We have just returned from our trip to the Cook Islands. The first days after our arrival we stayed in the Paradise Inn hotel which is located just near the centre of Avarua. We booked this place because we didn't want to miss the Te Maeva Nui, the great annual dance and music festival. From the Paradise Inn, which in ancient days used to be the largest dance hall in the country but now is restyled in a hotel with ten reasonably quiet lofty rooms, it's only a five minutes walk to the new auditorium, which now is the largest building in the country (with incredably hollow acoustics, but nobody seems to bother). The walk to 'downtown' Avarua takes only ten minutes. When you are in the lazy mood you can take the bus which stops just in front of the hotel. A secret tip: hitchhiking is really easy-going on Rarotonga. If it's not the first, the second car will stop for you and the driver will be most curious about your adventures. The Cook islanders are so nice! After a 'busy' day it's great to enter your studio in the Paradise Inn, it's spacy, beautiful and very clean (no insects). It offers also a well equiped kitchen. You can do your shoppings at the saturday market (good for vegetables, local parafernalia and Noni juice) or in the huge Foodland supermarket. Food is extremely expensive on the Cook Islands. Except for ice cream: four fat scoops of best quality icecream almost for nothing. If there's less time for shopping: the neighbours of the Paradise Inn have a small shop which is open even on sundays. Dont forget to visit a church on sunday, the Cook Islanders are great singers. (In church they sing in multiple voices!). We booked a room on the west side of the hotel because we read in stories and reviews from guests who suffered from noises on the east side. Of course we checked this out but all you hear are chickens and dogs and it was not to bad at all. These animals are all around the island. The owner and his wife are very friendly, relaxed and helpfull people. They absolutely make you feel very welcome. They offer a good service. In the hotel is an enormous lounge where you can watch tv, play your 'just bought , can't wait' CD or DVD with Cook Island music, or just relax. There is a self-service bar with an honesty box. Ain't that great, not much places in the world offer so much confidence!
On the seaside the hotel has a luxurious veranda which overlooks the darkblue ocean. In August you can spot humpback-whales. You must be lucky, we saw none (but at least we spotted two falling stars!).
Near Blackrock, a granite rocky shore opposite the airport, we saw two whales playing and making great splashes of water with their fins. So we hadl uck, but from there the edge of the reef is far off, from the Paradise Inn it's only 35 meters. You can also descent the veranda to the white sandy beach, surrounded with palmtrees. The beach is not as beautiful as the beaches of Aitutatki (white sand with lots of rock and stones) but walking on it will certainly give you that bounty-feeling. In August you have the best chance to see the sun but due to the winter season the seawater is very chilly. Actually to cold to stay in for a long snorkletrip.
In August there are less flowers on the island but we preferred the sun. If you like plants and gardens be sure to visit the Highland Paradise botanical gardens, on your own or in a tour. It's situated on a high hill overlooking the Rarotongan east coast. It has a rich variety of polynesian plants and you can walk through the ruins of an old Maori village. If you still want more plants (which we did) book the cross-island track and encounter the giant ferns which grow between the ancient polynesian chestnut-trees. The walk offers quite a few plants and trees but not many views on the island. Therefore the spot near 'the Needle' is a revelation. You'll never feel lonely in the Paradise Inn hotel, their pets prevent you from that, specially the deaf old cat Oskar. He's deaf but has a good nose for all kinds of food.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.