Kia Orana! (Rarotonga experience Part 1)

Kia Orana!

I’m sad to say I’m home again, back in Wellington, and stuck in that post-holiday blues mode. Getting back to reality is hard after fun and freedom.

We had a wonderful 9 days in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, and I got to relax, swim, snorkel, and see one of my best friends marry the love of her life. It was a wonderful experience on all accounts and I would absolutely go back.

For the first part of my Raro blogs, I will be talking about accommodation and pricing. The Cook Islands were quite expensive compared to other places I’ve been – but it makes sense as everything is in New Zealand dollars, and many things are imported from New Zealand (where they start off expensive anyway!).

Because Air New Zealand decided to change our flights, we ended up staying in two different places. We booked Sunrise Beach Bungalows for the first and last nights, and Tropical Sands for the 7 nights in between. I based my decisions around location – we were aiming for Muri Beach area as that’s where the wedding was being held. Looking at is my go-to for ratings and deals, and both places looked reasonable. I will also be putting my reviews on Trip Advisor soon.

As our flight arrived late – 10:20pm Friday night – we booked an airport transfer from Sunrise Beach Bungalows. Unfortunately, I had to contact them three times; once by website contact form, once via email, and once via phone. When I reached Caryn via phone she assured me it was all arranged.

The transfer service was through a separate company, CI Tours, and they were really nice. The cost was $15 per person, which is fairly reasonable. From what I’ve seen, the cost can range from $12-$20 per person for these services.

When we arrived at Sunrise, it had been double booked, so we were sent 1 km down the road to Manea Beach Villas to stay that night, at no further cost. Manea Beach Villas are self-contained accommodation right on Muri Lagoon, and our room was very nice. It had aircon, as well as fans, and cooking facilities, including a BBQ. The room was clean and tidy, the shower had really good pressure, and there were plenty of towels, including two beach towels.

If it hadn’t been late at night and raining, we would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of lighting down to the lagoon at night either.

Manea Beach Villas are around $240-$271 per night on

The following day, we moved to Tropical Sands, our main place for the trip. I was immediately impressed with the quality of our bungalow. It was clean, tidy and spacious. It included a stove, oven, electric kettle, microwave and toaster, as well as plenty of  cutlery and crockery. We picked a garden view bungalow, instead of ocean view, as it was cheaper, but we could still see the beach and sea from the back patio. The only downside was that the beach was extremely rocky and not fit for swimming. The area is also Ra’ui (Rahui in NZ), meaning there is a restriction on taking marine life.

The hosts, Rudy and Kanoe, were lovely and gave us some really good recommendations for places to eat. I would absolutely stay at Tropical Sands again.

Tropical Sands bungalows start at around $150 per night on We got a good deal – stay 6 nights get 1 night free – which brought the cost down to around $130 per night, or $900 for 7 nights.

For our final night in Rarotonga, we moved back to Sunrise Beach Bungalows. The room was clean and tidy, but a little shabby. We didn’t check out the pool or the lagoon as we had torrential rain, and just wanted to hide indoors.

The positives for Sunrise include some friendly cats and a dog. One kitty spent the whole time in our room and slept on our bed. Or perhaps we were sleeping in his bed? If animals aren’t your thing, this may bother you. Negatives were the lack of working doors. The recent (I think?) rain had caused the back door to swell and so it couldn’t close at all, and the sliding door was really hard to slide. If we had been staying longer than one night I would’ve been concerned about security. At one point we went out to the convenience store across the street, and when we got back we couldn’t unlock the sliding door, so we had to use the uncloseable back door. A small blessing, I guess?

I would not stay at Sunrise again, although seeing the friendly animals again would be tempting.

Sunrise Beach Bungalows start from $105 per night. Our final night only cost $19.57 as we used our free night saved up with

Next time I visit the Cook Islands, I would like to stay in a resort, or at least somewhere with breakfast included.

My next post will be about food!

Thanks for reading 🙂

All opinions and photos in this post are my own.
All prices mentioned are in New Zealand Dollars (the currency used in the Cook Islands) and are accurate at the time this was written.
This post contains no affiliate links.


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