Back in New Zealand, listening to the rain, I can hardly believe we had such a lovely holiday at Moana Sands. We chose this hotel because it was one of the few places where we could stay right on the beach and have 3 adults in the room (including our teenage daughter): and what a beach it turned out to be!!
I'm quite sure that we had the best beach on Rarotonga. (It was certainly the best beach I saw as we wandered around the island.)
They gave us a room on the second floor. We walked in and just stood there, stunned by the incredible view from our balcony. We ate a lot of meals on our wonderful little balcony. Much can be achieved with a microwave and a frying pan, especially once we discovered that Wigmore's Superette had really nice fish packaged in small quantities, just right for three people.
The beds were extremely comfortable. We were grateful for the air conditioning and delighted to find that the TV was modern enough to take the cards from our cameras, so we could view each day's photos. Everything was spotlessly clean and it was lovely to have new beach towels each day.
The continental breakfast, included in the room price, proved to be more than adequate. Yes, it was limited but we loved the fresh fruit salad. The juice was delicious, and cereal and toast was all we needed. We were very happy with it.
But what makes Moana Sands so awesome is that beautiful fish come so close to the shore that even non-swimmers like me, can walk out into the water and feed them. It was pure joy to see them. It would be nice if Moana Sands had a fish chart in reception so that guests could identify them. (Just a thought.) Luckily our daughter had googled them and remembered a lot of the names. She bought a fish chart at the airport as we were leaving so in the end we managed to identify everything we saw. The water is always deep enough for a swim, even at low tide, and the beach chairs are comfortable if sunbathing is more your thing. The coral sand is soft and fine underfoot. There are bowls of water strategically placed for foot washing before going back into the rooms, so not too much sand gets in. I did notice a broom in one of the cupboards, but didn't need to use it because the cleaning ladies did such a good job.
We met people staying there who were back for their third or fourth visit, and it is easy to see why. The hotel staff are very willing to help with bookings and advice. The night manager, James, is perfect for the job, nothing is too much trouble, he remembers people's names and has the nicest smile. Having James meet you at the airport with a lei and a bottle of water, then effortlessly whisk you and your luggage back to the hotel is a great way to start your holiday.
I can also heartily recommend their Sunday BBQ. The food was delicious. We ate one night at the Sands Restaurant attached to, but not owned by, Moana Sands. Sadly, I can't recommend this as a good place to eat. It was the one place where we felt ripped off. The food was nice, but the wait was long, the amount on our plate pitiful and the price way too high for what we got. We left still hungry.
The Te Vara Nui Show and Buffet Dinner was marvellous, as was the Highland Paradise Sunset Feast and Show. They are so different that it is well worth going to both, but if I could only do one it would be Te Vara Nui (more food, better view, great performance). We also really enjoyed our day with Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruizes.
We were glad that we hired a car, as we felt that Moana Sands was quite a long way from most things. On the days when it was too windy to snorkel at Moana Sands we explored other parts of the island. The wind was a real nuisance, it stirred up the sand and made the water too murky to see the fish or the rocks! On our last day it was whipping the sand across the beach so much that it stung our legs. Luckily we had done our snorkelling early in the week when the weather was really lovely. That particular part of the island is very windy. If it is too windy at Moana Sands there is a public beach opposite the Big Fish Dive Centre that offers great snorkelling. It is the oldest fish reserve on Rarotonga so there are always lots of fish.
There is a beautiful church within walking distance of Moana Sands. My daughter and I went to church on Sunday (our last day). It was just as beautiful inside. The singing was wonderful and the service in English. We joined them for sandwiches and scones afterwards. There is also a garden and café within walking distance of the hotel. The café was only open about three days a week, but the garden was a delight. We photographed lots of flowers while my daughter fed the hens. There was also, inevitably, a friendly cat that seemed to live there most of the time.
There is a little grocery shop within walking distance, but we didn't go there, so I don't know how well stocked it is. Because we had a car and we were in town shopping for souvenirs, we went to the supermarket there. Food prices were high but we expected that and it was still cheaper than eating out every night. Don't miss the Saturday markets - lots of colour and music and a few good bargains.
But I can't finish a review on Moana Sands without mentioning the crabs. Whenever we could, we went down to the beach at night with a torch to watch the crabs come out to feed. It seemed like the whole beach was alive with little crabs scuttling down to the water. We were just fascinated.
We would gladly go back to Moana Sands if we are ever lucky enough to have another holiday in Rarotonga. We were all delighted with it. The Moana Sands Villas looked amazing, and would be lovely, I'm sure, but if you are on a tighter budget, the Beachfront Hotel is a great place to stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel, directly overlooking the idyllic Titikaveka Beach, features a variety of studios with stunning beachfront views. Evenings can be spent at Sands Restaurant & Bar and our popular Sunday night beach BBQ. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel And Villas
- Moana Sands Beachfront Titikaveka
- Hotel Moana Sands Beachfront
- Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Titikaveka