Choosing which beach area to stay at is a huge part of planning a trip to a tropical island. Muri Beach takes top spot in Rarotonga but Aroa Beach, as well as some other places on the West / South coast are (almost) as nice and offer up a very different atmosphere.
This post contains affiliate links — if you book a hotel after clicking one I’ll get a small cut. I paid my own way on this Rarotonga trip and didn’t receive any sponsored hotel rooms.
Aroa Beach is the name given to a long stretch of coastline roughly between Aroa Beachside Inn and the Rarotongan Beach Resort. We stayed at Aroa Beachside Inn and loved calmness of the area. It’s a different atmosphere to Muri Beach — a lot less going on and far less foot traffic on the beach. The beach itself is beautiful. There’s a reef just offshore but there are plenty or sandy sections where you can swim.
You can do some kayaking or snorkelling if you want to check out what’s below the surface (lots of fish). The coral isn’t as colourful or “alive” as other places we’ve been around the world but there’s still more than enough to see (and it’s great being able to snorkel right by the beach).
Beach Bars and Sunsets
Shipwreck Hut is the bar / restaurant at Aroa Beachside Inn and you’d struggle to find a more idyllic place to eat and drink in the island. It’s your typical wooden beach shack that you’d see in places like Thailand. Right by the water, you can relax with stunning views either in the bar or the tables right by the beach.
It’s on the sunset side too, which is always a bonus. Wilsons Beach Bar looks similar as well — and I’m sure there are more places like this nearby.
Other Beaches on the West Coast
Aroa Beach is a long stretch of sand featuring a few resorts and beachfront bungalows. It’s a very quiet place, and with such a long beach you probably won’t stray too far if you’re staying there. And you don’t really need to!
Further north the beach gets rockier and not quite as appealing (the water is still nice though). We stayed a night in the Edgewater Resort and Spa and while we enjoyed it the beach doesn’t compare favourably to Aroa Beach. It’s a good option if you’ve got kids, as it’s one of the bigger resorts on the island and offers heaps of activities.
Another good beach area close to Aroa is the beach close to Palm Grove. We caught the bus there from Muri and walked all the way back along the beach. The bit around Palm Grove was by far the best — I’d say just as good as Aroa (but not as quiet).
A Short Walk
If you’re exploring Rarotonga’s West Coast you’ll probably want to see some of the island’s inland views. The best view to effort ratio we found was the Hospital Hill Lookout. The track starts at the hospital (either walk there or organise a car / motorbike) and heads uphill for about 10 minutes.
We were surprised how good the view was — almost as good as anything we saw on the Cross Island Track, which is much more strenuous. One thing to note is the sharp branches on the overgrown track at the top — quite uncomfortable to walk through.
The other main attraction on the West Coast is Black Rock. The name describes it pretty well — a big black rock (or group of rocks) on the beach. It’s an easy place to stop at when driving around the island, and it was only around 10-minutes’ walk from the Edgewater.
Where to Stay
We stayed at both Aroa Beachside Inn and the Edgewater Resort and Spa and they have very different vibes. Aroa Beachside Inn is a quiet, relaxing place with a slightly older crowd, while the Edgewater is a proper family friendly resort, with all the noise and bustle that entails. If you want to sip on cocktails by the pool for most of the day before partaking in some crab racing, the Edgewater is perfect. You might want to avoid it if you hate kids though. Travelling with kids? Great option!
Aroa Beachside Inn is a lot more intimate. There’s no pool (they are planning to build one though) and it doesn’t have that big resort feel. We really enjoyed it and thought it was the perfect place to stay for our last couple of days. We’d done everything we wanted to already and just wanted to relax somewhere beautiful before flying home. Of course there are lots of other places to stay in this part of Rarotonga. We’d consider the Rarotongan Beach Resort and Lagoonarium, Sanctuary Resort and Spa or Palm Grove next time.
Where to Eat
One of the best things about holidaying in Rarotonga is that you’re never far away from food. In some similar places you might be staying in a resort with pretty much nothing else around it, meaning you have to do most of your eating and drinking there. That’s not the case in Rarotonga. Head to the main road and you’re bound to find a restaurant, café, bar or convenience store. We ate at the Night Market at the Flying Turtle Café when we were staying at the Edgewater. It’s much smaller than the Muri Night Market but is worth checking out if you’re staying nearby.
Most of the resorts have restaurants too and we found them to be reasonably priced. We went to an “Island BBQ” at Shipwreck Hut and it was the best food we ate on the island — $35 for a huge meal of meat and salad at one of the best located restaurants on the island is hard to beat!
Are you planning a trip to Rarotonga? Have I convinced you to check out Aroa Beach? Let me know in the comments below!
Latest posts by Jon Algie (see all)
- What’s a Trip to Laos Really Like? - February 2, 2024
- 5 of the Best Things to Do in Senggigi, Lombok, Indonesia - January 18, 2024
- Should You Rent a Motorbike in Southeast Asia? (Probably Not!) - January 5, 2024