Shimmering turquoise waters, jaw-dropping snorkelling, donuts (so good, they deserve their own post), sunsets that'll make your eyes water and some of the most beautiful people you will ever meet. Oh, and did I mention the donuts?
Here are your top tips for getting the most out of your trip to this south pacific paradise:
Sounds obvious but so many people miss out on the best snorkelling in Rarotonga - simply by not knowing where to go. If you're serious about seeing fish - of every variety possible - head to "The Dive Centre" on Aorangi beach (next to The Rarotongan).
Head out on to the beach and you'll notice a horse shoe type coral garden. Follow it around and the best snorkelling is at the reef's edge. You won't regret it. So many people make the mistake of staying near the shore. Head to the reef - that's where the majority of the fish live!
Show me the best snorkelling location on google maps
The Punanga Nui Market is held in Avarua from 8am every Saturday. Who doesn't love a good market!? It brings the entire island together to showcase the best of its fruit, veggies, arts, craft, good coffee and DONUTS (more on them later).
Show me the Punanga Nui Market on google maps
Probably one of the most memorable experiences of our trip. The Rarotonga people welcome foreign visitors every Sunday to churches all around the island and will sing their hearts out for you. It is simply beautiful.
All the visitors are then invited to eat food with the congregation afterwards - don't miss this, as the food is brilliant and the people are divine.
WATCH THE SUNSET
Head out to a place called 'Black Rock' aptly named for it's huge black boulders that heat up during the day for the perfect warm seat to watch the sun set from. Make your way there about an hour before sunset, have a swim - then relax and dry off on the rocks.
At sunset, you'll be treated to a sensational show, where the crimson sky reflects on the calm turquoise lagoon and the fishermen looking for their evenings catch, create the perfect photo opportunity.
Show me Black Rock on google maps
We're not donut lovers - but oh my dear god - we tasted what has to be one of the best donuts on earth here.
Here is all you need to know:
LBV Bakery (shop in Muri and Avarua townships and also at the Saturday Market).
Go early - yes, a donut for breakfast is completely fine when they're straight out of an oven.
Get the custard flavour and you'll never look at a donut in the same way again.
Show me the main LBV Bakery on google maps
Every Wednesday morning in the Muri Lagoon you can take part in paddle board yoga.
If you love Yoga - this is a must. If you don't, then try it any way because it's seriously fun..ny. You'll get further than you ever thought possible and a perfect way to start the day.
Book your spot at the Muri Night Market which is on every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night from 5pm. The owner also runs a healthy food stall - you'll see his signs!
Explore the inner ring road, passing papaya plantations, schools, coconut groves and head up to a beautiful viewpoint from the islands hospital. You'll be dodging chicken, dogs and pigs so the going is slow but makes for fun sight-seeing.
A scooter is a great way to get around the island to discover a few lesser known spots like waterfalls, walking tracks and beautiful swimming spots.
At the eastern end of Rarotongas runway there's a driveway where you can get right behind a massive jet as it starts to takes off.
Very few places in the world still let you get this close and for good reason because it can be extremely dangerous!
Rebellious? Hang on to the fence tightly or you WILL fly away (unless you really went overboard with the donuts).
Check the airport website for departures - you'll also need a westerly wind to ensure the plane takes off in the right direction.
NB: three tourists were injured doing this in 2015, so in all seriousness - treat with extreme caution!
Take a look at the map below to see how close you get:
Show me where to find the jet blast area on google maps
MUST KNOW TIPS
If you're still reading - you deserve these insider tips for your next trip to this island paradise:
The donuts are cheaper at the Saturday market than the actual LBV bakery cafe (same donuts - made by the same people - but they reduce their prices so they're more affordable for the locals.
If you're after some healthy brown bread, there is a stall at the Saturday market that sells all different types of sourdough. Also - their portugese tarts (OMG) - get in early because they sell out, and you won't find brown bread anywhere else on the island!!
The best coffee in Rarotonga is from the Waffle shack - also at the saturday market.
Quite possibly the worlds best brownie from a ‘health food’ cafe can be found at the Saturday market. Called Body Fuel.
The cheapest car rental is from a company called Eric Short Rentals. $35 a day including insurance. All other car companies charge a similar price, but then charge HEAPS of hidden extras.
Bring earplugs. The island's roosters wake up at 3am and think you should too. They are everywhere!!
Don't do the cross island trek - it's rough and not worth it (and we love walks). A better alternative is to climb to the Needle (a huge ancient rock perched on top of the tallest mountain). Again - don't continue across the island (cross island trek) as it's not particularly scenic and there are thousands of mosquitos!
If you DO decide to do the cross island trek - take insect repellent.