Keep Your Cool, Raro Style

Exploring Rarotonga can be thirsty work, so here’s our top-five picks to cool down, island-style.

  • Dive into nature’s very own electrolyte, a nu (young green coconut), chilled and ready to drink from the Punanga Nui Market. Don’t be surprised if it’s also the drink of choice when you’re served lunch on an island tour.
  • Lots of tropical fruit equals lots of tropical smoothies. Recharge after snorkelling with huge servings of creamy, liquid goodness from Saltwater Cafe or Charlie's Cafe & Beach Hire.
  • Pull up a bar stool at Trader Jacks, and toast Raro’s dedicated crews of outrigger paddlers with a cocktail or a cold beer.
  • Yes, the craft-beer movement has even washed up on Rarotongan shores. Take a tour and sample the beers at Matutu Brewery, or cool down a west-coast sunset with a refreshing Mai Lager at the Shipwreck Hut
  • Discover the unique flavours of banana wine at Muri’s Koteka Winery or visit the winery’s stall at Avarua’s weekly market. The wine is mixed with whatever fruit is in season – anything from passionfruit to mango or orange. There's also vodka and fresh vanilla pods for sale. Look for the roadside signs just past Muri Beach as you're heading clockwise around the island.

Island Nights

Rarotonga’s traditional form of evening entertainment is the Island Night – a spectacular showcase combining traditional dance and music (karioi) with a lavish buffet of local food (kai). Dancing, drumming and singing are always on show, and fire juggling, acrobatics and storytelling are often thrown into the mix.

Island Nights are held regularly at the large resorts, and every night except Sunday you can catch a show somewhere on the island. Extravagant affairs are featured at the Pacific Resort, Edgewater Resort, Crown Beach Resort and the Rarotongan Beach Resort. You’ll pay between NZ$15 and NZ$35 for the show only, or NZ$55 to NZ$99 for the show and buffet.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, Highland Paradise offers a NZ$99 show that includes transport, a cocktail and an umukai (underground oven) feast. Another umukai is provided at Te Vara Nui Village on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. On Thursday and Friday nights the Staircase Restaurant & Bar features a show costing just NZ$35 including food (NZ$5 for show only).

Ask the tourist information office in Avarua for its handout listing the many Island Nights on offer around the island from Monday to Saturday.