October 28th, 2019
For some of us, the ideal holiday is lying on the beach and sipping cocktails, but others may feel like a little bit of adventure. Luckily, Rarotonga ticks both boxes with plenty of outdoor activities to entertain the active-relaxers who come here for a holiday. Besides tours and organised activities, there are also options for heading out around the island without a guide. Here are some top local activities we recommend to visitors who want to get out and explore the island on their own.
One of the main on-land activities we recommend to visitors is the ancient track known as the Cross-Island Walk, which takes you from the town (Avarua) side of Rarotonga over the highlands to the South Coast, or vice-versa.
The locals traditionally lived in the highlands before Christian missionaries convinced them to move to the coast (evidence of this highland culture still exists on the island, visit the Highland Paradise cultural show to find out more). In the interior of the bush you will find the island's native flora, compared to the coast where the island has been overwhelmed by introduced species.
This walk is both rewarding and challenging, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. The walk takes 2-3 hours depending on your level of fitness, with some parts an easy meander through tropical rainforest and then a few areas of climbing up and over tree roots and large rocks (not too tricky). At the top, you will reach Te Rua Manga aka ‘the Needle’, the highest point on Rarotonga. Here you will be rewarded with lovely views looking across the Island.
Don’t forget to take lots of water, this is a tropical island and it can get very hot. Also, pack insect repellant and wear adequate walking shoes, the track can get quite slippery after rain, so good shoes are a must.
For instructions to the track, talk to our helpful team at Polynesian Rental Cars and Bikes.
Snorkelling the Reef
There are many amazing snorkelling experiences all around the Island and with a surrounding barrier reef protecting most beaches, and warm tropical water, you can easily spend a few hours floating amongst the stunning coral and tropical fish.
Some of the best places to snorkel include Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve (beside The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium), Muri Lagoon, Fruits of Rarotonga in Tikioki (one of the Marine Parks of Rarotonga) and Black Rock.
If you forgot to pack a snorkel and mask don’t worry, most resorts usually loan out sets to guests or you can hire some from the snorkel and dive shops around the Island.
Please be aware, the lagoon surrounding Rarotonga does contain the odd poisonous fish, namely scorpionfish, stonefish and lionfish, and occasionally they do lurk under the sand. To avoid getting stabbed by their poisonous fins, make sure you wear reef shoes when walking through the shallows and fins when snorkelling. We recommend fins to help you move with ease through the water, especially if there's any current.
Also, please be respectful to the marine environment, do NOT stand on rocks or corals, even when wearing reef shoes and do not feed the fish.
From $12 a day, hiring a bike from one of our depots is both an eco-friendly and economical option to see the sites around the Island and the great part is our roads are flat and paved the whole way around the island’s 32-kilometre perimeter.
On a bike, you will notice more of the island’s hidden treasures, like secret waterfalls and secluded beaches, compared to the cars and scooters that whizz by them. We also recommend getting off the main road and exploring the inner roads of the Island. Here you will see local crops and plantations, pigs, chickens, craft shops, fruit stalls and much more.
As the island is only 32km in circumference it won’t take you too long to cycle around the whole of the island, but be aware, it can get pretty hot in summer so take plenty of water and your swimming gear, and make sure you have regular breaks and cool off at some of the stunning beaches along your way.
Even though there's not much crime on the island, it's advisable not to leave valuables and clothes unattended on the beach or in your rental car and scooter. Scooters are easily broken into so we also advise people not to leave valuables locked under the seat either.