The largest of the Cook Islands, travellers book flights to Rarotonga for swimming, snorkeling, shopping, nightlife, island cuisine and a relaxed laid back vibe. The island’s interior is characterised by volcanic outcrops and rainforest, while many of the beaches are rimmed with coral reefs and marine life. The friendliness of Rarotonga’s locals make it a popular place to visit again and again. Most New Zealanders arrive on cheap flights to Rarotonga between June and August to escape the winter back home. This high season period can make finding flights to Rarotonga and hotels more difficult, so make reservations as early as possible. Christmas is also another busy period when many Cook Island natives come home for the holiday, be sure to book flight tickets well in advance.
Rarotonga’s wet season and the threat of cyclones puts most people off from visiting during December to April. But in general the rainy season is characterised by short and heavy bursts of rain followed by sun. If you visit during this time you can find the cheapest flights to Rarotonga, plus plenty of accommodation, rental cars and dining options.
When is the best time to book a flight to Rarotonga?
The best time to to take cheap flights to Rarotonga is during the months on the edge of winter, summer and the rainy season; April, May, September and October. The weather is likely to be good and there are fewer tourists on the island.
Air New Zealand operates a flight to Rarotonga most days of the week. Less frequent flights are operated by Virgin Australia and Jetstar. Domestic carrier Air Rarotonga is always busy and operates up to flights a day between Rarotonga and Aitutaki and other sister islands of the Cooks group.
How to get from the airport to the city centre?
Rarotonga Airport (RAR) is located in the town of Avarua, 3km west of the downtown area. To get there you can catch public transport options of a bus or a taxi. The bus goes anti-clockwise round the island and passes by the RSA club across the road from the airport every 30 minutes. Taxis are located next to arrivals area. Many hotels have courtesy buses so check with your hotel when booking if they offer an airport pick-up service.
Rarotonga insider information
Visitors are not expected to tip while on the Cook Islands. It's not part of the Islanders' culture. Also, Rarotonga is a conservative place. Even Rarotongan women will cover up for the beach. Dress conservatively.
There are four coral islets off Muri Beach: Mo tutapu, Oneroa, Koromiri and Taakoka.
The Takitumu Conservation Area protects native birds and plants, particularly the Kakerori, the Rarotonga Flycatcher.
Rarotanga's cuisine is modern Pacific Rim - a fusion of Asian, Indian and French. Ika mata is a specialty on Rarotonga, it's fish marinated in coconut and lime. Ika mata, with taro (the leaves of the taro are island spinach) appear on "island nights" menus.
The Saturday market at Punanga Nui runs from 6am until noon. This is the place to pick up black pearls, hand-woven baskets and wooden souvenirs.
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