Heading off to see the sights around Rarotonga? Whether by car, motor-scooter or bicycle there are many interesting places to visit on this vibrant island. Free maps are readily available, so be sure to take one with you.
AVARUA is the commercial centre. This lively township is situated on the northern coastline and there you will find the main shopping area, services, banks and a number of café’s and restaurants. On the western end of the township is Punanga Nui Marketplace which is a ‘must see’ attraction on Saturday mornings.
A little further west is AVATIU HARBOUR where cargo ships arrive and fishing charter boats operate from. A hundred metres further west is the main CITC SUPERMARKET.
On the back road behind the harbour you will find the WHALE & WILDLIFE MUSEUM, a great family attraction with live creatures and interactive areas for children. Nearby is the inland valley road (Ururau Drive) which takes you up to THE CROSS ISLAND WALK.
East of Avarua (clockwise), on the main road is the historic ‘must visit’ BEACHCOMBER building which houses a pearl market plus the BERGMANS ART GALLERY and a café. The narrow road opposite will take you past the main CICC CHURCH, the PALACE OF MAKEA to your right, USP (University of the South Pacific) and the LIBRARY MUSEUM, to the back road where you will find the historic TAKAMOA THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE and MISSION HOUSE. If you continue left, in a loop around this area, back to the main road via Victoria Road, you’ll pass the NATIONAL AUDITORIUM, NATIONAL LIBRARY and MUSEUM (pictured at top).
No doubt, you will wish to stay on the main road on your first circumnavigation of the island, but there are also many interesting sights and historic places on the back road; this is the ARA METUA (the Great Road of Toi). This ancient road connected Rarotonga’s old villages which were originally located inland next to plantations and away from the sea. Of note are MARAE ARAI TE TONGA (take the road inland from the Super Brown shop at Tupapa), the ruins of PA’S PALACE (inland Ngatangiia) and HIGHLAND PARADISE (inland Arorangi).
Travelling clockwise from Avarua, be sure to visit the following: AVANA HARBOUR at Ngatangiia where the canoes of the great migration to New Zealand departed; MURI BEACH for a lagoon cruise; TE ARA museum of cultural enterprise located in Muri Village; FRUITS OF RAROTONGA at Titikaveka for good snorkelling; the TAKITUMU CONSERVATION AREA at Turoa, home to endangered birds; WIGMORES WATERFALL, turn inland at Papua next to the failed Sheraton Hotel site; and the TINOMANA PALACE at Arorangi.
Near Black Rock, on your way back to Avarua, you will pass the western end of the airport runway - this is the closest you will ever get to watch an AIRCRAFT LANDING. Alternatively, you can take the back road at Black Rock which will take you past the BCI NATIONAL STADIUM and TEREORA COLLEGE.
For the most informative information regarding our other islands, visit the ‘Discover Our Islands’ section of this website.