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“Very good value but not we were not comfortable”

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Rarotonga Backpackers
Hampshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
28 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Very good value but not we were not comfortable”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 31, 2010

We stayed at beachfront for one night then hillside for 3 nights. Arrived in Rarotonga at 2.30am and the humidity was hard to handle. We stayed in basic room in beachfront complex and the bed was comfortable but walls were dirty. Shared bathroom was quite grimy. Pool was good and enjoyed swimming in sea and lying in shade.

Gifts of fresh fruit was a lovely gesture - star fruit and pawpaw

On our return from Aitutaki we stayed at the hilliside.The pool here was refreshingly cold but made the skin on my legs tight. We were booked in for basic room but were given an ensuite cabin with kitchen and insect screens. There was a deck with views of local vegetation. We were really impressed by this. Unfortuantely this joy didnt last when we got bitten by ants and what looked like fleas. In addition the bed, pillows and linen smelt awful, damp i guess. I appreciate that humidity and insects come as part of the package in the Cook Islands but we didnt sleep well at all and had heaps of bites.

The host was very helpful with advice on places to eat and best places to go

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mini026
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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168 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 19, 2010

Friendly people, beautiful location. I stayed in a single room at the beachfront house, and I had a great time. I found the place safe and friendly. Some people might complain about the state of the kitchen or bathrooms, which could be improved, but I wouldn't expect much more from a budget backpackers in Rarotonga.

The single room was OK, I had the fan turned on for sleeping so I didn't really suffer the heat, and the mosquito nets were in perfect condition so I had no insects at all in the room. The room can get quite hot in the afternoon, but I wasn't interested in spending time there at that time of the day! I'd rather be at the beach or by the swimming pool!

About the environment and the people there, I have to say that I found a really friendly & tranquil atmosphere. It was a great place for meeting people, socializing while having dinner at the tables outside, and staying there chatting to fellow travelers for hours. I got to share some tropical fruit with other backpackers, and a British couple even taught me how to open a coconut just taken from the beach. But there was never late loud parties at night, so I never had problems sleeping there.

The only downside I could find, is that the beach on which the hostel is located is not good for swimming because it's full of rocks. Nevertheless, there's a little spot there in which you can go and sit in the water and refresh yourself. Besides, the feeling of getting out of bed and seeing that you have the beach just there is fantastic!

There's Aro'a beach only 25 minutes away walking, which is one of the best spots for snorkeling on the island. If you want to go to Muri, which I think is a much nicer beach (with the four motus), but not as good as Aro'a for snorkeling, you can either catch the bus or hire a scooter.

There is a grocery only a few 200 meters away, which is practical, but there aren't any big supermarkets nearby.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay. However, if you're too worried about staying at an immaculate place, I would recommend paying a little bit more and staying somewhere else. If you're into loud late night parties, or you want to be located at Muri beach, then you might choose Vara's, but if you're the more relaxed sort of guy, that wants to have a good time and take it easy, you might consider this place as the best option.

Stayed March 2010, traveled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank FedericoB2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
89 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 22, 2010

When choosing a hostel or any type of budget accommodation in Rarotonga, the main island in the Cook Islands, there isn't a huge range to pick from. I can't remember what made us go for Rarotonga Backpackers, but whatever it was, I'm so glad we did as we had the best time there.

~ Arrival ~
On our arrival at the airport, which was at a disgustingly horrible time in the morning, we were surprised, but so relieved, to find that someone from the backpackers actually picked us up. Whatever time you arrive they will be there to welcome you and to take you to the hostel.

We were shown into our room and didn't really take any notice of anything as we were kind of mucked up on time flying from New Zealand as the time is so different that we ended up living the same day twice! The next morning we took a look around and it really is a lovely place.

~ The Hostel ~
The hostel takes up a fair bit of space even though there aren't that many rooms so it's not too noisy a place to stay. There's a pretty little garden at the front and a drive which keeps a couple of cars and scooters on it for you to hire out. The reception area is just like a tiny little port-cabin which is host to the reception desk, lots of DVDs and books to hire as well as snorkelling equipment which you can borrow for no charge. Behind the reception room is the main part of the hostel which hosts a communal area, a few dorm, single and double rooms, and the kitchen. The communal area is pretty big and has four big comfy sofas, a large TV, computers with internet access and a pool table. The kitchen is also pretty big and has everything you need to make your own food as well as plenty of take away menus and a phone available for you to use with free local calls.

Outside the kitchen is a lovely decking area where you can either relax on the sunbeds or take a dip in the pool or do some laundry if needs be. Steps leading down from the pool take you directly onto the sandy beach. On the beach there are several more rooms which are obviously the most expensive ones in the hostel, being on the beach front, but if you have the extra money to spend, they really are worth the treat.

~ Rooms ~
We made friends with lots of people here so we got to check out all the different types of rooms that everyone was staying in. The dorms are nice enough - not too squashed but I would have thought it would get pretty hot in there when full. They may also be a little too close for comfort if you had to share with the opposite sex. The standard doubles are fairly big but very basic. We stayed in a standard double and all we had was a no-frills bed and a bedside table each. There was nothing fancy about it and we did ask to change rooms seeing as it was the last place on our 5 month trip, but no other rooms were available. In the end though, we hardly spent any time in the room so this didn't really matter to us at all. The double rooms with ensuite bathrooms are near the reception area and are also a kind of port-cabin with patio doors and a small separate room with a toilet and shower.

The huts and bungalows on the beach front are the best of all though. As the beach slopes down to the sea, the very front rooms are on pillars so you have to climb up some stairs to get to the room, which means that there's a balcony at the front, overlooking the sea. The room opens up with patio doors into a large open area which has a large double bed, a small kitchen with microwave, oven, toaster, kettle and all the cutlery and crockery that you need, and then a separate room with a very plush shower and toilet. You get your own TV and DVD player in these rooms and they really do feel like luxury. A couple we made friends with were upgraded to this room and so about nine of us spent the night in there watching DVDs, making food, and drinking and playing games on the table on the balcony. A few steps down onto the beach below, there's a hammock underneath the room, a rope swing to play around on, and the beautiful sea literally a few feet away.

The bathrooms for those who aren't in an ensuite room are fairly standard but not at all dirty. They have a separate guys and gals shower and they had about 3 individual showers in the gals ones. If you're having a shower at night you should be aware that each separate shower has its own little window - no one can see in but when the lights are on all the creepy crawlies are attracted to the light so make sure you shut the window in there before turning the light on.

~ The Weird and Wonderful ~
A couple of strange things about the hostel is that, in the garden, there are random chickens walking around (don't ask me who they belonged to) and the roosters are very noisy in the morning which does get a little annoying if you want a lay in. Another strange and slightly creepy thing is the fact that the garden is also home to a couple of buried bodies. It's not a cemetery, there are only a couple of people buried there with headstones - don't ask me where the people came from either, they had nothing to do with the hostel owners - just as mysterious as the chickens! At first this is really weird but after taking a quick bus trip around the island, you realise that these are all over the place buried in every house's garden simply because there isn't enough space to bury every resident of Rarotonga in a proper cemetery!

There are a couple of cats and a huge dog that make the hostel their home and they all love to snuggle up in the lounge and watch the DVDs with you.

~ Staff and Activities ~
The owner and all the rest of the staff were so friendly and they were brilliant with giving us advice on things to do and places to go.

They have a notice board up in the communal area which details the different activities you can take part in every day and I'd recommend doing some of them as they're all fantastic and great value. Some of these include a cheap BBQ on a certain night of the week where the food is all cooked for you and you can help yourself to as much food or yummy punch as you like. You can go to church on Sunday morning and this was a great experience to see into the local way of life and to see all the Cook Island folk singing away really loudly. There's also the hostel's shuttle which will take you and pick you up from anywhere on the island at whatever time of night including to some of the best bars, nightclubs and traditional dancing shows which all have to be tried out. During the day the bus stops directly outside the hostel and this goes round and round the island's only road throughout the day so it's perfectly easy to get anywhere and only a 10 minute ride into the main part of town.

As I said, part of the hostel is actually on the beach so whether you want the sea or a swimming pool, you don't need to go further than down a few steps. This part of the beach is very quiet and I don't think we saw more than a couple of people on it the whole time we were there, as the hostel is mostly surrounded by homes. The sea here isn't the best place to swim in as it can get very choppy but the 'official' beach is just a 10 minute bus ride away.

~ Overall ~
Part of the reason why we loved the place so much was because we made some wonderful friends here but focusing on the hostel itself I still can't really think of anything negative to say about it. The only thing which some people may not like is that there are small gaps under the bedroom doors and, being very close to the beach, we did have a visitor one night - one of those little opaque coloured crabs. All I could hear was this clicking noise as it snapped it claws together and getting it out was so bloody hard as it would never go in the right direction to the door because the stupid thing only walks sideways!

Overall, this place made a lovely stay for us on our last stop on a 5 month trip, and I'm so glad we stayed here. It felt so homely and comfortable right from the off, especially as you have to take your shoes off inside the hostel. Not a single thing could have made it better.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank MrsAylasAdventures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Level Contributor
100 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 19, 2009

We spent a total of 5 nights with Rarotonga Backpackers - two nights at the beachside location and 3 nights at the hillside location.

>Beachside: I don't think I would go back to the beachside location. It was really noisy (got woken up at 2am one night) and the kitchen was terrible. It was small, dirty and did not have a great stock of supplies. The location was lovely as it's really close to the beach - and if you get the villa/bungalow rooms they are pretty much on the beach. Definitely not much of a swimming beach but we didn't really see any beaches that were great for swimming on Rarotonga - most had coral or rocks everywhere. The pool was ok but we didn't end up using it. The room was pretty typical as were the bathrooms. Overall, just kind of felt like it wasn't super clean.

>Hillside: The hillside location was interesting. It had a great view and it was quite large. The pool was ok as well. The kitchen was big but also suffered from a lack of supplies. There was a common room that was quite big as well. We ended up in poolside room which meant that it was built into the side of the hill so the room smelled really "earthy" and it was pretty dark. The room was tiny. The water randomly stopped working while we were there. Like in the middle of a shower and it wouldn't come back on for an hour or so. Possibly just an island issue and maybe not a specific plumbing issue at the hostel. Not sure - the staff weren't around very often to ask if anything went wrong.

Overall, they are budget places to stay so you get a budget stay. Transportation on the island is difficult as there weren't really taxis and there is a bus but it runs maybe hourly, of half-hourly I can't remember. They charge you to bring your luggage on the bus too! We tried to ask the hostel to take us to the ariport but they said they didn't run their van unless it was full.

Don't think I would stay again at either location as we had a much better experience at the Aremango Guesthouse - yeah it was maybe $20 more a night but it felt worth it after we stayed at these hostels.

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank teamBCtravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Shore
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 19, 2009

Have just returned from a week in the Beachhouse, part of Raro Backpackers but 500 metres from the main complex.
Just metres away from the water this 'bach' had everything one could need for down to earth R and R. Basic but comfortable with the ability to sleep 6, it has one bedroom downstairs and one upstairs in the loft (not good after a few cocktails) and another double in an alcove off the living area.
Good size living and dining areas plus deck for outdoor sitting/dining/relaxing. DVD player and TV although TV only gets 2 channels one of which is the worship channel. DVDs are available at the main complex.
Kitchen has full size gas stove and oven though no microwave. good size fridge only - no freezer although it works so efficiently you can keep your slicker/coolie pads frozen by putting them right at the back in the fridge!
Of course there are the obligatory dogs, hens, roosters and occasional cockroach but they all come with the territory and they were all quiet - no barking, no crowing.
Great snorkelling a couple of hundred metres along the beach and 2.5km just before the Rarotongan Resort amazing snorkelling about 100 metres out. Whats more you can enjoy some of the activities there as well - they don't seem to mind.
Food and drink - took quite a bit- cheese, pork, chicken etc. Fresh fruit and vege avail locally when in season. Crisps at $4.50 per packet there are a luxury and Diabetic Tonic Water for G nT's not available. Had a good meal at the Point (Muri Beach) and wonderful buffet and show at the Rarotongan $65 but well worth it.
Pita and Paul Raro Backpackers hosts went out of their way to help even providing a hook to go Eke (Octopus) hunting at low tide and Puna introduced us to Coconut "candyfloss"
Would definitely stay there again thanks to the hospitality shown by all the staff there.

Helpful?
Thank NorthShoreBeachbum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
97 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 1, 2009

We stayed with the Rarotonga backpackers for nearly a week. We rented their beach villan and were very happy with it. We had two bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge and dining area. Outside was a barbecue area and we had our own beach frontage. It is not a swimming beach but you can enjoy beautiful sunsets. The beach is full of life, little crabs, fish and much more. Kayaks can be rented just a bit further along.
The backpackers "headoffice" has a swimming pool and regular party's that you can join. We did not make use of these but did visit them a number of times for information or a quick dip in the pool.
It is not Muri Beach, and it is not touristy. The bus stops at the end of the driveway and for this reason you are not very far away from the touristy things. If you want to rent a car you need to "get" a Rarotonga licence. In peak season it is handy to reserve a car before you arrive. Getting a licence can take some time as well.
Across the road from the driveway is a little shop where you can buy groceries. It is very expensive because a lot of the things need to be imported from New Zealand. As it was not our first visit we actually took a lot of things with us. We took muesli and a means of making your own yoghurt. Some tins with meat for our evening meals. It made our RTW a lot more affordable.
We were very happy with Rarotonga Backpackers and would certainly stay again.
If you turn left on the beach you will find another hotel where they have a bar and restaurant with fairly cheap meals.

  • Stayed January 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Polly0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aotearoa
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 22, 2009

we stayed at the rarotonga backpackers for 9 nights - the communication for the booking was very prompt and well organised - someone picked us up from the airport around midnight - the transport wasn't exactly luxurious (a rust bucket van with a window missing in the back - so don't lean back ! - and a few loose benches to sit on) but it did the job

we had the beachfront bungalow and we were very very happy with it - it was right on the beach - it had a very nice balcony looking out over the lagoon with simple table and chairs - a small washing line - inside it had insect screens - a comfy made up double bed - towels - very spacious room - a small TV and DVD player (DVD player worked all good - but could only receive a jesus channel) - you can get DVD's for $3 at the office - ceiling fan - decent kitchen with gas hobs - all pots and pans, cutlery, jug, toaster, fridge etc there

decent bathroom - clean toilet, shower, basin - the shower had nice hot water on sunny days thanks to the solar power on the roof - there was this button to push on cloudy days to heat the water but it didn't really work for us - we didn't really mind - was nice to cool down

the beach was lovely but not a part of the beach where you would go swimming due to a large amount of rocks in the water and stone fish (Muri lagoon nicest spot for swimming) - but there is an area clear enough to sit in the water to cool off

we were advised to look the door at night due to "children" coming in during the night when you're asleep and stealing your stuff - this would mean dying of heat exhaustion during the night without that hopeful breeze coming through - instead we barricated ourselves in using the outside table and inside shelves - we didn't have any problems - there is a separate cupboard you to lock you valuables in using a padlock which we did use just to be safe

if you can afford it i would definitely go for the beachfront bungalows - $125 per night for the room (not per person) - the beach huts also looked nice but are behind the bungalows and no kitchen - the communal kitchen seemed ok (i didn't spend much time in it) - however the stray cats are quite helpful when it comes to cleaning bbq plates and cleaning out pots left on the stove - not overly hygienic

didn't see communal bathroom - toilets seemed ok - tv lounge looked quite nice - computer available (buy credit at office during office hours) - nothing flash but did the job

we had a couple of unwanted visitors in our kitchen - a couple of giant cockroaches ! it goes with the territory (warm climate) - but even so - unpleasant

we did 'captain tama's snorkelling tour' - really enjoyed it - only snorkelled for about 30 minutes - but great lunch on the beach and highly entertaining show - those guys are good for a laugh !

also did 'raro safari tour' - was great ! again these guys has an amazing sense of humour - thanks to lots of rain the night before the roads were extra muddy which made for a thrilling ride !

also did the 'semi reef sub' - don't do this unless you have very very good sealegs !! we went out on a very calm day and it was still a nightmare for me ! $65 seemed a little expensive compared to the other tours we'd done

definitely get a scooter while you're there! ultimate freedom - great way to cool down - we loved buzzing around the island - plenty of decent cafes and supermarkets - i got one from the backpackers which wasn't exactly a great example of a good scooter - my partner got a scooter from 'tipani' scooters down the road - same price ($100 for the week) and a much better condition

we did the island night with dinner ($35) at the staircase - dinner was a la carte (most are buffets at the resorts) - food was very nice - show was great ! about half the price of most resorts

i've rambled on enough - enjoy rarotonga - it's a great place !!

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CindyfromNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rarotonga Backpackers

Property: Rarotonga Backpackers
Address: PO Box 3103, Arorangi, Cook Islands
Location: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Rarotonga > Arorangi
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Arorangi
Number of rooms: 63
Also Known As:
Rarotonga Backpackers Hotel Arorangi
Rarotonga Backpackers Cook Islands

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