We stayed for 12 nights in one of the garden units that are situated around the pool. Our room had everything that we needed - kitchenette with small fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, dishes, utensils, etc., a table and 4 chairs, dresser and bedside tables, small closet with lockable security box and shelving space in the bathroom also. The room was bright and had several windows for ventilation. We were only a 1 minute walk across the road (which was never busy) to the beach and some fabulous snorkellling. We had a little patio outside our room with a table and chairs where we could read when it was raining (we had alot during our stay) or eat meals prepared in our room. There was a clothesline on each patio. Beach towels were provided in the room. The bathroom had a stand-up shower, hair dryer and fresh towels were provided each day if you wanted. Soap, shampoo and hair condiioner were in the room on our arrival, but were not replaced (we had our own and maybe that is why). There was a ceiling fan which kept our room comfortable and we did not need to use the air conditioning at all. There was always a nice breeze through the windows and sliding patio door.
From the time we landed in paradise and were picked up at the airport by Nga, to the time we left this island, the service and attitude of everyone we encountered made us want to stay forever. Paula, Mata, Mary and Norleen in the kitchen and dining room made our dining experiences pleasant. Kura at the reception desk was invaluable in helping us book day trips, decide on where to go for island night, helping us check our return flight home, and in answering many of our questions. The managers Joanne & Nga were on-site frequently and very approachable as was Betsy, the owner.
We found the tropical breakfast included with our package to be everything that we needed. There was a good variety of cereal (2 types of muesli and at least 2 other choices or more), beautiful selection of fresh fruit (bananas, coconut, papaya, mango, guava, custard apple, starfruit), bread for toast, jam, marmalade, peanut butter, butter, marmite, juices, tea and coffee. All of this in a pleasant open-air dining room where you can look at the beautiful landscaping of the resort and even see across the road to the beach. There were also several options for cooked breakfasts (at a reasonable additional charge) if you wished.
The dinner menu had a good variety, but unfortunately there were a few items missing during our stay. However, we always found something to eat and the fresh fish dishes were always delicious.
Wigmore's Supermarket is just a 5 minute walk to the right when you leave the parking area. They have some freshly prepared meals (curried chicken, chicken chop suey, etc.) and some great desserts (chocolate cake and coconut pineapple cake) if you want to eat in your room without cooking. The prices were reasonable and the food was very good.
Happy hour was a very generous gesture on the part of the resort and we enjoyed the entertainment by Rose & Tani, especially the island dance that Rose did for us. The Sunday night BBQ was delicious, but we would agree with other guests that it is a little overpriced ($30 NZ per person). The choice was steak (very good) or fish (broadbill the night we had it which was excellent) and lovely salads.
The property is kept very clean and the landscaping is very attractive. We found the whole island to be lush with plants, flowers and trees and the beautiful green peaks in the center of the island seemed so close that you could touch them.
We enjoyed the resort pets - Polly the dog and Palmy the calico cat, both of which were super friendly and gave us our "pet fix" while missing our own animals back home. There are several dogs in the area which have their own territory on the beach. They are all owned by someone and were all well cared for. They are all friendly and wander on and off the resort.
We used the buses to get around the island and found them very easy to use. We got the 10 trip pass ($25 NZ) and got everwhere that we needed to go. You can use the designated bus stops to get on or off, but you can also flag down a bus anywhere on the route or request to be dropped off at other than set stops.
We visited the Panangi Nui market on Saturday in town that we would highly recommend, did a 4 x 4 Safari Tour with Tangaroa Tours (with Mr. Useless, who was absolutely hilarious), went to church with Victoria who owns the Green House Cafe just down the road from the resort, a 5 minute walk to the left when you leave the front parking area), did the day trip to Aitutaki (expensive but worth it to see the most beautiful lagoon and the islands in it), did an island night at Highland Paradise and generally made our way around the island.
We snorkelled out front of the hotel which was excellent. We also found good snorkelling across the road from Fruits or Rarotonga (you can leave your belongings at the cafe while you snorkel). At both locations we saw large schools of beautiful parrot fish, sargent majors, wrasses, picasso triggerfish, moorish idols, puffer fish, assorted other fish that we don't know the names of, an octopus, an eel and the most beautiful sapphire blue starfish. We snorkelled out to one of the islands at Muri Beach but here wasn't much to see underwater. When we snorkelled in the lagoon on the island of Aitutaki, we saw giant clams.
We tried a variety of restaurants and cafes on the island and found everything to be fresh, delicious, nicely presented and portions were generous. We did not find the prices to be expensive considering the quality (and in comparison with our prices back home in Canada). Some of the places we tried and would recommend are Garden House Cafe (just a 10 minute walk to the left of the hotel), Maire Nui Gardens (try their delicious chocolate cake), Vaima Restaurant (just down from Wigmore's Supermarket and about a 10 minute walk from the hotel) where we sat right on the beach, Tamarind House near town (beautiful setting, classy restaurant and delicious food especially their chocolate pudding cake), Kikau Hut (our favourite restaurant on the island with delicious food and unique desserts and super friendly owners Kevin & Cathy), Cafe Salsa in the town of Avarua, The Cafe at the art gallery for the best cappucino we have ever tasted and good desserts too, Sails Restaurant on Muri Beach and ,as mentioned, Yellow Hibiscus at Palm Grove. We also had some good food from the stalls at the market - chicken curry with rice, mongolian chicken, both of which were very generous portions for very little money. There is a little coffee stand on the road in front of the market that has the best coffee.
We had a hard time leaving Rarotonga and would definitely return if we found a great deal like the one that brought us here in the first place. It was worth the almost 15 hour flight from Canada. Palm Grove resort is in a perfect location, approximately half way around the island from town and on a great beach. Everything that we needed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set in the enchanting area of Vaimaanga on the stunning southern coast, Palm Grove enjoys the tranquility of one of the best locations on Rarotonga. 26 individual bungalows are scattered over 5 acres of landscaped beachfront and garden property. Bungalows are available in studio to 3-bedroom layout and feature kingsize beds, kitchen facilities, aircon, flatscreen TV, and private patio/balcony. Property amenities include our onsite restaurant and bar, swimming pool, guest BBQ, laundry facility, tour desk, and motorbike rentals. All guests receive complimentary daily tropical breakfast buffet and use of kayaks, snorkel equipment, beach chairs and beach towels. Welcome to Palm Grove, your private piece of paradise! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Palm Grove Hotel Vaimaanga
- Palm Grove Rarotonga, Cook Islands