The spectacular natural beauty of a little paradise is more than just stunning beaches. Breathtaking jungle-clad mountains of the interior cascade to the sea, like Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs. Step back in time to find a paradise refreshingly undeveloped. Lush green vegetation everywhere, warm locals in simple yet colourful houses and no building taller than a coconut tree, it’s a true Polynesian experience.
From tropical jungle to mountain peaks to manicured gardens with cafés, exploring inland is so easy. Only 32 kms around, it takes just 45 minutes to circle the island by scooter or car. Or for a more laidback island tour, delight in the simple joy of jumping on a local bus and getting a light-hearted commentary of the sites whizzing past from the driver.
Adventure seekers will love getting off the beaten track with a variety of inland adventure tours: from buggies, quad bikes and 4WD to eco cycle tours with storytelling from local guides. For those with energy to spare, there are even combat games, golf and mini-golf courses to enjoy.
Choose from guided mountain bike treks through challenging terrain or simply hire some wheels (even e-bikes) and discover at your own speed.
Cycling is a great way to experience the freedom of the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is only 32km around which is perfect for grabbing a bike or e-bike to discover your way. Head out after breakfast to grab an island coffee at one of the many cafes dotted roadside around the island and remember to pack your snorkelling gear for a refreshing swim before heading off again to see what other sights are in store for you.
(Images below are courtesy of Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours)
A must do for hikers is the ‘Cross Island’ trek on Rarotonga. Either self-guided or with Pa's Trek, visitors will be taught about local medicinal plants, flora and fauna. This and a range of other unaccompanied treks require a good degree of fitness, but should not be attempted without first informing others of your intentions.
Raemaru Trek (Raemaru, 350m) Moderate | 3.1km return | 90 mins average time | 15m rock climb to summit
The starting point for the Raemaru Trek is located on the back road in Arorangi. From the main road, locate Friendly Mart Convenience Store and take the inland road. Once you come to the backroad intersection, turn right following the yellow marked signs 'Raemaru Trek’. Take another inland road in 80m (look for the yellow Raemaru sign). Follow to the end until you come to the start of the trek. Park on the side and off the road as this is a thoroughfare for inland residents.
- Follow the orange markers on this trail.
- QR Code self-guided tour is now available. All you need is a smartphone with a Bluesky visitor SIM card. You can purchase a visitor SIM card with Bluesky for $49 at the airport, Avarua or in Muri Beach.
- There is no regular tour offered but a private tour can be made by arrangement. Ask your hotel reception or head to our visitor centre in Avarua.
Interested in the legend of this trail? Learn more about the legend of Raemaru here.
Cross Island Trek (Te Rua Manga 413m)
Moderate – Hard | 6km cross island trek | 3hrs – 3.5hrs average time
The Cross Island Trek on Rarotonga is true to its name as it does cross the entire island! It’s recommended that you begin the trail in the North and head South. Taking the public bus (that goes clockwise and anti-clockwise) is the best option but if you do have a car, driving would bring you closer to the trailheads.The trek is marked with orange markers for experienced trekkers who want to do this hike on their own.For those interested in a fully guided tour, explore Pa's Cross Island Trek.
As the trek ends at the Papua Waterfall (Wigmores Waterfall), feel free to take a dip and cool off after the hike. Please note that water is dependant on if it has been raining days prior to your hike.
If you decide to just do a hike up to "The Needle" (Te Rua Manga) you can drive up to the North side, trek up to the summit and return back the same way you went up.
The North Trailhead: Located in Avarua, you can take the bus here from almost anywhere on the island. Track down the Pandanus Gas Station (behind Sea Salt Takeaway) and walk straight up the road behind it. Look for Uraua Drive and carry on until the end of the road. You’ll see the trailhead sign and a map.
The South Trailhead: The South side of the trail starts (or ends) at Wigmores Waterfall, at the end of Papua Road on the South side of the island. To drive up the road to the waterfall, you’ll be asked for a donation ($2 for bikes and $5 for cars/trucks). If you’re ending your trek this way, there’s no need to donate. Please note that you will see a warning sign recommending starting the trail from the other direction but this is not necessary as you can start from the South trailhead.
Maps are available. Click here for more information.