Cook Islands Rarotonga Resorts

The 10 Best Cook Islands Resorts in Rarotonga

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If you seek the island life, this ultimate guide to the best resorts in Rarotonga Cook Islands is for you!

And, honestly, it’s hard to make a better choice for an island resort destination than the Cook Islands.

Why?

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Planning a trip to the #CookIslands some time in the future? Then picking your resort is a very crucial choice to make. Whether you’re a newly-wed couple looking for your best honeymoon location or you’re someone who wants to treat their whole family to a nice vacation, this #TravelGuide on the best Cook Islands resorts in #Rarotonga has got you covered.
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Imagine what Hawaii was like before it became an array of mega resort hotels, Coach and Louis Vuitton stores and more concrete than sand.

Resorts in the Rarotonga offer the opportunity to enjoy modern luxury while still enjoying the authentic South Pacific Polynesian culture that the Cook Islands are known for.

I love the Cook Islands so much that I visit almost every year.

And I can tell you from personal experience that picking your resort is such a crucial part of planning a visit to the Cook Islands.

So, to help you out, I’ve pulled together this detailed guide to the 10 best Cook Island resorts.

Let’s dive in:

The 10 Best Cook Islands Resorts in Rarotonga

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Pacific Hotel (Best Resort for Couples)

aerial view of beach resort with palm trees and hills on the background
Photo Credit: Pacific Resort

Rarotonga has emerged as an ideal honeymoon location and several Rarotonga hotels and resorts make romance the focus of their luxury amenities.

Probably the best known of this selection of hotels lies on Muri Beach, a secluded lagoon full of sea life as well as plenty of water activities from glass bottom boat cruises to stand-up paddle boarding to snorkeling.

Pacific Hotel is a classic grande dame in the tropical sense, beautifully landscaped right down to the beaches with the private chairs and cabanas lined up for guests.

A full-service resort on the crystal clear aqua waters of the lagoon, the resort’s 64 rooms, suites and villas allow privacy and a staff that takes care of every whim, including organizing excursions like the cross island trek or snorkel daytrip. This Cook Islands resort also has its own glass bottom boat, nail salon and hairdresser.

Food and drink is excellent here and, wherever you stay on Rarotonga (or Raro) come for the happy hour at The Barefoot Bar directly on the beach with masterful cocktails at bargain prices.

Dine at the resort or restaurants nearby but the real draw in Muri Beach five nights a week is the Night Market. Locals serve up island food like the garlic shrimp at The Fish Man (a steal at NZ$12) or the amazingly creative cheesecakes at the dessert lady next door. Locals and visitors alike revel in these evening feasts of true island food.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Rumours Luxury Villa and Spa (Best Adults-Only Rarotonga Resort)

cushioned beach chairs with beach waters on the background
Photo Credit: Rumours

Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa is the ultimate in luxury set a little farther south on the Muri Beach Lagoon. Only seven villas furnished with elegance and indulgence in mind cater to the honeymooner or other discerning adults.

Villas have decks with gardens and private pools fed by waterfalls as well as views of the white sand lagoon Raro is famous for. Adults only and tucked away on a secluded cove, guests are greeted with a welcome “ei”, or head lei much like a flower crown, a gift basket of fruit and nibbles after their VIP airport transfer. Breakfast is delivered daily and kayaks and snorkel gear is complimentary.

Whether you stay at Rumours or another fabulous resort, don’t miss the Waterfall Spa at Rumours which is considered one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating experiences on Rarotonga.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Te Manava (Best Luxury Resort)

Also on the Muri Beach Lagoon and a sister property to Pacific Hotel, Te Manava Luxury Villas and Spa is designed for those who relish privacy and luxury as well as the amenities of a five star resort with the convenience of self-sufficiency.

A group of thirteen villas ranging from one to three bedrooms allow for a couple, a family or a group travelling together to enjoy a fully-equipped home while also having a fully-staffed hotel to take care of tourism and tour needs. Many excellent restaurants are nearby and a small grocery is not far away which allows for easy provisioning.

Of course, an on-site spa and plenty of beach activities doesn’t hurt the experience of five-star treatment without the pretension of a major resort setting.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Ikurangi Eco-Resort (Best Eco Resort)

luxury tent with small stairs and small garden at Ikurangi Eco-Resort Rarotonga

Dive into the luxurious raised tents here in this little nook of the jungle. Ikurangi Eco-Resort, while just off the main road, feels remote and secluded, nestled in a garden with views of Mount Ikurangi.

The Luxury Safari Tents at this top Rarotonga resort have comfortable king size beds with bamboo linens are accessed through tent flaps from the main compound area that circles the saltwater pool.

An outdoor shower and compost toilet enhance the experience of respecting nature. Stars are bright and animals chatter throughout the night and, come morning, a luscious tropical breakfast with locally grown fruits, grains and breads is delivered to your tent.

Smaller suites known as Polynesian Ares are also available as is sushi catering and a selection of New Zealand wines. Bicycle use and wifi is complimentary.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Magic Reef Bungalows (Best Beach Bungalows)

Magic reef bungalows in Cook Islands at a beach surrounded by palm trees
Photo Credit: Magic Reef Bungalows

If you like eco-chic resorts in Raroratonga, you’ll love Magic Reef Bungalows.

These beach bungalows are nestled along the leeward side where the waves are gentle and the white sands stretch for hundreds of feet up and down the coast and then into the shallow sea. Magic Reef has a commitment to the environment as well as health and wellness.

With regular oceanside yoga classes and spa treatments using only locally developed Ritu skin products which is honestly best facial on the Island. Magic Reef takes sustainability a step further and has both a fleet of electric bikes and electric cars for the use of their guests.

Absolute beachfront bungalows, beachfront bungalows and ocean view bungalows all have wood-carved four poster beds, kitchenettes and outdoor tubs and showers for luxury with an outdoors-in ambiance. Well-located near many of the best island restaurants.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Sunset Beach Resort (Best Resort Near Avarua)

blue beach chairs beneath a hut with palm trees on the surroundings in Rarotonga Cook Islands
Photo Credit: Sunset Beach Resort

If your idea of a beach vacation includes swinging lightly in a hammock between two palm trees on the beach, Sunset Beach is your small, intimate four star hotel.

With 36 rooms of varying sizes draped along the beach and around the gorgeous centerpiece pool, this clean and convenient resort is perfect for just about anyone. Good snorkeling off the beach with plenty of hammocks and thickly-padded beach chairs.

When I first discovered the Sunset resort when walking the beach one day, I snuck onto a hammock and hoped they didn’t discover me. What an amazing feeling swaying to the light breeze. I decided next time I’d go legit and rent a room.

The Anchorage Restaurant here has one of my favorite breakfasts on the island, a Mahi-Mahi eggs benedict. Totally memorable. The resort is also located among many of the best restaurants on the island and fairly close to the main town of Avarua for shopping and the Saturday crafts, jewelry and food market.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

The Rarotongan (Best Resort for Families)

Aerial view of The Rarotongan at The Cook Islands
Photo Credit: The Rarotongan

The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Lagoonarium (yes, that’s a word!) is an iconic Rarotonga hotel and adventure center. Situated on the leeward side of the island where winds and waves are milder. This Rarotonga resort is southwest- facing and guests enjoy incredible sunsets nightly…no extra charge!

The family-focused resort has a combination of lodging from garden rooms to beachfront suites to three-bedroom villas. There is accommodation for every type of guest and perfect for family vacations, reunions as well as couples’ getaways and even wedding parties.

Wrapped around the Aro’a Marine Preserve, the snorkeling here is easy and the coral as colorful as the multitudes of fish. The Night Snorkeling Tour is famous and don’t be surprised to see a turtle or two. Stand-up paddleboards, boogie boards and kayaks as well as snorkel equipment is complimentary for guests.

The Rarotongan offers a complimentary continental breakfast and features an adjoining adults-only resort aptly named The Sanctuary next door where, uniquely, the dining room has a sand floor as if dining directly on the beach.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

The Palm Grove (Best Mid-Range Resort)

view of palmt trees and clear sand with blue ocean in background

This perfect modest little resort in the area of Vaima on the Southern Coast of Rarotonga is my latest find on the island. With a range of garden and poolside villas on one side of the road and beach villas on the other, this well-priced, American family-owned resort sits on one of the most beautiful beaches in the South Pacific.

The Palm Grove also has a renowned restaurant, Yellow Hibiscus, which offers a complimentary continental breakfast (plenty of paw-paw or papaya) as well as lunch and dinner from locally-sourced seafood and produce. The resort is known for his Friday happy hour where wine and beer at seriously cheap prices flows for two hours.

Rooms are fresh and clean with a tropical motif and none is very far from the beach which I find to have the most amazing snorkeling in about three feet of water. Spend the day on the complimentary beach chairs and dip in every hour or so for a day of what The Cook Islands does best – relaxation and fascination.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

The Cook’s Oasis Holiday Villas (Best Budget Apartments)

room of a villa with bed and ceiling fan and other fresh furnitures
Photo Credit: Cooks Oasis

While these comfortably furnished villas and apartment are not right on the beach, the gorgeous white sands are a quick stroll away – and The Cook’s Oasis Holiday Villas offer plenty of free snorkeling gear and water shoes. Unfortunately, you will have to bring your own beach chair but you’ll be saving enough to make that painless. Located on the leeward side of Rarotonga, waves and winds are gentle and the water warm and clear.

With private accommodations from studios to family villas with several bedrooms, these units are clean and bright and the owners are helpful and easy-going, making sure your family has the information you need for a complete Cook Islands experience.

In fact, one of the best bakeries is just across the street and Sunset resort’s The Anchorage Restaurant is right next door serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Dorothy’s Muri Beach Villas (Budget Resort on Muri Beach)

beach chairs at a resort surrounded by beautiful greenery

Back on the Windward side and on the Muri Beach lagoon with all of its activities from paddle-boarding to snorkel cruises, sits the charming Dorothy’s Villas.

Dorothy also owns the cab company so this is a busy family with everyone from the kids and grandchildren cleaning and driving.

The villas are super clean and complete with kitchen and even a washer and dryer, a godsend if you’ve been traveling and have crusty sandy clothes stuffed in a duffel.

Dorothy’s sits a bit back from the beach but the six villas, in varying sizes, are within walking distance of beach and a dozen excellent restaurants on the beach and main road. It is also easy to get to the popular Muri Night Market where locals and tourists alike come out for the best in island food…prepared by islanders.

Ready to book? Click here to check availability on Booking.

Cook Island Resorts FAQs

How do you get to the Cook Islands?

There are several ways to get to the small grouping of the Cook Islands, of which Rarotonga is the largest at 26 square miles. The easiest way for travelers from Oceania is to take the 4 hour direct flight from Auckland on Air New Zealand. If you are coming from the USA, the Air New Zealand also offers a once weekly flight from Los Angeles every Saturday night. In nine short hours on this continuously highly-rated airline you will arrive on a tiny airstrip and be greeted with warmth and a “Kia Ora” hello.

Which of the Cook Islands should I stay on?

While there are 15 islands in the Cook Islands, most visitors to the Cook Islands choose to stay on Rarotonga or Aitutaki. This guide focuses on the best resorts in Rarotonga because it is the largest by far of the Cook Islands and can be circled in about an hour by the 32 kilometer main road that follows the white beaches and calm aqua sea that makes the Cook Islands memorable. There is a variety of styles and levels of luxury that is truly dependent in the traveler.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Rarotonga?

The driest, and therefore most popular, months to visit Rarotonga are June to October. Note that the wet season, which runs roughly from December to April, is generally a less popular time to visit Rarotonga

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That’s it for this guide to the best resorts in Rarotonga, Cook Islands!

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