Want to explore the best beaches in Rarotonga? From my favorite beaches, the best snorkeling beaches in Rarotonga, how to get there, where to stay, and more, with this guide you’ll be covered!
Being a small island of course there are some awesome beaches in Rarotonga. I mean this island is the ultimate definition of paradise. Though, there are certainly some parts that are better to swim in than others. Also, snorkeling is better in certain areas as well, especially those which are protected. On the opposite side, there are actually some parts of Rarotonga you seriously shouldn’t swim. This is where currents are strong and the passages are located that can quickly sweep you out to sea.
I have actually visited Rarotonga on three separate occasions to date and I am sure there will be more in the future. This place nearly seems like a second home for me. Having spent so much time there and being a water lover you bet I have taken upon myself to search for the best beaches in Rarotonga. Actually, I have scoured all corners of Rarotonga in search of this.
Luckily it is a small island so it shouldn’t take you too long to check out the best beaches in Rarotonga. Whether you choose to explore by car, scooter, bus, or bicycle, I will let you know everything you could ever want in this guide!
Get ready for blue seas, white sand, and gorgeous views as I list the best beaches in Rarotonga which you need to see on your visit!
The 5 Best Beaches In Rarotonga You Need To Visit
- 1. Aroa Beach
- 2. Muri Beach
- 3. Titikaveka Beach
- 4. Koromiri Motu
- 5. Black Rock Beach
- Where Not To Swim In Rarotonga
1. Aroa Beach
Aroa is my personal favorite beach, so much so I actually booked the Rarotongan Resort on my recent trip. This resort looks straight over this beach and I couldn’t imagine a better holiday. Nevertheless, Aroa Beach is an absolute paradise. Imagine clear blue waters, a white sandy beach, and the best snorkeling in Rarotonga.
Though you do not need to be staying in the Rarotongan Resort to visit. Heading anti-clockwise around the island there is a small parking area just before you hit the resort. This is the best place to pull in and enjoy paradise.
If you swim directly outside the resort we found the currents there to be quite strong. So much so that I actually had quite a bit of trouble staying put. Though head further around where the parking is and the water here is a lot calmer with less of a current. The water out this side is also slightly deeper which is perfect if you want to relax in the shallows.
For the best snorkeling in Rarotonga bring along a mask and some flippers. You will need to swim out a bit to come across the coral formations, but once you get there it is great. This area is actually a marine reserve so it is protected under the law.
Personally, I have seen moray eels, pufferfish, lionfish and so much more in the reef here. It’s an incredible spot for snorkeling and it isn’t too deep further out. Though the currents can still be strong so bring your flippers.
2. Muri Beach
Muri Beach is no doubt one of the most popular beaches in Rarotonga. Though this is for good reason. Thanks to being located behind a couple of Motus (islands) the water here is calm. So much so that the waves barely splash on the beach. This makes it the perfect place for those who are not the most confident swimmers or those traveling with young children.
Was well as having super calm waters, it is also extremely clear. You won’t find any snorkeling spots in this area due to the sandy bottom, but it creates a great place to just relax and swim. The beach is beautiful with bright white sand and plenty of space to spread out. You can also hire paddleboards and kayaks to explore from the shops in this area.
In the Muri Beach area, you will find plenty of hotels, as well as tour operators and restaurants. This is kind of the “to be” place for travelers. The Pacific Resort is a popular hotel option here for those who can afford it.
3. Titikaveka Beach
Another great option when looking for the best beaches in Rarotonga is Titikaveka Beach. This spot is also known as Fruits of Rarotonga due to the store across the road which I have heard so much about, but literally never seen opinion. This is a great spot if you are just looking to relax and get away from the crowds. There never seems to be too many people on this beach. Especially because there is really only room for 7 cars to park.
It isn’t as sandy as places like Muri Beach. Though this is because Titikaveka Beach has some of the best snorkeling in Rarotonga and the coral needs rocks to stick to and grow.
Personally, I find the shallows here can be a bit of poor visibility. Though, as soon as you start swimming into deeper waters you will find that it clears out and you can see all the fish and corals perfectly. If you swim out from the beach and to the left (looking out to sea) you will discover what is known as the coral canyons. Think incredible tall coral formations that you can swim in and out of. Though just be careful as they have what is known as fire coral here. You should never touch coral generally as this is how it dies, but be super duper extra careful here!
4. Koromiri Motu
Around Muri Beach, you have an assortment of Motus (islands). Though Koromiri is the best one of check out on this best beaches in Rarotonga list. I mean who doesn’t want to have their own private island to relax on!
The best way to get to Koromiri Motu is by kayak or paddleboard. There are plenty of places to hire these from on Muri Beach. From there it is a quick paddle and then bam, you’re in paradise. Just make sure you swim on the part facing towards Muri Beach. The back area of the island is rocky, wavey, and has a population of stonefish there.
The only thing is to make sure you are not visiting when Koka Lagoon Cruises does their boat lagoon cruise there. This island takes up a large portion of their tour and please do not touch any of their equipment. Just chill beachside and enjoy the sunshine.
I have explored a few different Motus by kayak and definitely recommend Koromiri. A lot of the other ones which are completely inhabited are absolutely swarming with sandflies and mosquitos. So much so that you will find yourself running back in the water to duck for cover.
5. Black Rock Beach
Black Rock Beach is named after the huge black rock which rises from the ocean on the left-hand side. There is an excellent viewpoint here just before you get to Black Rock Beach traveling clockwise (you will see the cars all pulled in). For the ultimate Instagram pic get someone to take a pic of you from the viewpoint while you run down to the shallow mermaid-like pools around the black rock!
Parking for Black Rock Beach is available at the Nikao Social Centre, just make sure you do not park under a coconut tree! Car rental insurance generally doesn’t cover this. Make your way past the tree line and the expansive beach will open up. This is where a lot of the locals swim so it is a much different vibe than touristy spots such as Muri Beach. There are often even food trucks parked up on the right near Nikao Social Centre serving up lots of delicious foods and sweets.
I found this a great beach just for simply swimming. Though the water can be quite murky when it comes to snorkeling. There are some large rock formations under the water providing a home for corals and fish. Though the currents here can be quite strong and visibility poor so I personally would save snorkeling for another beach.
Technically not in Rarotonga, but in the nation of the Cook Islands, you will find the Motu known as Aitutaki. Let me just say there’s a reason I have featured them in this list. They have the damn best beaches I have ever seen in my life! It was crazy being there and knowing deep know I will never experience better than this. Well, welcome to Aitutaki.
Yes I know literally everything there is expensive, like crazy expensive. I mean it’s where those fancy couples go on their honeymoon. Flights $500.00 return, accommodation $600.00 per night. Well, I actually did an entire day tour of Aitutaki for $493.00 including flights! It was incredible. We explored the township and all the of magnificent islands on a boat tour.
If you can afford it I highly recommend an Aitutaki day trip to discover the true definition of paradise.
Where Not To Swim In Rarotonga
As incredible as this island is there are some beaches you should not visit in Rarotonga. These ones are not safe for swimming or for snorkeling. This is mainly because of the passages running from the shore out to the ocean. The passages are deep wells between the lagoon where the water can go down to 50 meters deeps. There are strong currents in these passages and many people have been swept out to sea when swimming in them.
Rarotonga has 5 different passages, mainly located around the Southern parts of the island. Traveling anti-clockwise, these are known as Arorangi School Passage, Rutaki Passage, Papua Passage, Avaavaroa Passage, and Avana Passage. These passages allow the lagoon around Rarotonga to fill up and empty depending on whether it is high tide or low tide. You can just imagine the amount of water that flows through these.
Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly where they are located. If you are near one you will see plenty of warning and danger swim instructing you not to swim in the area.
If you are absolutely desperate to swim in these passages then I highly recommend doing so on a sea scooter safari. As dangerous as the passages are they hold some amazing animals such as turtles, eagle rays, and sharks. Doing the turtle sea scooter safari with Ariki Adventures will allow you to explore these areas safely. They have well-trained guides and the use of the sea scooter will help you navigate the strong currents.
Where To Stay In Rarotonga
There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Rarotonga. From small hostels, apartments on the beach, luxury resorts, and everything in between.
Though just be aware that even 5-star resorts in Rarotonga don’t actually look too great so adjust your expectations accordingly. This is an island with limited resources and seems to be a few years behind New Zealand, which is again, a few years behind the rest of Oceania. As a result, rooms can look quite dated, think floral prints from the ’70s, though that’s just the atheistic on the island.
Beach front location with affordable bungalows from $105.00 per night.BOOK NOW
With standard rooms from $130.00 you can enjoy life on the beach at an affordable price.BOOK NOW
Romantic adults only resort. With rooms from $230.00 per night enjoy luxury in peace.BOOK NOW
Set on a private beach this 4 star resort is the perfect getaway from $190.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Things To Do While In Rarotonga
One great thing about Rarotonga is that is it basically impossible to get bored during your stay! There is such a wide variety of things to do and beautiful sights you will constantly be out exploring.
Also, for a more extensive list be sure to check out my post on the Best Things To Do In Rarotonga.
Swimming With Sea Turtles: No matter what your budget is swimming with sea turtles is one activity I recommend to everyone visiting Rarotonga. This experience will have you swimming alongside these majestic beauties. I did this with Ariki Adventures and cannot recommend this enough. As an alternative, they also offer a lagoon safari which I recently did. This is suitable for all ages and is safe for those who are not the most confident swimmers.
Aitutaki Day Tour: If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience definitely think about booking the Aitutaki Day Tour. Though it is pricey, 100% worth it. It still has some of the best beaches I have ever seen.
Raro Buggy Tours: I have always wanted to do the buggy tour as there is such hype so I booked it in on my most recent trip. I remember saying at the start to my partner that we must swap halfway so I get some fun. Though when that time came I was enjoying it so much I was happy to stay a passenger!
Beach Hop: Now you cannot go to Rarotonga and miss out on exploring the incredible ocean life and this can easily be done on a budget, if not for free. Basically, no matter where you are staying on the island the ocean is just a walk away. Do what I did and bring your own snorkel, or hire your own from a few dollars a day. Honestly, you could spend hours exploring the underwater life and corals (pro tip: the best snorkeling spot is Aroa Marine Reserve behind The Rarotongan beach resort or in front of Fruits of Rarotonga)
Lagoon cruise: More of a family-friendly activity is the lagoon cruise. There are a couple of companies you can book with, though we went with Koka Lagoon Cruises. It is a perfect way to get into the Cook Island spirit. With plenty of performances, snorkeling, entertainment, and a delicious lunch it is the ideal way to spend half a day.
Across Island Hike: One of the most popular things to do is do the Across Island Hike and visit The Needle. This will take you right into the interior of the mountainous island with some amazing ocean views.
Quad Biking: If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie then quad biking is perfect for you! Head right into the inland area and among the jungle. Explore off the beaten track and get some of the best views of the famous needle which stands high over Rarotonga.
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Want more Cook Islands inspiration? Check out….
- WHERE TO EAT IN RAROTONGA
- AITUTAKI DAY TOUR FROM RAROTONGA: DISCOVER PARADISE WITH AIR RAROTONGA
- EXPERIENCE THE BEAUTY OF RAROTONGA WITH KOKA LAGOON CRUISES
- SWIMMING WITH TURTLES IN RAROTONGA: SEA SCOOTER SAFARI WITH ARIKI ADVENTURES
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