North Rarotonga Accommodation

avarua main street

Avarua Town sits in the centre of the north coast of Rarotonga, five minutes from the international airport, and is the administration centre of the Cook Islands. Most tourists end up in town for a shopping outing or part of a bus trip around the island and it's a nice place to spend a few hours, especially on Saturday morning when the open air market takes place. The north coast of Rarotonga is not a popular spot for holiday-makers as most of the coast here is rocky. However, there is a decent stretch of beach in Nikao, just west of the airport terminal and Avarua Town has a dozen or so budget guesthouse accommodations which are good spots for those looking to explore and mingle amongst the local neighbourhoods.

Avarua Town

Avarua town is very small and takes only a few minutes to walk the length of its main high street which runs parallel with the town's seawall. There's a supermarket, two banks both with ATM machines, several restaurants / cafés, internet booths and several good boutique shops specialising in the sale of black pearls and fine handicrafts. There are also a few budget places to stay in the leafy suburban hills behind town but it's not the best option for a holiday unless you’re here just to explore the island.

There are two harbours in Avarua. If you're looking for a small boat to take you sightseeing along the coast then you might find one beside Trader Jacks in the town centre. The main harbour however is a ten minute walk west of the town centre at Avatiu with large cargo boats servicing the outer islands, yachts visiting from overseas, sailing cruises and game fishing charters. Adjacent to the harbour is the open-air Punanga Nui Market where you'll find everything from brightly coloured sarongs (wrap around dresses), to black pearls, flower garlands, spicy Ika Mata (lime marinated Tuna and coconut cream) and tropical fruits. The main market day is Saturday morning but a handful of fixed kiosks open throughout the week.

Nightlife in Avarua Town is pretty good and one of the best places for a weekend night out in the entire South Pacific. There are even a couple of night tours that go bar hopping around the best spots. There's a cinema too showing the latest blockbusters in case the weather turns on you.

East of Avarua

Heading east out of Avarua Town, the coast is rocky but a passage through the reef makes it ideal as a harbour for fishing boats and yachts (yachting season May-Sept). There are a few interesting buildings to see, notably the Cook islands Christian Church, the adjacent palace of the ancient kings and the more modern museum, all to the east of the main shopping area.

church in avarua town

There are a few part-sandy beaches here but swimming is restrictive. Several kilometres east along the coast you'll get stunning views of mountains from the main road and you'll find some ancient stone foundations (marae) on the inland road, as well as several dirt tracks leading into valleys which are great for exploring by moped, bike or foot.

Continue Reading:   West Rarotonga ...