun)

product was up against 50 sauces from New Zealand and Australia.

A great souvenir to take home

If you want to taste the two winning flavours go to Punanga Nui Market on Saturday morning and ask Paul for ‘Shrekalicious’ and ‘Raro Lava’. Paul has created 8 flavours so far, with more to come.

“Separately from Punanga Nui Market, Paul’s Rarotonga Hot Sauce is in Prime Foods, Wigmores, and some cafes, and I'm about to have an Auckland distributor.

“Every hot sauce has its own fruit flavour depending on what's in season. We use local fruits including mango, coconut, banana, and pineapple. We cook it fresh, bottle it and sell it for $10 a bottle. The ‘super-hot’ is $15 a

bottle. Kiwis And Aussies just love super-hot, hot sauce.”

Paul gave out his trade secret when he revealed that he had developed the recipes from a chutney recipe in Edmonds Cookery Book.

“Then I just improvised with more vinegar, less vinegar, more fruit, less fruit, more chillies etc. I grow all the chillies: habaneros, and green chillies, through to scorpion and ghost chillies. Now I’m growing Carolina Reapers.

“I love introducing hot sauces to our visitors and the locals; it's a great way to enhance your food.

“The majority of my buyers are visitors, around 90%. A bottle of Paul’s Rarotonga Hot Sauce is a great souvenir to take home”.

A range of Paul’s Rarotonga Hot Sauces Paul being interviewed on Cook Islands Television about his awards (Image: supplied) (Image: Cook Islands Sun)

Punanga Nui Market,

the pulse of Rarotonga

Located near the waterfront next to Avarua, the Punanga Nui Market is a 'must do' for locals and visitors on a Saturday morning. Fresh fruit, veggies and fish, island food, coffee, pastries, smoothies, live and recorded island music, handmade ukuleles, clothing, handicrafts, black pearls, jewellery, massage, art works, second-hand books, handmade recycled gifts, souvenirs and tivaevae. Saturday morning is the biggest market day. Opens 8.00am–12.00pm.

Images: Cook Islands Sun

Kikau Hut, an island gem!

Kikau Hut Restaurant in Arorangi is owned by husband/ wife Rebecca Churchill and Gordon Brown and operated by their local staff. Both are now somewhat fly in, fly out from NZ particularly since the pandemic. Rebecca is an accountant, with a consultancy and marketing company, Gordon is a civil engineer.

Born in England and brought up there and in South Africa, Gordon eventually settled in New Zealand where he has worked in building construction and roads. Before settling in NZ Gordon had a stint in the US working in soccer coaching; he had been a semi-professional in the UK.

In the aftermath of COVID Gordon spends his time between Auckland and Rarotonga. In Auckland he manages a multi million dollar long term construction contract for a Joint Venture company: "I can then escape to the idyllic Cooks to see how the staff at Kikau Hut are managing," said Gordon.

Not a bad choice of career! His dream was always to own a restaurant in the Cook Islands.

“We didn't come here just to own a restaurant. We wanted to develop our restaurant people as well,” said Gordon.

“There are times when we leave them for long periods, and they run the business. As I say to

What is Raro Pass?

It’s new and it’s unique on Rarotonga. Chantal of former Chantal’s Concierge fame has created a digital pass that lives on your phone, that can save purchasers money

on various dining, shopping, and other services around Rarotonga. Purchase from $10 for 7days, with longer options available. After purchasing Raro Pass online, you download it to your

them, this restaurant isn't about me and Rebecca, it is about you. What the people see is you!”.

We asked Gordon what he enjoys most outside the civil engineering/development business and Kikau Restaurant.

“I love all sport! In particular I love football, horse racing and tennis - playing not watching.” said Gordon.

“And I love the theatre and cinema.”

Gordon said he also loved Kikau Hut Restaurant and it's staff.

“Our menu reflects the expected Pacific rim infusion, but we recognise that visitors also have an expectation of what they might eat back home.”

A Trip Advisor reviewer in July wrote: We just had a lovely family meal at the Kikau Hut. This place is a firm favourite every time we visit the island. Amazing fresh tuna sashimi and their signature Ika Mata to start, followed by superb mains for all of us. The service is always perfect and the dessert tasting platter is not to be missed.

There is nothing left for Gordon to say!

phone's digital wallet (Google or Apple). Then simply show Raro Pass to a participating business. If you don't have the Wallet, you can download one for iPhone or Android. The Raro Pass is activated once purchased. For more Raro Pass information visit, FB or IG.

25 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Island Life
Kikau Hut's business manager Louisa, Gordon, and Lena, the maître d. (Image: Cook islands Sun)

Island Show

Rarotonga’s one and only over-water island night show spectacular

A reviewer recently posted on the Te vara Nui village FB page: “Amazing entertainment, costumes and food, thanks for a great night.”

That says it all for one of the most popular and impressive cultural shows in the South Pacific, and it pays testament to Te Vara Nui’s ‘People’s Choice Award’ given in recent years at the biennial Air New Zealand Cook Islands Tourism Awards. Te Vara Nui is also a past winner of the prestigious Supreme Award.

Described as ‘world-class’ Rarotonga’s brightest dancers and drummers perform ‘The Legend of Tongaiti’ by flaming torchlight on floating and fixed stages of the Te Vara Nui waterfall garden. It’s a story about a warrior called Tongaiti and his family in search of new land to call home.

Before the show, enjoy Te Vara Nui’s island western fusion buffet dinner in attractive surroundings.

Located in the heart of the Muri, a night out at Te Vara Nui’s Spectacular Over Water Night Show and Buffet Dinner is an authentic Cook Islands cultural experience.

Happens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 7.30pm. Call 24 006. FB Te Vara Nui Village & Weddings.

Main stage at spectacular Te Vara Nui
(Image: supplied)
The western fusion buffet dinner

Eating & Drinking In Rarotonga

The List

Here is a comprehensive list of eating, drinking and entertainment outlets in Rarotonga. * Denotes places that are featured in following ‘Eat & Drink’ section of this guide.

Island Night & Cultural Dance Show

Every Tuesday and Saturday Dinner 7pm Cultural Show 8:30pm Location - Arorangi phone: 25435

Discover Paradise

Indulge, relax and enjoy authentic Italian cuisine

Air conditioned, friendly and relaxed ambience

27 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 BARS Barefoot Bar* Pacific Resort ................................. 21 003 Captain Andy’s Beach Bar* Rarotonga Resort ......................... 25 800 Club Bar at Club Raro* Tupapa .............................................. 22 415 Hula Bar Islander Hotel ................................ 21 003 Luna Bar Avarua .............................................. 51 558 Mal’s Bar* Edgewater Hotel 25 435 Margaritas Bistro & Bar Avarua 29 924 Ocean’s Bar* Crown Beach Resort 23 953 OTR – On the Rocks Avarua 25 077 Outrigger Beach Bar* The Waterline Restaurant 22 161 Rehab Nightclub Avarua 55 517 Roadhouse Bar & Grill Arorangi 23 322 Sand Bar at Club Raro* Tupapa 22 415 Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar* Aroa.................................................. 22 166 Sunset Bar at OTB Arorangi 22 482 Trader Jacks* Avarua 26 464 Trio’s Garden Bar Avarua 20 400 Ukulele Bar, Tamarind House Pue 26 487 Vaiana’s Bistro & Bar Nikao 24 526 Wilson’s Beach Bar* Castaway Resort............................ 21 546 BREWERIES Rarotonga Brewery* Nikao 26 657 CAFÉS Are Kai – Aroa Café Airport 21 723 Beluga Arorangi 27 788 Bite Time Café Punanga Nui Market 23 577 Body Fuel Café Punanga Nui Market 23 575 Bus Stop Café Cooks Corner 21 567 Café Ariki Avarua Back Road 22 772 Café Jireh Opp. Airport.................................... 24 776 Charlie’s* Titikaveka 28 055 Cook Islands Coffee Company Matavera ........................................ 50 646 Deli-Licious Café Muri 20 858 Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre & Café* Arorangi .......................................... 23 344 Flying Turtle Café* Arorangi 87 961 La Casita Café Muri ................................................. 20 693 LBV Le Bon Vivant Muri 28 619 Love Café Matevera .......................................... 75 139 Maire Nui Gardens & Café* Titikaveka 88 788 Margaritas Bistro & Bar* Avarua 29 924 Mai’i Café & Bar Muri 25 390 Micheles Café Punanga Nui Market 28 889 RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie Muri Beach 50 021 Soul Café Tupapa 27 070 The Café* Beachcomber, Avarua 21 283 The Lazy Trout Avarua 22 025 The Lucky Rooster Eatery* Avarua 22 215 The Mooring Fish Café Opp. Night Market Muri 54 795 The Plaza Café Avarua 24 730 The Rickshaw Café Muri .................................................. 22 232 The Village Eatery Vaimaanga ...................................... 27 183 The Waffle Shack Punanga Nui Market...................... 50 713 Tuakata Café Avarua .............................................. 50 713 CLUBS (Visitors welcome) Rarotonga Bowling Club Avarua 26 277 Cook Islands Game Fishing Club KiiKii 21 419 Rarotonga Golf Club Black Rock 20 621 RSA (Return Servicemen Association) Nikao 20 590 Rarotonga Sailing Club Muri Beach ...................................... 27 349 ISLAND NIGHT SHOWS Crown Beach Resort Arorangi 23 953 Edgewater Resort Arorangi 25 435 Highland Paradise Maungaroa 21 924 Te Vara Nui Village Muri 24 006 The Islander Hotel Nikao 21 003
nights from
Location - Arorangi phone: 25441
5pm to 9:30pm

87 608

28 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Tumutoa
LIQUOR STORES Bond Liquor Store* Avarua
CITC Liquor Avarua
Night Market Muri
NIGHTLIFE TOURS Going Troppo Nightlife Tour Rarotonga 25
Progressive Dinner Tour Local homes 20 639 Rehab’s Raro Pub Crawl Rarotonga ...................................... 29 700 Sunset Cocktail (by Tuk Tuk) Rarotonga 28
RESTAURANTS Alberto’s Restaurant* Arorangi
Antipodes Restaurant Black Rock
Bluewater Grill & Bar Sanctuary Rarotonga
Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill* Rarotonga Resort
Islander Restaurant & Bar The Islander Hotel .........................
Jalapeños Restaurant* Club Raro 22
Kikau Hut Restaurant* Arorangi ......................................... 26 860 Laguna on the Beach Muri
Little Polynesian Restaurant* Titikaveka........................................
Moana Restaurant & Bar Titikaveka
Nautilus Restaurant Muri
Oceans Restaurant & Bar* Crown Beach
On the Beach Restaurant & Bar* Manuia Beach Resort 22 482 Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar* Pacific Resort ................................. 20
Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar* Muri Beach Club Hotel 23 000 Spaghetti House Pizzeria & Grill* Edgewater Resort 25 441 Tamarind House Restaurant Tupapa 26 487 The Anchorage Restaurant & Bar Arorangi 23 004 The Waterline Restaurant & Outrigger Bar* Arorangi 22 161 The Yellow Hibiscus at Palm Grove* Vaimaanga 20 002 Tumunu Restaurant & Bar Arorangi 20 501 Tuoro Tapas Bar Black Rock 21 233 Vaima on the Beach* Vaimaanga ...................................... 26 123 Wilson’s Restaurant & Beach Bar* Castaway Resort............................ 21 546 TAKEAWAYS Alberto’s Restaurant* Arorangi 23 597 Chicken Magic O’oa 26 209 Kai & Co Punanga Nui Market 87 479 Kai Pizza* Avarua 23 336 KAPS Matevera 27 747 Kavera Central Kavera 27 962 Mae-Jo's Cafe Takeaway Avarua 26 621 Mama T's Takeaway Arorangi 25 733 Oasis (24/7) Nikao 27 145 Palace One Takeaways Avatiu Harbour 21 438 Rima's Hot Bread Café & Takeaway Ruatonga 24 270 Sea Salt Takeaway Avatiu Harbour 23 956 The Pacific Fish & Chip Shop Arorangi 78 261 Vili’s Burger Joint Matavera 28 850 Vili’s Golden Wok Matavera ......................................... 22 222 Wigmore’s Superstore Vaimaanga .................................... 20 206
Umu Kai & Fire Show
............................................. 27 883
21 007
28 380
EAT & DRINK Punanga Nui Market Avarua .............................. (Sat morning) Muri
(Sun, Tue, Wed, Thu)
23 597
76 918
25 900
25 800
21 003
29 926
24 280
26 189
25 125
Resort 23 953

Featured Eating & Drinking Places

Venue Details in Following Pages

Location Venue 1. The Lucky Rooster Eatery 2. Margaritas Bistro & Bar 3. Trader Jacks 4. The Café 5. Jalapenos Restaurant, Sand Bar & Club Bar 6. Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar 36 7. Sandal’s Restaurant & Barefoot Bar 36, 30 8. Charlie’s 33 9. Maire Nui Gardens & Café 33 10. Little Polynesian Restaurant 35 11. The Yellow Hibiscus Restaurant 36 12. Vaima on the Beach 37 13. Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill 30, 35 14. Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar 31 15. Lickity Splitz Ice Cream Parlour 33 16. Wilson’s Restaurant & Beach Bar 37, 31 17. The Waterline Restaurant & Outrigger Beach Bar 30, 36 18. OTB On the Beach Restaurant & Sunset Bar 36 19. Ocean’s Restaurant & Bar 30, 35 20. Flying Turtle Café 33 21. Spaghetti House Pizzeria & Grill 36 22. Mal’s Bar 30 23. Rarotonga Brewery 32 24. Alberto’s Restaurant 35 25. Kikau Hut Restaurant 35 26. Kai Pizza 33 27. Bond Liquor Store 32
27 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 23 24 25 22 21 26 ISLANDER HOTEL & SPA ROOMS RESTAURANT & BARS ISLAND NIGHT, AIRPORT TRANSIT LOUNGE, WIFI ALL DAY HAPPY HOUR | TEL 21003 |

Barefoot Bar at Pacific Resort Muri Beach

Experience the Barefoot Bar's lagoon views as you indulge in our renowned cocktails and mixed drinks. Don't miss the conch shell announcing Happy Hour at 4pm, or join us for the twilight Happy Hour at 8:30pm. Join our team for a memorable evening overlooking the famous Muri lagoon.

T: 20 427

Captain Andy’s Beach Bar

Enjoy a cool cocktail or beer, delicious meal and Rarotonga’s best sea and sunset views from the new lagoon deck at Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill @ The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium. All-Day Menu.

T: 25 800

Mal’s Bar at Edgewater Resort

Named after Mal Meninga, legendary rugby league player and old friend of the Resort, Mal’s Bar is open 10am to midnight. A nice place to be any time of day, or just waiting for the sunset. Enjoy the wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including a fine collection of international wines, local and imported beers and spirits, as well as a range of juices and exotic tropical cocktails.

T: 25 435


Ocean’s Bar at Crown Beach Resort

Enjoy a casual and stylish atmosphere undercover or on the beach at Ocean’s Restaurant at the Crown Beach Resort. It is a place where people come together to relax and unwind. Oceans Bar is open daily with a great offering of drinks and food, and happy hour from 4.00pm-6.00pm featuring $2.00 off all drinks!

T: 23 953


Outrigger Beach Bar at Waterfront Restaurant

The Outrigger Beach Bar is a wonderful new addition to the Waterline Restaurant in Arorangi on Rarotonga’s sunset coast. Perfect for a beachside cocktail and a romantic sunset lit dinner. Rustic and intimate, the new Outrigger Beach Bar offers a range of beers, wines & cocktails. Wine & dine with an ocean view. Open Tuesday to Sunday.

T: 22 161 or 53 167

FB: RarotongaWaterlineRestaurant

Sand Bar & Club Bar at Club Raro

Club Raro’s Club Bar in Tupapa is in the lobby of this adults-only resort, offering local & international beers, wines & spirits, and an extensive cocktail menu; open 11am to 9pm. The Sand Bar is perched on a raised deck overlooking the lagoon and Pacific Ocean; an ideal venue as a refreshment stop at the end of the day.

T: 22 415

7 19

Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar at Aro’a Beachside Inn

An authentic beach bar and restaurant located at Aro'a Beachside Resort offering a great menu with fresh local dishes. Enjoy the amazing sunset whilst sipping on a cocktail or cold beer. Open daily from 12pm. Live music

Tuesday – Sunday.

T: 22 166


Trader Jacks

Located on the waterfront at Avarua Harbour, Trader Jacks is a drinking ‘institution’ in the Cook Islands. Great place to enjoy water views and meet both locals and visitors. The restaurant overlooks the ocean, and specialises in seafood. The bar is a well-known ‘watering hole’ offering pizza. Opens 11.00am.

T: 26 464


Wilson’s Beach Bar at Castaway Resort

A bar right on the beach with your feet in the sand in Arorangi where you can watch the most stunning sunsets. We have a bar menu available from 6pm that includes yakitori skewers, snack food & budget friendly meals. Under cover and al fresco drinking & dining areas. Open 7 days a week.

Happy Hour daily.

T: 21 546


Creators Hype

Rarotonga Brewery

Experience the pure taste of Rarotonga Brewery's beer, crafted with three ingredients according to the German purity law. No additives or preservatives. Enjoy daily fresh brews delivered island-wide, found at resorts & restaurants. Visit our brewery in Arorangi for a complimentary sample, tours & merchandise.

Open Monday to Saturday, 10 am6 pm. Cheers!

T: 26 657

FB, IG, W:

Across the road from Edgewater Resort

Bond Liquor Store

The No.1 cellars in Rarotonga; check out our huge range. Over 600 wines, all popular spirits, liqueurs, beers, RTDs, mixers, ice etc. Open Monday to Thursday 9.00am-5.00pm; Friday and Saturday 9.00am-7.00pm. Located on the main road in Avarua, opposite the Punanga Nui Market.

T: 21 007


FB: The Bond Store


Image: Craig Owen
T O W E R - J U G - G L A S S - K E E P E R @ R A R O T O N G A B R E W E R Y + 6 8 2 2 6 6 5 7

Charlie’s Rarotonga

“Good vibes all over!” Located on Akapuao Beach in Titikaveka on the south-east of the island, Charlie’s offers a casual dining experience Monday to Friday 12pm-3pm, then 5.00pm-8.00pm; Saturday 12pm-3pm. Famous for their massive fresh fish sandwich. Live music. Beach access everywhere. Book for dinner.

T: 28 055


Flying Turtle Café

Located on the Main Road Arorangi, in-between Crown Beach Resort and Edgewater Resort, we offer a delicious menu made with fresh, local ingredients with a Polynesian and Asian flare. Vegan and Vegetarian options. Open Monday – Friday 7.00am - 3.00pm

T: 87 961


FB: Flying Turtle Café

Kai Pizza

‘Woodfired Pizzas – made with love.’

Dine in or takeaway in a relaxed atmosphere. Choose from 13 Woodfired Pizza flavours from $10 to $23 for dinner or enjoy a freshly made salad or wrap for lunch. Located opposite Punanga Nui Markets in Avarua. Lunch Mon –Fri 11am to 2pm; Dinner Mon – Sat 4pm to 9pm

T: 23 336 or 53 330

FB: Kai Pizza, Rarotonga

Lickity Splitz Ice Cream

Parlour at Discover Marine & Wildlife Centre

On main road Arorangi, Discover is a showcase of Cook Islands marine & wildlife with live exhibits, aquariums & artifacts. Lickity Splitz Ice Cream Parlour offers barista

Maire Nui Gardens & Café

Set in 7 acres of tropical gardens, Maire Nui Gardens & Cafe displays the diversity of Rarotonga’s flora and fauna. Enjoy a slice of our famous cheesecake or fresh organic salads loaded with organic greens from our gardens. Cafe

Open Monday-Friday. Gardens

Open 7 Days.


The Café

Located in the courtyard of the historic Beachcomber Pearl Market and Art Gallery in Avarua, The Café is known for its locally-roasted espresso coffee, homemade cakes, and all day menu featuring organic breads, bagels and croissants.

Home to the Rarotonga Vinyl Revival Club, relax and choose your own music from the extensive record collection. Open Monday –Friday 9am – 3pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm.

T: 21 283



Margaritas Bistro & Bar

Located on the main road in Avarua, near the Information Centre and next door to idCK, this casual Pacific-style café serves breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday 8am to 2pm. Delicious food, espresso coffee, cold beers, cocktails, wines and spirits. Nice little eatery and easy to find. Great place to watch the world go by!

T: 29 924

The Lucky Rooster Eatery

A bustling hotspot for locals, international travellers, business meetings & events. Top barista coffee, matcha & smoothies. Hosting a variety of dietary preferences with a selection of fresh, healthy, hearty & homemade cuisine. Breakfast, brunch, lunch. Inclusive & wheelchair friendly. Downtown Avarua, next to CITC Pharmacy. (V) (GF) (DF) (VGN) Mon-Fri 8.30 am-2.00pm; Sat 8.30 am-1.00pm

T: 22 215

E: @theluckyroostereatery #theluckyrooster

Image: Esra Afşar

Alberto’s Restaurant

Located between the Edgewater and Sunset resorts on the main road in Arorangi. Alberto’s is well known for their steak dishes but also offer seafood, chicken, pasta and a fresh salad bar. Small private functions catered for. Open Monday-Friday 5.30pm-8.00pm, including takeaways.

T: 23 597 or 55 725


Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill

Lagoon front Dining? Enjoy a cool cocktail or beer, delicious meal and Rarotonga’s best sea and sunset views from the new lagoon deck at Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill @ The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium. You can even feed the reef fish swimming just below! Check out our great All-Day Menu.

T: 25 800

Jalapeños Restaurant

Jalapeños a la carte restaurant offers alfresco dining on an expansive deck under the shade of coconut trees. Try Club Raro’s famous cocktails at the swim-up pool bar, the Sand Bar, overlooking the lagoon and Pacific Ocean, or in the lobby at the Club Bar open 7am to 9pm

Mon to Sun. Adults only. Happy Hours are from 11am to midday, and 4pm-6pm daily.

T: 22 415


Kikau Hut Restaurant

A fusion of European and Pacific flavours, the Kikau Hut, located in Arorangi, offers a top-rated friendly and casual dining experience. Open from 6pm seven days a week with live music on Mondays and a free transfer service available by prior arrangement.

T: 26 860


Fb: Kikau.Hut

Little Polynesian Restaurant

Immerse yourself in the ultimate dining experience at Rarotonga's top-rated beachfront restaurant. Indulge in a tantalizing blend of traditional Polynesian and modern European dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Explore our exquisite selection of cocktails, wine, and beer. Booking ahead is crucial, particularly for dinner.

T: 24 280

Oceans Restaurant & Bar Crown Beach Resort

Relaxed private dining on the waterfront with vistas of the beach, lagoon and sunsets, Oceans Restaurant & Bar offers all-day dining including breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Breakfast from 8.00am-10.30am, lunch from 11.30am - 2.30pm, and dinner from 6.30pm - 9.00pm. Happy hour is daily from 4.30pm - 6.30pm.

T: 23 953 •



OTB On the Beach Restaurant & Sunset Bar

Located on the beach at Manuia Beach Resort in Arorangi, OTB is literally right on the beach. The comfortable dining furniture set on the sandy floor sets the stage for a true Polynesian culinary experience. Enjoy a Sunset Bar cocktail. Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Visit the website to view the exquisite menus.

T: 22 482


Sandals Restaurant at Pacific Resort Muri Beach

Our menu offers a diverse range of traditional local and European dishes, including vegetarian options and a kid’s menu. Sandals Restaurant also serves a delightful selection of beers, wines and cocktails. Continuous meal service is available 7-days a week from 7am to 9pm. Bookings are essential especially for dinner.

T: 20 427

Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar

Located at the Muri Beach Club Hotel, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Silver Sands fuses traditional South Pacific cuisine with Western favourites. The menus feature fresh, local produce and a different theme each night. Lagoon Lounge is the perfect spot to kickstart the evening with a tropical cocktail.

T: 23 000




Spaghetti House Pizzeria & Grill

The Spaghetti House Pizzeria and Grill at The Edgewater Resort & Spa is conveniently located at the Resort’s entrance on the main road. Open seven nights from 5.00pm to 9.30pm, the air-conditioned Spaghetti House Pizzeria and Grill offers authentic Italian cuisine with a selection of pizzas, pastas and other signature Italian dishes.

T: 25 441

The Waterline Restaurant & Outrigger Beach Bar

Situated on Rarotonga’s sunset coast, Waterline Restaurant & Outrigger Beach Bar is perfect for an afternoon beachside cocktail or a romantic sunset lit dinner. Rustic & intimate, the new Outrigger Beach Bar offers a range of beers, wines & cocktails. Wine & dine with an ocean view. Open Tuesday to Sunday.

T: 22 161 or 53 167

FB: RarotongaWaterlineRestaurant

The Yellow Hibiscus at Palm Grove

The Yellow Hibiscus is an openair restaurant overlooking the garden at Palm Grove. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is served 8.00-10.00am, light lunch 12.00-2.00pm, and a la carte dining from 6.00pm Monday to Saturday, with live music on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Sunday there is a BBQ with live entertainment.

T: 20 002 • E:


Vaima on the Beach

Located in Vaimaanga, Vaima has indoor & outdoor dining options offering a range of entrees, mains and desserts served with casual elegance. Indoor seating has ocean views and local artwork. Pizzas are popular: dine in or take away. Full bar service. Open Wednesday - Monday (closed Tuesdays) from 3pm - 9pm.

T: 26 123


Wilson’s Restaurant at Castaway Resort

The best place to chase the sunset and the only restaurant on the island with a themed menu every night (Pasta, A la Carte, Mexican, Value Meals, Seafood and Curry). Also known for great customer service and mouth-watering seafood meals, Japanese – Yakitori skewers. Open 7 days a week. Happy Hour daily.

T: 21 546



They are colourful, energetic and entertaining, and combined with a buffetstyle feast they are good value for money. Enquire about the various island night shows on offer; some are smaller, intimate shows, others larger, spectacular shows with bigger audiences. Always book to avoid disappointment. Enjoy more than one of these fabulous experiences!

NOTE: Reconfirm with the venues for their days of operation, prices

VENUE SHOWS BOOKINGS Crown Beach Resort & Spa - Island Night & Buffet Dinner Thursday 23 953 The Edgewater Resort & Spa - Island Night & Umukai Feast Tuesday & Saturday 25 435 Highland Paradise Sunset Show & Feast ‘Drums of our Forefathers’ Monday, Wednesday & Friday 21 924 The Islander Hotel Akirata Dance Troupe Night Tuesday 21 003 Te Vara Nui Village Over Water Night Show & Buffet Dinner Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 24 006 Tumutoa Tours Umu Feast, String Band & Fire Show Monday & Thursday 87 608 Umu Experience Cultural Night Monday & Thursday 27 88
Image: CraigOwen
Family & group rates may be available.
38 COOK ISLANDS b c d e a
Village Eatery (Cafe and Restaurant) AVARUA BlackRock AVARUA


39 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 f g h i j k
Residence Art Villas
Sands Beachfront Hotel &
Polynesian Rental Cars & Bikes
Muri Lagoon Arore Heights
BeachRarotongaBungalows Moana
Aroko Bungalows Sokala Villas Manea Beach Island Car & BikeHire AV IS Pacific Resort Te Vakaroa Villas Muri Beachcomber Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas Aremango Guest House Nautilus Resort & Restaurant Tiana’s Beach Villas Blue Lagoon Villa Pacific Car & Scooter Hire CaptainTama's Lagoon Cruizes Polynesian Rental Cars & Bikes Muri Beach Hideaway LBV Muri Deli-licious Café The Rickshaw Café Muri Beach Resort & Aqua Café Muri Beach Club Hotel Silver Sands Restaurant The RaroSpaBuggy Tours Raro Quad Tours Koka Lagoon Cruises Pacific Village TEM Store KiteSUP Watersport Centre Ariki Holidays

A Q&A with Corrina Tucker from Storytellers Eco Cycling & Walking Tours

Environmental sociologist, researcher and university lecturer, Dr Corrina Tucker (from New Zealand) combines her background with a passion for the natural world and culture of Rarotonga.

What is special about Storytellers?

We provide unique experiences on small group tours. We cater for everyone's interests, from the plants to the food, history, culture or simply everyday life.

Do Storytellers cater for all levels of fitness?

We cater for all fitness levels. There are two bicycle tours: one is 'easy' and the other one is still relatively easy, but slightly longer. Plenty of stops along the way! Walking tours are a meander along level to gently sloping roads.

Describe the bicycles used on tours?

Good quality Avanti mountain bikes. Helmets are provided.

Name some highlights of a typical Storyteller tour?

Guests comment on the small group experience where guests can set the tour agenda in terms of their interests, rather than the tour guide! Husking a coconut, trying produce straight from the plant, visiting the 'secret waterfall', and learning the history of Rarotonga alongside everyday, contemporary life.

How long is a typical tour, and are there a maximum numbers? Walking tours are around 1½ hours long, while our bicycle tours are either 3 or 4 hours long. Bicycle and walking tours are limited to 10 people, while our truck tours are limited to 8.

What about children, families and special interest groups?

We take any ages on our walking tours (we have had little ones in front packs and push chairs!), and we can take babies from around 6 months old in our towbehind buggy on our bicycle tours; we have kiddie bicycles, a 'dolittle seat', and trail-behind bikes for kids. Customised tours are offered for special interest groups.

Where do Storyteller Eco Cycle & Walking Tours start and finish?

We have a few favourite spots around the island; only the 'Afternoon Stroll' tour takes place in the same location in town, as it is an area with a lot of history. Transfers are included so our guests do not need find their own way to our start points.

Storytellers Eco Cycle & Walking Tours

Storyteller tours are appealing as their name implies:

‘Discover’, ‘Explore’, ‘Walkabout’, ‘Afternoon Stroll’ and

‘On the Truck’.

Enjoy Rarotonga’s scenery away from the main road, and learn about its history, food, culture & everyday life. Transfers included; tours from $40.00pp, catering for all ages and fitness.

Contact us

T: 53 450


Island Life
The small group experience
Aunique w ay to experience an A u t h e nti c R arotongA

Golf in the Cook Islands. That’s a gimme.

If you enjoy playing golf, have go island style!

Rarotonga and Aitutaki both have 9-hole golf courses, both are a little quirky.

The Rarotonga Golf Club in Nikao is near the end of the airport runway and Black Rock, and it is the more sophisticated of the two courses in the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is an attractive golf course with ocean and mountain views.

Playing around the masts and

stays of the cable and wireless station contribute to the unique hazards of the course and makes for an enjoyable golf experience. It is a relatively flat course suitable for golfers of all levels.

Open to visitors MondayFriday from 8.00am-6.30pm. Saturday is member’s day. Bookings are not required but if you have a group give them a call. There are clubs for hire, and the clubhouse offers light refreshments and a bar for after

the game. Green Fees $30, club hire $25.

Aitutaki too has a 9-hole golf course not far from the airport, in fact clubs are only for hire at Aitutaki Airport during flight times. There is a local competition on Thursdays and visitors are invited to join, otherwise play at your leisure any day. Your Aitutaki accommodation or the Cook Islands Tourism Information Office in Aitutaki will have more details.

41 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 See & Do
(Image: Cook Islands Sun) (Image: Cook Islands Sun)
Image: Rarotonga Golf Course

Island Life

Spend time in Avarua

Situated on the north coast of Rarotonga squeezed between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean is the main township of Avarua. With a population of around 5000, Avarua is the centre for Cook Islands

products, clothing, and black pearls. There is also a CITC shopping centre, pharmacy, and supermarket in town. The Empire Cinema screens the latest movies.

If you enjoy the past, turn right

The iconic establishment, Trader Jacks T E A R A MAIRENUI DRIVE T O AIRPORT R U A T O N G A R O A D A R A T A P U R O A D M O S S R O A D CONSTITUTION PARK V I C T O R I A R O A D V A K AT I N I R O A D T U T A K I M O A R O A D S T J O S E P H S R 0 A D ARA METUA T A K U V A I N E R O A D M A K E A T I N I R A U R D TAV Pacific Clothing Lazy Trout Restaurant Avis Vodafone Paka's Pearls Next Tattoo National Museum & Library Paradise Inn Bergman Gallery Soul Café Te Tika Bio Active Oils (CITC Pharmacy) CITC Shopping Centre YACHT MARINA & FISHING BOATS Raro Reef Sub Eco Marine Tours Blue Water Tours Dawn Breaker GameChartersFishing Marlin Queen Fishing Charters Rarocars Port & Cargo Sheds Shipping & Customs CITC Liquor CITC Supermarket Avatiu Sports Grounds CITC Building Centre Start of Cross Island Track Rongohiva Water Sports The Bond Liquor Store Polynesian Tattoos Cook Islands The Little Red Gallery Kai Pizza PunangaNuiMarket Eateries,Stalls,Culture,Shops Island Craft Factory & Florist Ariki Café Polynesian Rental Cars & Bikes Goldmine Fave Designs CIPS / Jaycar Electronics No.1 Currency JetsaveTravel Treasure Chest Polynesian Rental Cars & Bikes Island Craft Foodland DOWNTOWN AREA POLICE STATION BUS TERMINAL COOKS CORNER • Cook’s Fudge Factory • Perfumes of Rarotonga • Busstop Cafe AVARUA HARBOUR WRECK OF MAITAI Vodafone • Internet • SIM Cards • Phones • POST OFFICE The Computer Man Office of the Prime Minister The Lucky Rooster Eatery CI Optics BANANA COURT • The Good Life • i.d. CK • Margaritas Bistro & Bar Trader Jacks Empire Cinema Courthouse NZ High Commissioner Australian High Commissioner Immigration Office Bounty Bookshop Central Motel Pare O Tane Palace of Makea Theological Hostel Auditorium UPTOWN AREA BEACHCOMBER The Café Moana Gems & Art Gallery University of the South Pacific Prime Foods HARBOUR HOUSE • Farm Direct Pearls • Cook Islands Tours Island Car & Bike Hire Reefside Café The Waffle Shack BTIB (Business Trade Investment Board) Body Fuel Café Bite Time Café Palace Takeaways Michelles Café Kai & Co Akura Fishing Charters Cook Islands Museum & Library CIPS Image & Copy Centre 1 2 e f g 1 2 e f g AVAT I U H A R BO U R Businesses & Hotels Cafés & Restaurants Toilets Historical Place Petrol Station KEY LEGEND WiFi Avarua TOWN Banana Court (Are Manuiri) Information Board Avarua CICC Information Board Takamoa Theological College Information Board ANZ BSP Bank

Island Life

Snorkel the lagoons of Rarotonga and Aitutaki in pristine waters where the marine life is rich and colourful, and captivating.

One of the best ways to enjoy the snorkelling experience is on a lagoon cruise in Muri and Aitutaki lagoons as you are taken to spots with plentiful and diverse marine life, and snorkelling gear is included. Otherwise, in Rarotonga, head to the Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve, the Fruits of Rarotonga in Tikioki, Black Rock near the airport, or Muri Lagoon. Rent your equipment and get tips from the likes of Adventure Cook Islands in Aroa, Ariki Adventures in Arorangi, and

KitesSUP WaterSports in Muri. Many accommodation outlets provide snorkelling gear.

The delights awaiting you include giant clams, moray

eels and schools of tropical fish. Turtles are best viewed with a small group led by professionals.

In Aitutaki’s for the best snorkelling experience in the massive lagoon try a lagoon tour or boat charter company such as Bishops Cruises, Platinum Cruising, and Black Pearl Charters.

Happy snorkelling. Stay safe!

Before you venture out read the Cook Islands Tourism advertisements on ‘How To Stay Water Safe’ on page 54, and ‘Turtle Tours’ ad on page 21.

(Image: David Kirkland Photography) (Image: Alexandra Adoncello)

Adventures In Paradise OFFSHORE ADVENTURES

Big game fishing

Both Rarotonga and Aitutaki have several fishing charter boat operators that head out into the ocean for marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and

Kitesurfing in the Cooks

Airy, spacious lagoons and easterly trade winds combine to offer perfect kitesurfing conditions in both Muri and Aitutaki lagoons. Equipment hire and lessons for kitesurfing and wing-foiling are available through KiteSUP in Muri, and Wet and Wild in Aitutaki. Only good on windy days!


Rarotonga offers good bodyboard spots around the island, depending on swell and wind conditions. The best time is around high tide. The surf breaks on the reef just below the surface; so, bodyboarding is not for beginners! Rent a bodyboard from Adventure Cook Islands.

Scuba Diving

Rarotonga and Aitutaki offer excellent options for scuba. There are many ocean dive sites in Rarotonga just off the lagoon reefs. Lagoon-based courses and hire is available from operators including Pacific Divers in Muri, Adventure Cook Islands at Aroa Beach, and Dive Aitutaki.

swordfish. During the winter months there is the added attraction of whale watching. Affordable and fun! Half-day and full-day options.


Walk the mountain tracks

Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours

Rarotonga has the most pristine tropical forests in the South Pacific. You will enjoy spectacular views as most of the walks are along the mountainous ridges. The Cross Island Trek and the Raemaru Trek are popular. Read the official advice ‘Exploring Rarotonga’s inland treks’ on page 46.

Enjoy the thrill of a Raro Safari Tour

Ahealthy and informative way to enjoy Rarotonga on a small group tour. Storytellers cater for all fitness levels with two bicycle tours, one easy, the other one is still relatively easy, but slightly longer. The bicycles are Avanti mountain bikes. Helmets are provided. They also offer walking tours.

Travel along Rarotonga’s ancient road and discover the hidden charms of picturesque inland scenes on a 4 x 4 Land Rover. The safari expedition offers a guided half-day adventure tour with history, nature, and lots of fun! The drivers are professional and knowledgeable tour guides.

Raro Buggy & Quad Tours too much fun!

There’s more to Rarotonga than beautiful beaches and blue lagoons. For those wanting the ultimate ‘off-road’ adventure, try the Muri-based Buggy Tours and/or Quad Tours. Get off road, get dirty and enjoy these funpacked inland adventures. They are popular so book early!

46 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | Ask a local for advice Wear strong footwear Advise your accommodation or host of your intentions Do not attempt treks if it has rained or rain is forecast Allow at least 3-5 hours walking time for the trek Take a jacket & drinking water Explore with at least a party of three Do not rely on mobile service whilst on the trek, reception is unreliable Plan to be back down before it gets dark Be advised - considerable physical effort is required on parts of the trek If you are unsure, book a guided tour with a local professional Check your footwear is clean from plant debris or seeds to stop invasive species entering new areas Exploring Are you thinking of Rarotonga’s inland treks? Before doing so, please consider our safety points: FOR EMERGENCIES CALL 999

The man behind Pa’s Cross-Island Trek

For 33 years Pa Teuruaa guided over 5000 visitors on Rarotonga’s rugged cross-island track, famously known as Pa’s Trek. He retired in 2018 handing Pa’s Treks to Bruce Goldsworthy.

“Pa’sniece is my wife; I was young and fit and able, so Pa just asked me one day and that was it!” said Bruce.

Bruce learned the ropes for two years before Pa’s retirement, then took over Pa’s Treks.

“Pa taught me about the flora and fauna, and the medicinal uses of native plants, which I pass on to members of the treks.”

Bruce started Maunga Tours to include other hikes, but the cross-island is most popular: it's steep & adventurous through dense forest past The Needle (Te Rua Manga) to Papua Waterfall.

“Visitors can book Pa’s CrossIsland Trek on our website; people still remember the name”.

Bruce was born and raised on Rarotonga.

“My heritage is from Aitutaki through my mother; my father is from New Zealand.”

When Bruce was in Grade 6, he was selected for a part in TV miniseries called The Other Side of Paradise starring Jason Connery.

(Richard Wilson), who is married a local woman.

Fast forward thirty years and Bruce now treks the mountains of Rarotonga.

Bruce said it is best to hike in the morning: “You beat the heat, and you're prepared for the day in case something happens,” said Bruce.

“They were scouting for a student that matched the description of a half Polynesian, half foreigner. I was lucky and got the role,” said Bruce. Set at the start of WW2, Bruce played Jimbo the son of a British doctor

“The cross-island trek takes 3 hours, with stops along the way. We provide water, fruits, and snacks. At the end we supply fruit and tuna or chicken rolls”.

Maunga Tours operate MondayFriday. Book at maungatours. com, email maungatours@, call 28 219/55 995 or use FB/IG.

47 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 ▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲
Pa Teuruaa and Bruce Bruce in The Other Side of Paradise.
“Pa just asked me one day and that was it!”
Bruce leading a cross-island trek

Five ways to keep fit on Rarotonga

Rarotonga is an amazing island resort with oodles of delicious food and drink at your fingertips. Day after day lounging on the beach or by the pool with a cocktail or a beer and indulging in the delectable Polynesian cuisines. But on Rarotonga it’s easy to balance indulgence with exercise! Here are a few suggestions:


The lagoons are a watery paradise for activities, above and below the surface, including canoeing, paddleboarding, snorkelling, scuba diving, and kitesurfing. Adventure and water sports centres operate in Arorangi (Ariki Adventures), Aroa (Adventure Cook Islands) and Muri (KitesSUP WaterSports) offering healthy, fun activities.


Cycling is popular as the road distance around Rarotonga is only 32 km. E-bikes (Polynesian Rentals, Ride Rarotonga, Tik-e Bikes) have opened the cycling option to visitors who prefer to switch between electric and physical power. Traditional bicycles are readily available. Bikes are a good alternative to scooters and cars as they are eco-friendly.


Trekking Rarotonga’s mountainous interior is exhilarating but it can be strenuous. Best done on a guided tour (Maunga Tours) or

on a self-guided hiking trail. The two most popular treks are the Cross Island Trek (Te Rua Manga 413 m) and the Raemaru Trek (Raemaru, 350m). See page 46 for ‘Exploring’ safety tips.


Cook Islanders love their sport, especially rugby, rugby league, netball, volleyball, soccer, and cricket. Each code has a set season during the year and players love to keep competitively fit. There are decent gyms on Rarotonga including Raro Muscle Gym (Tupapa) and Tumuora Crossfit Box (Arorangi).


Rarotonga Golf Club is in Nikao. It is nine holes, a nice little course, flat but challenging especially where the fairways crossover and navigating radio masts. The green fees and club hire are fairly priced. The setting is pleasant with the mountains and the ocean close by. No need to book, except for groups.

Health & Beauty
(Image: Ikurangi Eco Retreat) Yoga at Ikurangi Eco Retreat

Why are black pearls so called?

Because they grow in the black lipped oyster (pinctada margaritifera). The pearls are not black as such but range in colour from aubergine, to champagne to peacock green. Cook Islands black pearls are special.

Most Cook Islands black pearls are produced in the pristine lagoon of Manihiki. The lagoon provides ideal conditions for growing black pearls. The variety of colours make them unique.

How do black pearls compare with other pearls in value?

They are second only to the Australian golden pearls ‘South Seas’ pearls.

What are the basic guidelines for buyers of black pearls?

We value each pearl on its size, shape, and quality. The quality of a pearl is determined by its lustre and how clean the surface of the pearl is. So, we look for any imperfections on the pearl and the sheen or lustre of the pearl and grade it accordingly.

This contribution (edited) is courtesy of Farm Direct Pearls.

Inspired by traditional, scientifically-proven, Cook Islands regenerative medicines

A key ingredient in the TeTika® Skincare range, Bioactive Cook Islands Oils are the result of intense research into the traditional Cook Islands medicinal practices. These remarkable oils have a rejuvenating effect on the epidermis of the skin.

key ingredient in the

TeTika® Skincare range, Bioactive Cook Islands Oils are the result of intense research into the traditional Cook Islands medicinal practices. These remarkable oils have a rejuvenating effect on the epidermis of the skin. See the full range of the TeTika® Skincare products at CITC Pharmacy in Avarua. • AVAILABLE AT Access & Benefit Sharing

An aerial view of Manihiki atoll Tourism)
Buying Black Pearls?
See the full range of the TeTika® Skincare products at CITC Pharmacy in Avarua. Inspired by traditional, scientifically-proven, Cook Islands regenerative medicines A
Lesley& Temu Okotai Harbour House, Avatiu,ph20635 email:

Some of the best spas in the South Pacific are in the Cook Islands

Being pampered for an hour or two at a spa in Rarotonga offers you the opportunity to truly relax and create a memorable experience from your visit to the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga offers a wonderful variety of spa and wellbeing options.

Most spas have their own little

shy to ask for spa menus and wellbeing lists.

You may simply choose a spa based on its proximity to your accommodation, but you should also consider the range of offerings, the style of service, the surroundings, and the overall atmosphere, of other spas.

Some of the best spas and salons in the South Pacific are in Rarotonga.

Here are two examples: Te Manava Spa

Located at Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa in Muri Beach, the Te Manava Spa has internationally trained therapists providing a full range of spa and beauty treatments including aromatherapy relaxation massage, deep tissue massage and Balinese massage, all in a tranquil water garden setting.

Health & Beauty
Te Manava Spa massage tables in garden setting

Pacific Lounge

Located next to the main reception area at Pacific Resort Rarotonga in Muri, the Pacific Lounge offers a range of beauty treatments and massage therapies to enhance your overall sense of wellbeing. Pamper yourself with a manicure/ pedicure, body massage and/or foot massage.


A range of beauty products at Pacific Lounge

Made with love in the Cook Islands

Rito Cook Islands have been carefully extracting oil from locally grown nuts since 2007, holding the secret to beautiful skin and hair.

Rito Cook Islands skincare uses the best quality ingredients from the sea and gardens of the South Pacific.

In 2007 Susan and Robert Wyllie began to produce their skincare range and coconut oil at their premises in Tikioki, Rarotonga. Today they continue to extract the purest tamanu oil and coconut oil from the centuriesold method of grating, drying, and cold-pressing using a heavy manual press.

If you are in Rarotonga, they invite you to visit the Rito showroom at Tikioki and learn more about their artisan products and unique process. They are also at Punanga Nui Market every Saturday morning in the Rito Cook Islands hut.

Or visit the Rito online shop for a full range of their skincare, haircare, and coconut oil products at

pure indulgence

& Beauty The Edgewater's Akaora Spa & Salon is open from 8am - 8pm daily. For appointments call 25435 ext 5032 Pampering in paradise ... relaxing massages, therapies and beauty treatments.
Skincare weaving pure nature with science and Cook Islands tradition Visit us 1km on the Muri side of Charlies Café +682 20 134 I 127mm x 127mm LEAF ADVERT.indd 1 17/05/22 10:11 AM

A Young American Working in Paradise

In 1999 Crown Beach Resort became a labour of love for its owner Papa Rondo Perkins and wife Julie from Idaho. Rondo, fondly known as ‘the Rarotonga Cowboy’, passed away in 2020, but not before he handed the resort management to his granddaughter, Sierra Glade-Garner. Sierra says:

“Papa Rondo and Grandma Julie, who passed in 2016, absolutely loved Rarotonga, but most of all they loved the people and the culture.”

How did you come to Crown Beach Resort?

My family and I came on vacation a few times with Papa Rondo to see his Resort. In 2015, Papa asked if I would like to come live on the Island and work here to see how I like it. The rest is history!

Describe Crown Beach Resort today?

We are an adults-only Resort situated on 5 acres of gardens. Our villas are individual units that provide luxury and privacy. We have an all-day beachside restaurant, Oceans Restaurant & Bar, a day Spa, Spa Ariki. We

also cater for weddings and events. This year we released our new, comprehensive ‘Wedding Kit’.

What attracts the most favourable comments about the Resort?

Our employees! They are our greatest asset and make Crown Beach what it is. They treat everyone as a VIP and offer a sense of friendliness our guests say set us apart from others.

What food and beverage outlets are in the Resort?

Oceans Restaurant & Bar is open daily from 7.30am – 9pm

for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For dinner we serve a la carte, but we also have themed buffet nights that are popular.

What is special about Spa Ariki?

We offer a wide range of services in indoor and outdoor treatment areas. Our friendly therapists work with clients to ensure they get the best possible treatment.

What do you enjoy about living in the Cook Islands?

I love the laid-back lifestyle and the culture. Cultural shows and celebrations always amaze me, even after being here for almost eight years! And I love that no matter where you go, you can almost always hear the sound of the waves crashing.

53 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Spa Ariki at Offering a range of services perfect for anyone looking to relax in paradise +682 23953 Don't miss out on our monthly specials! Spa Ariki at Offering a range of services perfect for anyone looking to relax in paradise +682 23953 Don't miss out on our monthly specials!
Crown Beach Resort Sierra Glade-Garner

Water How to stay in the Cook Islands Safe

• For your safety DO NOT KAYAK, SWIM OR SNORKEL in the passages indicated above

• Strong currents and rip tides present

Safety Tips

• Be smart. Know your limits

• Do not explore alone

• Wear a life jacket

• Stay away from the passages


YWAM Base Old Sheraton Hotel Avaavaroa Passage Papua Passage Rutaki Passage
Arorangi CICC Church

The vital nature of regenerative tourism

A Q&A with Cook Islands Tourism Director of Destination Development,

Director of Destination Development for the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, Brad Kirner, leads a team dedicated to ensuring a high-quality visitor experience, while also optimising the benefits visitors bring to the Cook Islands. Having recently moved from New Zealand to Rarotonga with his young family, Brad offers a distinctive perspective both as a visitor and someone who has the ‘inside word’ on what makes tourism in the Cook Islands tick.

Cook Islands Tourism is committed to integrating sustainable and regenerative tourism into the country’s visitor experiences.

Q1 What does regenerative tourism mean in the Cook Islands?

Regenerative tourism refers to how tourism - both travellers and industry - can positively contribute to the wellbeing of a destination. Put simply, it's about leaving the people and place of your holiday destination better off than you found it. In the Cook Islands we refer to this responsible, mindful stewardship as 'mana tiaki', a term that translates as ‘the power or duty of a guardian’. Cook Islanders have been living by these principles for generations. When you live in such a small place with limited resources, being a mana tiaki is pretty much non-negotiable.

Q2 How will travellers, the tourism industry and the locals participate?

There are two components of a regenerative approach: minimising the potential negative impacts associated

around locally owned and produced goods and services. For conservation, minimise your water, waste and energy use, support environmentally-minded businesses and get involved with conservation activities. Be respectful of the local people, their culture and traditions. Help community (social) wellbeing though involvement with community projects, events and 'voluntourism' activities. Attend cultural shows, buy local arts and crafts, and take a cultural tour!

Q4 Is there a good role model for regenerative tourism already in the Pacific region?

with tourism activities, and maximising the potential positive impacts. Tourism is unique in that it has the ability to impact or influence almost all aspects of a community, and it can act as a huge benefactor economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally.

Q3 What can visitors do to advance the success of regenerative tourism in the Cook Islands?

Through the '4C's of wellbeing': Commerce, Conservation, Community, and Culture. For commerce, spend more (please), spread your hard-earned money

It's great to see regenerative tourism being talked about more and more, not just in the Pacific but around the world. We have some amazing local operators that have been practising 'regenerative tourism' for a while now. I'd encourage readers to look up 'Regenerative Tourism' on our website (www. to learn more.

Q5 What are the long-term benefits for the Cook Islands from the regenerative tourism strategy.

You will start to see more regenerative tourism guidance and tangible 'on-the-ground' opportunities for visitors to become a mana tiaki during their time here. Our job at Cook Islands Tourism is to develop and showcase regenerative experiences so that visitors have the opportunity to enjoy and contribute towards them while visiting our little paradise.

“It's about leaving both the people and place… better off than you found it”.
Brad Kirner
Beach in Atiu Brad Kirner

Aitutaki Day Tour

… a great day out!

Air Rarotonga’s all-inclusive Aitutaki Day Tour operates Monday to Saturdays, departing at 8.00am, returning by 5.30pm. The cost is NZ$599. The duration is approximately 10 hours.

C oach transfer is included from/ to all major hotels and motels, as well as several pickup points along the main road, starting at 6.30am in Rarotonga, to Rarotonga International Airport for the 8 am departure. The flight takes forty minutes.

On arrival at Aitutaki there is a onehour island tour of Aitutaki by 'le truck'. Then on to the highlight of the day: The Vaka Cruise aboard the 21m Vaka (catamaran) Titi-ai-Tonga. There is time for swimming and snorkeling (equipment & towels provided) before stopping for a tasty barbecue lunch, cooked on board. The cruise visits several motu (small islets) including One Foot Island, before passing by Akaiami, once a stopover for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) flying boats en route from Fiji to Tahiti on the weekly Coral Route.

Book at the Air Rarotonga Tour Desk at Rarotonga International Airport or book online at T: 22 888.


Vaka Cruise Titi-ai-Tonga (Image: Cook Islands Sun) (Image: @theposhrunner)

Coral restoration project launched to help revive Aitutaki’s marine ecosystem

Pacific Resort Aitutaki is excited to launch their coral restoration project in Aitutaki Lagoon. The ambitious project fosters community and guest engagement while restoring and protecting the marine environment for future generations.

The goal of the restoration project is to replenish and repopulate Aitutaki’s coral reef, improve reef health and contribute a positive impact on the natural ecosystem. The project adopts a multifaceted approach, combining scientific research, guest and community engagement, alongside innovative techniques.

Small branches of living coral are fixed to blocks and attached to a mesh table that is submerged in the lagoon. Once established, they will be transplanted onto existing coral beds, re-establishing

Images: David Kirkland
“The…project aims to rejuvenate, protect and preserve the natural beauty of Aitutaki Lagoon”

the vibrant ecosystems. This ongoing project seeks to enhance the lagoon’s ability to withstand future environmental challenges.

Pardeep Kumar, General Manager of Pacific Resort Aitutaki, is grateful for the expertise and contribution from Richard and Isabella from Aitutaki Marine Research who have demonstrated how to plant the delicate coral and shared valuable information about coral and marine life to guests and staff at the resort.

“Guests staying at Pacific Resort Aitutaki are encouraged to contribute to the coral planting initiative and can be kept up to date on the progress of their coral via a register. The resort believes that tourism should enhance and enrich both the traveller and the community in which they visit,” said Pardeep.

“Pacific Resort Aitutaki is passionate about Mana Tiaki, which means guardianship with a sacred purpose, and are committed to being leaders in responsible and regenerative tourism. As guardians of 19 acres of tropical gardens and 1.5 Kilometres of beach


aims to rejuvenate, protect and preserve the natural beauty of Aitutaki Lagoon”.

the coral restoration project
“Guests…are encouraged to contribute to the coral planting initiative”

Some insider tips on Aitutaki

Not so long ago we asked Nick Henry GM of Tamanu Beach Resort for a few quick tips on Aitutaki.

Nice place to watch the sunrise.

For those who are up before sunrise the view from Piraki lookout is heavenly; look towards motu Angarei & Motu Ee as the sun sneaks through the coconut palms and lights up the lagoon.

Nice place to watch the sunset. Sunsets are delightful from the beaches of Amuri, right through past town.

Top three ‘must do’ activities.

Top one is out in the lagoon; a cruise with any cruise or boat charter company is a must! No 2, Lagoon cruise

TheBar & Grill a itutaki

Relax with a cold drink while you enjoy the cold breezes and ocean view. Enjoy a simple all-day menu, or a-la-carte dinner menu featuring local seafood and Asian flavours.

60 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 Aitutaki
(Image: David Kirkland)

meeting locals; say Kia Orana whether it's over an ice cream, a beer, or at church. No 3, Tamanu Takurua Island Night Show. Sounds a little selfpromoting; however, it's got to be right up there!

Best snorkelling spots

Best snorkelling is in the main lagoon; join a lagoon cruise or boat charter and stop at their favourite spots: off Honeymoon Island is pretty good. Otherwise, on the main

island Base One near the end of the old airstrip is good, or anywhere along Amuri Beach from Tamanu Beach to Pacific Resort.

Best long walk on the island

Starting in town at the Post Office and walking through the middle of the island past Kuramoo gardens, up to Piraki Lookout is a leisurely walk. Walking up to Maunga Pu is a more strenuous, but she rewards you with great views! Don’t leave Aitutaki without... … a One Foot Island (tapuae tai) stamp in your passport. If you haven't visited One Foot Island (tapuae tai) you haven't been to Aitutaki!

Something interesting about Aitutaki that visitors should know?

People of Aitutaki are proud that the first leader of our independent nation, our grandfather Papa Arapati was born in Aitutaki. They named the main road to the harbour Sir Albert Henry Drive after him, and the road back inland from the dock is named Lady Elizabeth Henry Road after Albert's wife.

Buffet at Tamanu Takurua Island Night Show
Our well-maintained and modern eet includes • small 4 door hatchback cars • 8 seater MPV's • automatic scooters Phone: (682) 31379 • •
(Image: Cook Islands Sun)

An eco-lovers little paradise … Atiu, the land of birds

Atiu is the third largest island in the Cook Islands, 187kms from Rarotonga, yet it is a world apart from the big island.

Atiu appeals to the intrepid traveller who enjoys peace and quiet, and who can live with minimum of fancy trimmings required by today’s society.

Aitu’s population of around 400 live in five villages spread out from the centre of the island on a flat plateau. Surrounding the plateau is a ring of taro water gardens, then the jungle-clad makatea (fossil coral reef) down to the beaches and lagoon.

Located at the edge of the plateau are chaletstyle lodges known as Atiu Villas. They are

made almost entirely of local native timbers and materials, featuring the polished woods of mango, coconut, red peanut, acacia, cedar, Java plum and other tropical trees.

Atiu Villas provides a quiet and relaxing environment surrounded by an extensive tropical garden, pineapple fields, and a view down a jungle-clad valley to the ocean. It is only a short walk to the pristine, white sandy beaches, that are inevitably deserted.

Air Rarotonga offer a two-night Atiu Getaway at Atiu Villas from NZ$848.00 single traveller, or $1216.00 per couple.

Take an eco-tour with Birdman George. Have Taungaroro Beach all to yourself. Your hosts Roger and Kura will make your stay an exciting adventure Phone: (682) 33 777 | Email: On-line bookings at - Free email & internet For more information on Atiu Island visit
Atiu Villas provides a quiet and relaxing environment.

Stay-A-While in The Cook Islands

Your choice of accommodation

Choose from packaged Hotels & Resorts or more personal Luxury villas and SelfCatering homes and apartments, or maybe Backpackers and Budget establishments. There is an eclectic variety available, particularly in Rarotonga and Aitutaki mostly on, or close by, the lagoons.

This symbol on a listing indicates the property is a member of the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation and Quality Assurance Program.

Image by: KirklandPhotos

Featured Accommodation Places

Telephone: +682 23 953

Central Motel


Telephone: +682 25 735

Club Raro Resort


Telephone: +682 22 415

Ikurangi Eco Retreat


Telephone: +682 25 288

Map Location Page No 1. Crown Beach Resort 64 2. Manuia Beach Resort 65 3. Rarotonga Daydreamer Escape 69 4. Palm Grove 65 5. Sands Villas 69 6. Little Polynesian Resort 65 7. Te Manava Luxury Villas 67 8. Pacific Resort Rarotonga 65 9. Muri Beach Club Hotel 65 A D APU VAIMAANGA NGATAnGIIA MURI TU PAPA AVARUA ARORANGI RUTAKI TITIKAVEKA NIKAO MATAVERA 1 2 8 4 5 9 7 3 6 RAROTONGA HOTELS & RESORTS Crown Beach Resort & Spa Arorangi Located on the sheltered sunset coast of Rarotonga where 5 acres of manicured gardens meet the pristine Aroa beach that caresses a sparkling turquoise lagoon. Our spacious air-conditioned villas and suites present king bedrooms that are decorated with neutral fabrics and soft textures. This intimate adults-only boutique resort is renowned for its fantastic beach location, fine food, and relaxed ambiance.
Image: Craig Owen Image: Noel Bartley

Little Polynesian Resort


Moana Sands Lagoon Resort


Telephone: +682 26 189

Muri Beach Club Hotel

(See advertisement back cover)


Pacific Resort Rarotonga


Escape to this romantic, award-winning 5-star adults-only resort. Choose from Beachfront Bungalows or Garden Studios. Enjoy culinary delights at our chic restaurant by the infinity pool, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Perfect for couples and honeymooners seeking privacy, luxury, and a touch of romance.

Telephone: +682 24 280

Manuia Beach Resort


Manuia Beach is an adult’s-only boutique resort set amongst beautiful tropical gardens on a pristine white sand beach. Located on the sunset coast, Manuia features authentic Cook Islands-style suites with modern amenities including air conditioning, an infinity pool, and ‘On the Beach’ Restaurant and Bar, famed for its stylish Polynesian cuisine.

Telephone: +682 22 461

Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel


Telephone: +682 26 183

Moana Sands Beachfront Villas


Telephone: +682 26 294

Designed with the taste of discerning travellers in mind, Muri Beach Club Hotel stands out from the rest through its modern facilities & well-appointed rooms with a Polynesian flair, 24-hour service & carefully considered layout, ensuring a sanctuary for privacy & escapism. Muri Lagoon is Rarotonga’s most scenic destination doubling as your aquatic playground for superb & safe water activities.

Telephone: +682 23 000

Muri Beach Resort


Telephone: +682 22 779

Nautilus Resort


Telephone: +682 25 125

Discover unparalleled excellence at this 4.5-star family-friendly resort on Muri Beach. Experience a full-service paradise with a restaurant & bar, beauty salon, kids club, and more. Whether you're a solo traveller, seeking a romantic getaway, with friends, or a family, Pacific Resort Rarotonga offers something for everyone, cementing its awardwinning status.

Telephone: +682 20 427

Palm Grove


Set in the enchanting area of Vaimaanga on the stunning southern coast, Palm Grove offers the tranquility of one of the best locations on Rarotonga. 22 individual bungalows are scattered over five acres of beachfront and garden property. Amenities include onsite restaurant and bar, swimming pool, daily housekeeping, and tour desk.

Telephone: +682 20 002

Image: David Kirkland
Need A Room?A Meal? FAMILY-FRIENDLY? The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium • Lagoon Deck Dining! • All-day Menu • Island Night Mondays w/ real Umu Feast! • Rooms/Suites/Villas • Aroa Lagoonarium –Raro’s Best Snorkelling ADULTS-ONLY? Sanctuary Rarotongaon the beach • Swim-up Bar • Poolside Dining • Prime Beachfront Suites • Secluded Sandy Beach • * All-tide Swimming / Snorkelling / SUP/ Kayaking • Age 16+ Book Direct & Save! +682-25800 Adjacent Sister Resorts

Sanctuary Rarotonga

(See advertisement opposite page)

Aroa Beach

Telephone: +682 25 900

The Edgewater Resort & Spa


Telephone: +682 25 435

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium

(See advertisement opposite page)

Aroa Beach

Telephone: +682 25 800



Black Rock

Telephone: +682 28 873

Crystal Blue Lagoon Villas


Telephone: +682 55 720

Motu Beachfront Art Villas


Telephone: +682 24 682

Onu Bay Holiday House


Telephone: +682 71 478

Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa


Telephone: +682 22 551

Sea Change Villas


Telephone: +682 22 532

Serenity Villas


Telephone: +682 71 478

Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa


Avana Waterfront Apartments

Avana - www.

Telephone: +682 20 836

Aro’a Beachfront House


Aroa Kainga Bungalows



with our exquisite self-contained villas, featuring one, two, or three bedrooms and private pools. Nestled on Muri Beach, enjoy stunning views of the serene turquoise waters of Muri


Telephone: +682 22 246

Aroko Bungalows


Telephone: +682 23 625

Telephone: +682 28 150

Te Vakaroa Villas


Telephone: +682 25 593


Anchor’s Rest

Betela Beach

Telephone: +682 25 427 or 55 250

Anchor’s Sand


Arapati Holiday Homes


Telephone: +682 25 761 or 54 966

Ariana Bungalows


Telephone: +682 20 521

Ariki Bungalows


Telephone: +682 27 955

Arcadia Retreat


Telephone: +682 55 289 or 55 678

Atupa Orchid Units


Telephone: +682 28 543

B’s Beach House


Telephone: +682 76 781/53 782/21 646

Bella Beach Bungalows


Telephone: +682 26 004

Blackrock Villas


Telephone: +682 21 233

Blue Lagoon Villa

Black Rock

Telephone: +682 25 2321 or 22 6270

Casa Del Sol Villas


Fb: CasaDelSolCookIslands

Telephone: +682 55 321

Charlie’s Villas


Telephone: +682 28 056 or 54 007

Clear Water Lagoon View Villas


Lagoon. Benefit from a dedicated Villa Concierge and indulge in onsite luxury spa treatments for an unforgettable experience.
the epitome of luxury

Cook Islands Holiday Villas

Telephone: +682 55 271 or 52 321

Cooks Bay Villas


Telephone: +682 22 922

Dorothys Muri Beach Bungalows


Telephone: +682 21 400

Emily’s at Panama


Hawaiki Villas


Telephone: +682 22 130

Heliconia Hideaway


Telephone: +682 55 795

Heron’s Reef


Telephone: +682 26 488

Iro’s Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 27 821

Island Bay Villas


Telephone: +682 22 616

Island Harmony Cottage


Telephone: +682 27 140 or 57 694

JJ’s Retreat


Telephone: +682 70 137

Kaireva Beach House


Telephone: +682 25 207

Kakera Apartments


Telephone: +682 20 532

Kia Orana Villas


Kiikii Inn & Suites


Telephone: +682 21 937 or 72 610

Kings Beach Villa

Telephone: +682 21 458 or 55 627

Kura’s Kabanas


Telephone: +682 27 010

Lagoon Breeze Villas


Telephone: +682 22 020

Little Oneroa


Magic Reef Beachside Bungalows


Telephone: +682 27 404

Makayla Palms


Telephone: +682 22 936

Manea Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 25 336

Muri Beachcomber


Telephone: +682 21 022

Muri Beach Cottages


Telephone: +682 23 666

Muri Beach Hideaway


Telephone: +682 29 005

Muri Beach Villa


Muri Lagoon View Bungalows


Telephone: +682 55 089

Muri Lagoon Villa


Telephone: +682 25 2321 or 22 6270

Muri Heights Villas


Telephone: +682 20 466

Muri Hillside Guest Houses


Telephone: +682 55 769

Muri Retreat Apartments


Telephone: +682 24 141

Muri Shores


Telephone: +682 52 325

Natura Holiday Homes

Various locations

Telephone: +682 21 003

Ocean Spray Villas


Telephone: +682 55 089

Paradise Holiday Homes


Telephone: +682 79 795


Raina Beach Apartments


Telephone: +682 23 601

Rarotonga Beach Bungalows


Telephone: +682 27 030

Rarotonga Villas


Telephone: +682 28 601

Rarotonga Daydreamer Escape


Rendezvous Villas


Telephone: +682 55 020/55 714

Sands Villas


Sokala Villas


Telephone: +682 29 200

Sunhaven Beach Bungalows


Telephone: +682 28 465

Ta’akoka Muri Beach Villas


Telephone: 55 082

Te Puka Estate

The three, 3-bedroom Sands Villas are located right on the Titikaveka Beach and snorkelling lagoon - generally regarded as the prime spot on Rarotonga. Families and groups welcome. Book direct via the website for pics and info and the very best rate. Unbeatable for air conditioned comfort, facilities, and location!

Telephone: +682 56 599/55 289


Telephone: +682 28 400

The Beach Lodge


Telephone: +682 23 333

Secluded and intimate piece of paradise, set amongst lush tropical gardens. Tranquil pool setting with private individual outdoor living; snorkel in crystal clear lagoon nearby. Quiet and private while being convenient to a supermarket, café and restaurant. Six self-catering, spacious apartments; ideal for relaxing after exploring the magic of Rarotonga.

Telephone: +682 25 965

Seaside Beachfront Villas


Telephone: +682 50 137

Seaspray Beach Villa


Telephone: +682 28 288

The Black Pearl of Puaikura


Telephone: +682 23 537

The Cooks Oasis Holiday Villas


Telephone: +682 54 497

Tiana’s Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 24 404

Tropical Sands


Telephone: +682 23 564

Tuoro Holiday Villas


Telephone: +682 25 2321 or 22 6270

Turangi Lagoon Villas


Telephone: +682 25 2321 or 22 6270

Vai Villas


Telephone: +682 23 333

Vaiakura Holiday Homes


Telephone: +682 70 289

White House Apartments


Telephone: +682 25 919

Whitesands Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 22 919


Aremango Guesthouse & Cottage


Telephone: +682 24 346

Rarotonga Backpackers


Telephone: +682 21 590

Location of Featured Accommodation

Aitutaki Lagoon

Private Island Resort

(See advertisement on page 6) Akitua

Telephone: +682 31 200

Aitutaki Village


Telephone: +682 31 526

Pacific Resort Aitutaki

(See advertisement inside front cover)


Experience unrivalled luxury at Pacific Resort

Aitutaki, the Cook Islands' #1 top-rated full-service luxury resort. Enjoy breathtaking views of the renowned Aitutaki lagoon from your private sundeck. Savour poolside cocktails and dine with panoramic vistas at Rapae Restaurant. Pamper yourself at Tiare Spa, explore the lagoon through kayaking and snorkelling, or relax by the stunning infinity pool.

Telephone: +682 31 720

Our beautiful beachfront resort features 23 bungalows, conference facilities, spa and massage therapy services, two fresh water swimming pools, a beachfront bar and restaurant, and a gift shop. The resort offers four accommodation options including studio garden rooms, and one-bedroom lagoon view rooms. Our beachfront rooms are water’s edge, a stone’s throw from our lagoon.

Telephone: +682 31 810


Aitutaki Escape


Telephone: +682 31 906

Etu Moana Boutique Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 31 458

Tamanu Beach Pacific Resort Aitutaki


Aitutaki Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 31 650

Aitutaki Seaside Lodges


Telephone: +682 31 056

Amuri Sands


Telephone: +682 31 130

Aretai Beach Villas


Telephone: +682 31 645

Kuru Club


Telephone: +682 53 000

Paparei Beachfront Bungalows


Telephone: +682 31 837

Paradise Cove Lodges


Telephone: +682 31 218

Petero’s Place Aitutaki


Telephone: +682 53490

Popoara Ocean Breeze Villas


Telephone: +682 31 739

Ranginui’s Retreat


Telephone: +682 31 657

Ranginui Sunset


Telephone: +682 31 651

Rino’s Beach Motel


Telephone: +682 31 197

Sunny Beach Lodge


Telephone: +682 31 446

Tai Roto Bay Beach Villas



Telephone: +682 31 745

The Reef Motel Aitutaki


Telephone: +682 24 280


Gina’s Garden & Beach Lodges

Tautu & Akaiami

Telephone: +682 31 058

Matriki Beach Huts


Telephone: +682 31 564

Petero’s Place


Telephone: +682 31 762

Vaikoa Beach Units


Telephone: +682 31 145

Atiu Kia Orana Bungalows


Atiu Villas


Telephone: +682 33 777

Kopeka Lodge


Telephone: +682 33-006 or 50 121


Babe’s Guest House


Telephone: +682 34 092

Mangaia Villas


Telephone: +682 34 885


Manihiki Lagoon Villas


Telephone: +682 43 123

Tiare Cottages


Telephone: +682 35 270

Ri’is Retreat


Telephone: +682 35 181





Telephone: +682 42 015


Rarotonga Airport Departures & Arrivals

1 Domestic Baggage Claim Area 2 Air New Zealand Travel Centre DEPARTURES 3 Premium Check-In (International) 4 Air New Zealand Check-In (International) 5 Jetstar Check-In (International) 6 Air Rarotonga Check-In (Domestic) 7 Air Rarotonga Travel Centre 8 Departure Gate – Domestic Flights 9 Domestic Arrivals & Departure Hall 10 International & Domestic Check-In 11 Trolleys 12 Café 13 Toilets 14 Gardens 15 Government VIP Lounge 16 Koru Lounge 17 Security & Emigration 18 International Departures 19 Gate 1 20 Gate 2 21 Café 22 Duty Free 23 Shops 24 Toilets ARRIVALS 25 International Immigration 26 International Baggage Claim 27 Customs & Security 28 Baggage Carousel 29 Duty Free (Arrivals) 30 Meet & Greet 31 Car Rental & Tour Offices 32 Lockers 33 Quarantine Office PARKING 34 Car Park Pay Station 35 Car Park P 36 ATM $ 37 Taxis and Transport Rarotonga Airport LEGEND 21 29 24 25 26 27 28 28 30 ARRIVALS ARRIVALS GATE 36 $



 COVID-19: Vaccination requirements no longer apply for travel and entry to the Cook Islands by aircraft (and sea vessels). Normal immigration requirements apply.

 Except New Zealand passport holders, a passport needs to be valid for at least six months past the arrival date in the Cook Islands

 Duty free allowance (18+ years) is 2 litres of alcoholic beverages or 4.5 litres of beer; 200 cigarettes or 20 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco

 Duty free may be purchased on arrival before Customs & Immigration, and on departure

 Importation of fruit and vegetables by passengers is prohibited

 All baggage is cleared at Rarotonga

 Departure cards are required for passengers 15+ years departing Cook Islands on international flights

 There is no departure tax payable as it is included in international tickets

Subject to change.

73 COOK ISLANDS VISITOR GUIDE | 2023-2024 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 12 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 32 34 35
CAR PARK MAIN ROAD DEPARTURE GATES P P 37 37 1 14 14 Disclaimer: Reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information in this airport layout
errors, or omissions.   33 31 31
is accurate;
responsibility is accepted

A new bestselling book about the Cook Islands, written

by a local author

Rarotonga-based author Jean Tekura Mason wrote both the English and Cook Islands Māori text of Cook Islands – Kūki ‘Airani to outline key aspects of life, culture and history in her country. This colourful paperback sets out the seven pillars of life in the Cook Islands, with concise text on key aspects of the nation.

L aunched in March 2023, this small book is already in its first reprint. It is a book designed for those who want a broad overview of Cook Islands language, values, culture, geography, weather, flora, fauna, history and people.

The book is bilingual and gives the discerning tourist a window into the country they are visiting and the Cook Islands Maori language.

“It tells us that love and compassion (ngakau aro’a), family and blood connections (kopu tangata), being peaceful and gentle (marū), obedience

to elders (kauraro), bearing one’s cross quietly (akakoromaki), humility (aka’aka) and faith (‘irinaki’anga) are foundation values for Cook Islands Maori people,” said author Jean Tekura Mason.

“But we also learn that īka mata (marinated fish in coconut cream), poke (mashed fruit baked in arrowroot), taro (root vegetable), ariri (turban snail) and ūnga kaveu (coconut crab) are the staples and delicacies Cook Islanders enjoy and you too should have the opportunity to try”.

There is a brief synopsis of the colourful modern history of the islands. Captain William Bligh visited Aitutaki on HMS Bounty just 17 days before he was overthrown by Fletcher Christian and his mutineers on 28 April 1789. The first known

A Museum & Library Side by Side

For all your Pacific & Cook Islands research & reference needs.

Lending library: chick lit, thrillers, non-fiction, & children’s books. Special rate for visitors. Souvenirs & new books for sale.

The oldest museum in the country: exeprience our national heritage.

Open: Mon-Fri, 9am -1pm

Location: Makea Tinirau Rd, Avarua. Phone: 26468

European explorers to sight Pukapuka and Rakahanga were Spanish, Suwarrow Russian, Manihiki American, and Atiu, Ma’uke and Mitiaro English. We find out there are many varieties of plants and their close connection to traditional Maori life in the islands –through the making of rope, clothing, hats, houses, food and medicine. We get an insight into the importance of the revival of the art of tattoo (tatau) and ocean-going canoe voyaging (vaka purua), the custom of hair cutting, the investiture of ariki (chiefs), the art of tivaivai (quilt) making and the significance of dancing in Cook Islands Maori society.

“This book is heavily Illustrated with images from around the Cook Islands. It’s a compact little book with all the basic knowledge you would need to know about a country you are visiting for the first time, including key phrases such as greetings (kia ora āna), numbers (1= tai) and goodbye (aere ra). It is ideally suited for the busy but discerning tourist visiting the Cook Islands”.

The book retails from $24 to $26 and can be purchased in Rarotonga at CITC Main Store in Avarua, Cook Islands Library & Museum Society at Avarua; Bounty Bookshop in Avarua, and CITC Duty Free at Rarotonga Airport. The book is also available in many New Zealand and online bookshops, and also through the publisher

Island Life
Cook Islands Kuki ‘Airani Author, Jean Tekura Mason
“It is ideally suited for the busy but discerning tourist visiting the Cook Islands”



Quality Assured

The Cook Islands Quality Assured accreditation programme is designed to set minimum standards and guidelines for best practice.

It will give you confidence when choosing where to stay, what to do and how best to experience the Cook Islands.

Wherever you see this logo, you can be sure that the accommodation, restaurant, rental company, day spa, wedding and event planner, tour or activity operator, has met minimum requirements to assure you of good service, goo facilities, safe practices, and of course friendly Cook Islands hospitality.

We highly recommend that visitors use their services.

Visitor Information Centre

When in the Cook Islands you can find our Visitor Information Centres on Rarotonga, Aitutkai and Atiu.

Visit our friendly team for more information on things to do, places to eat, cultural experiences, travel to the Pa Enua and events happening on the island.

Opening Hours


Monday to Friday 8am-4pm

Saturday 10am-1pm


Monday to Friday 8am-4pm


Monday to Friday 9am-1pm

How to Contact Cook Islands Tourism?

Cook Islands Tourism has offices in Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu and combined office for New Zealand and Australia based in Auckland.

We also have in-market representatives for the Americas, Northern Europe, Southern Europe and the United Kingdom.

Cook Islands


PO Box 14, Rarotonga +682 29435


PO Box 3, Aitutaki +682 31767


+682 33435



+64 9 366 1106


+64 9 366 1106





VISITOR GUIDE | www . m u r i b e a c h c l u b h o t e l. com Phone 23000 to book The Spa

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Articles inside

A new bestselling book about the Cook Islands, written

page 74

Rarotonga Airport Departures & Arrivals

page 73

An eco-lovers little paradise … Atiu, the land of birds

page 62

Some insider tips on Aitutaki

pages 60-61

Coral restoration project launched to help revive Aitutaki’s marine ecosystem

pages 58-59

Aitutaki Day Tour

pages 56-57

The vital nature of regenerative tourism

page 55

A Young American Working in Paradise

pages 53-54

Some of the best spas in the South Pacific are in the Cook Islands

pages 50-52

Inspired by traditional, scientifically-proven, Cook Islands regenerative medicines

page 49

Five ways to keep fit on Rarotonga

pages 48-49

The man behind Pa’s Cross-Island Trek

page 47


pages 45-46

Adventures In Paradise OFFSHORE ADVENTURES

page 44

Island Life

page 43

Golf in the Cook Islands. That’s a gimme.

page 41

A Q&A with Corrina Tucker from Storytellers Eco Cycling & Walking Tours

page 40

Featured Eating & Drinking Places

pages 29-37

Island Show

page 26

Kikau Hut, an island gem!

page 25

there’s a whole lot of shakin going on!

pages 22-23

Te Ipukarea Society’s work is never ending but vital to Cook Islands’ ecosystems

pages 19-21

Island Life Supporting tamariki in education, culture and sport

pages 14-18

Tourism Cook Islands Tourism, the shape of things to come!

pages 12-13

Need to know!

page 11


page 10

Experience the distinctive sound of Coco House Bros; you won’t regret it!

page 8

"Turou oro mai"

page 7
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