Journey to a Polynesian Paradise on Our Cook Islands Cruises
Sure, Rarotonga may be the largest of the 15 Cook Islands. But with a circumference of just 20 miles (32 kilometres)—and a population that tops out at around 11,000—it remains one of the South Pacific’s most charming, friendly, and easy-to-explore places you could ever hope to discover.
First settled in the 6th century by the Polynesians, the Cook Islands received their namesake in the 1820s, following their own “discovery” by British explorer Captain James Cook. European missionaries soon arrived, and their influence can be seen throughout present-day Rarotonga, as the number of churches (and religions) is of near-biblical proportions.
For more divine encounters, simply flag a bus down. With virtually continuous service and two bus routes to choose from—clockwise and anti-clockwise—it’s a wonderful way to see Rarotonga. Get recommendations from entertaining bus drivers, and then get dropped off wherever you like.
Or downsize to two wheels and rent a bike to cycle the outer rim of the island. Pass by orchards and fields of everything from papayas to acai berries, then stop off at a secluded beach—pick a beach, any beach—for a refreshing dip during this downright heavenly Cook Islands cruise with Azamara®.
Jeep Safari Tour
Jeep Safari Tour
One of the best ways to thoroughly explore Rarotonga is via a jeep safari tour, which not only takes you around the circumference of the island, but up and over the top of it. Go to Wigmore’s Waterfall, through the Avatiu Valley rainforest, and on to Te Run Manga (The Needle), the highest point on the island.
With over 2,000,000 square kilometers of the Cook Islands’ surrounding waters declared a whale sanctuary, whale watching is quite common here—particularly in Rarotonga, where humpback whales gather during the migration season. In fact, they get so close, there’s a chance to spot them from shore.
Founded and run by two Rarotongan families, Matutu is the only brewery in the Cook Islands. Each of their three brews is handcrafted and bottled to order, since every component (except water) has to be imported. Stop in at the brewery for a tasting, or order a Matutu or two at one of the local restaurants or bars.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands At a glance