Five nights was definately not long enough, but travelling for the first time to the Cook Islands it gave us a good taste and we will definately be back for more.
We arrived with Air New Zealand on the 27th of October in the late afternoon (flights carefully selected as we wanted to arrive at nice hours!).... we were some of the first passengers off the plane, hit Duty Free and patiently queued to clear Customs and collect our three pieces of luggage(3 adults travelling together)... Two pieces arrived... we waited... and waited... and realised the third piece was defiantely not there... and upon speaking to the Air New Zealand staff member, our suitcase was enjoying its own holiday still in Auckland... luckily there was another Air NZ flight arriving early hours of the next morning so it was put on there and I was reunited with it the next morning.
We had prebooked a rental car with Island Car & Bike Hire as we didnt want to rely on the bus, nor use airport transfers and this worked out very well for us as they had a special on medium sized cars. As per their confirmation email, the car was in the carpark as they advised and off we went.
After a short 5 minute drive, we arrived at Edgewater Resort which was going to be our home away from home for the next five nights. I've posted a review seperately but we were very impressed with the three bedroom garden villas.
The following five days all had very similar itineraries... sleep in, eat breakfast at the resort, drive around and see what is happening/stop at places of interest, lunch, afternoon nap after eating too much at lunch, drinks on the patio watching the sunset and then head out for dinner.
We didnt do any tours, nor did we make it out to Aitutaki, so 5 days was the perfect amount of time to explore Rarotonga.
Thursday night dinner:
Vaima Restaurant - Vaimaanga
Great little restaurant. It has indoor and outdoor table options and the outdoor option has tables sitting in the sand – stunning location. Good range of cocktails and meals were very good.
All round great restaurant but book a table or get there early as it fills up quickly. Indoor and outdoor seating options, sit outside for a great view across the harbour. Great choice of salads & pizza. They also have a new restaurant ‘Bamboo Jacks’ which is just further past town.
Cafe Salsa – Avarua
Had crepes here for a light lunch option and then came back for dinner on Friday evening as they had live music (3 piece band singing easy listening music). Meals were superb.
Sails Restaurant – Muri Beach
Stunning location right on Muri beach. Option to dine indoors, or outdoors on the deck. Definitely sit outside as you look straight over Muri beach and out to the motu’s.
Island Night @ Edgewater – Arorangi
Buffet dinner and dessert with a lot of local foods to try including Poke and Ika Mata. Show was interesting and included young local children. Edgewater offers Island Nights on Tuesday & Saturday nights for $65.00 per person for dinner & show.
The Mooring – Muri Beach
It's not flashy - just a great little place (20 foot shipping container!) making good sandwiches, salads and smoothies. I had a fish sandwich (fresh Turkish bread) and the crumbed fish was just delicious - yummy sandwich of fresh tuna at one of the loveliest locations on the island and very cheap – around $10!
The Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar – Arorangi
Great setting and food! Ended up taking dramatic shots of the sunset here. Meal would be one of the best on the island. There were only 6 choices of mains on the menu plus the evening special, but the food was amazing!
Maire Nui Gardens - Hidden Spirit Café & Grill – Titikaveka
This little cafe is hidden within the lush green surroundings of the Maire Nui Gardens in Titikaveka (just around the corner from the Little Polynesian Hotel). All the food is organic (and most grown on site) and delicious! Salads were quite pricey at $18.50 but very filling and fresh.
Tumunu Tropical Garden Bar & Restaurant – Arorangi
A small restaurant located approx 700m from The Edgewater Resort & Spa. It had been recommended for its seafood meals – nice but more of a pub style meal. Indoor & outdoor garden seating available and the indoor restaurant had lots of memorabilia up on the walls & ceiling.
***Most restaurants charged around NZD$25 – NZD$30 for mains***
Shopping (and not that you go to Rarotonga for shopping):
Perfumes of Rarotonga Factory Shop – Airport
Discount store selling a range of locally made soaps & perfumes as well as jewellery and bits of clothing.
Punanga Nui Markets – Avarua
A great place to get shop and mingle with the locals is at the open air Punanga Nui Market that sits next to the Avatiu Wharf. This market also offers some delicious takeaway and local cuisine. Wednesday is arts and crafts day at the market, while Saturday is the biggest market day here with everyone bringing in their local produce to sell.
Avarua is the main shopping area on the island, and here you will find everything from cafes, banks and supermarkets to pharmacies, department stores and souvenir shops. Most stores are open from 9 am to 4 pm, while on Saturdays shops are open till just twelve noon.
There were a few shops at Muri Beach including a small boutique clothing shop called Blossoms which is run by a young Australian girl. She has a nice range of clothing from cheap singlet’s to party dresses, as well as jewellery and locally made moisturisers & soaps. Muri Beach also had a small duty free shop – Polynesian Tax & Duty Free.