Rarotonga is well known as an idyllic paradise. Golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, luxurious resorts; it’s the ultimate place to relax, unwind and forget about the outside world.
It’s also a place you can have a bit more of an intrepid experience by finding your inner adventurer and seizing an opportunity that exists on the Island. That opportunity is to hire a scooter and spend a day exploring and experiencing all there is to offer.
Like cycling in the streets of Amsterdam, relaxing in a gondola in Venice or riding a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok, hiring a scooter in Rarotonga is as much a cultural experience as it is a practical one. Not only will you be immersed in daily part of the Cook Island way of life, you’ll also have the freedom and flexibility to go places on your own schedule!
To show you just how great an idea it is, we’ve put together a guide of how to spend a great day on a scooter on your next holiday to Rarotonga!
Getting your license and hiring your scooter
Before you get started, you may need to get a license to ride it legally in Rarotonga. Foreign licenses from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK and the EU are now accepted in the Cook Islands for up to six months provided it does not expire and you’re entitled to drive the class of vehicle (a scooter in this case) in your home country.
If your license doesn’t cover this, then you’ll need to obtain Cook Islands Visitors Motorbike Driver’s License obtained at the Cook Islands Police Department. Getting the license involves a theory and practical test. For most people (especially those who’ve driven scooters before) it is a formality and not something to get anxious about.
Once you’ve got your license, you’ll also need to choose a provider to hire a scooter. There are a number of local providers you can consider but if you’re staying at the Pacific Resort then we typically recommend the super convenient AVIS rental at the Pacific Resort who’ll be able to advise on everything you need.
Once you have your scooter and your license then you’re ready to start exploring!
Catching the sunrise at Muri Beach
The great thing about having your own mode of transport is that you can start your day whenever you like which includes getting up early for the sunrise. Getting up early might not immediately sound like the most appealing thing to do on holiday but those who make the effort rarely regret it.
One of the best vantage points for this is from the shores of Muri Beach. Pacific Resort happens to be located on Muri Beach so if you’re staying with us you won’t necessarily need to hop on your scooter to get there but if you aren’t then it’s the place you’ll want to be. The purple and pink hues in the sky from a Pacific sunrise are mesmerising and you’ll quickly find yourself in a place of complete serenity.
Not a bad way to start the day at all!
Swimming to the islets from Muri Beach
Rarotonga has a great array of beautiful beaches and, on scooter, you’ll be able to easily get to them all. The beaches all have their own characteristics (which we describe in detail here) with some better for swimming, others for snorkelling, kite surfing etc.
Muri Beach is a great place to enjoy a dip and once you’ve admired the sunrise then an early morning dip will be just the tonic you need to get yourself going. The waters are warm and clear, and a popular past-time is to swim over to the inlets of Koromiri and Taakoka.
Brunch before snorkelling at Titikaveka
After your early morning swim you’ll likely be a little peckish so hopping on your scooter to get some brunch will definitely be a good option at this point.
Given the post-brunch activity takes you to the south of Rarotonga, about 10 minutes scooter ride away, it makes sense to enjoy a meal nearby and there are some great local eateries to consider.
One of these options is Charlie’s Café and Bar where you can dine on some beautifully fresh Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi. Another is the Maire Nui Gardens & Cafe which has a lovely botanical garden to admire while you’re there.
From there you’ll only be minutes away from Titikaveka Beach and the Fruits of Rarotonga. Much quieter than Muri, this is the place to come to for the very best snorkelling on the Island. The waters are incredibly clear which makes experiencing the coral reef and marine life all the more remarkable.
An afternoon hike to Te Rua Manga (The Needle)
Having got your fix of swimming and snorkelling, you might want to do/see one of the many inland activities that Rarotonga has to offer. A quick scooter ride to Wigmore’s Waterfall is an easy and pleasant option and is only a 15-minute ride from Titikaveka Beach.
Another option, and one for the keen-spirited, is to do the Te Rua Manga (also known as The Needle) hike. Te Rua Manga is a uniquely shaped 85m high cylindrical like rock which at its peak offers amazing views across the whole Island. There are tracks from both the south and north side, though the north is recommended as approaching from the south can be challenging.
From Wigmore’s Waterfall, it’ll take you around 30 minutes to drive to the start of the track on the north side which is adjacent to the Avatiu Stream. Maps of this are readily available at hotels and shops. The route to the top has a reputation for being a little physically demanding but as previously mentioned most who do it say it’s well worth the effort.
A Cook Islands feast at sunset before enjoying the Muri Beach Night Market
After a decent hike it’ll be time for a proper Cook Island feast for dinner, and if you time it right, you can enjoy your meal whilst gazing out into the Pacific sunset.
The west side of the Island is typically the best place to watch the sunset and there are some great restaurants on that side. One of these is Kikau Hut Restaurant with a menu inspired by homemade recipes and authentic Rarotongan flavours (and regular live music as well). Another restaurant to highlight is the Waterline Restaurant and Bar, known for its south seas charm and warm hospitality you’ll find it particularly romantic as the sun sets, sharing the moment with your special someone.
A tropical cocktail to finish the day
There’s no better way to see out a day in Rarotonga than with a cocktail in hand. Once again, if you’re staying at the Pacific Resort, we’ve got the fantastic ‘Barefoot Bar’ where you can choose from a great range of local tropical beverages. There’s also a number of other bars on the Island which we talk about in more detail here that you can add to the list of possible places to try.
Whatever your choice, you’ll find it a great way to relax and reflect on a day’s worth of new and memorable experiences made possible thanks to your fantastic little Cook Island scooter.
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