The first thing you should look to find out when planning a trip to a tropical island is: Where are the best beaches? Even the most beautiful islands have rough and unappealing beach areas! I wrote this post as a guide for finding the right beaches in Rarotonga for you — I saved the best until last so if you’re in a hurry skip to the end!
Disclaimer: I mention a lot of hotels and resorts in this post. We (my wife and I) paid our own way on this trip and didn’t collaborate with any hotels or tour companies. I get a small cut if you click on a link and book a hotel through Booking.com — it’s one of the main ways this site makes money.
Where Are the Best Beaches in Rarotonga?
There’s a 32 km road circling Rarotonga, with resorts and guesthouses in almost every area. With a cheap and easy bus taking you from beach to beach, there’s no need to stay at the best beaches, but if you’re keen to splash out it makes sense to stay somewhere like Muri Beach.
I’ve organised the beaches in this post from the West Coast (close to the airport / main village) all the way down to Muri on in the southeast. That big chunk of Rarotonga is known to have the best beaches, and that’s exactly what we found after exploring most of the area during our stay. One thing to note is most of these beaches are “areas” rather than strictly defined beaches.
The West Coast
You’ll find some of the biggest resorts in Rarotonga on the West Coast, including the Edgewater. The beaches are decent on the West Coast but they only get better the further south you go. We stayed at the Edgewater for a night and it’s a good option if you’re looking for a nice, easy resort to relax at (especially if you have kids).
Black Rock Beach is good spot to check out when exploring nearby. It’s just north of the Edgewater (we walked there in around 10 minutes) and is close to Hospital Hill, one of the best viewpoints in the west of Rarotonga.
Towards the bottom of the West Coast is Aroa Beach, a long stretch that (roughly) runs between Aroa Beachside Inn and the Rarotongan. We stayed at Aroa Beachside Inn for the final two nights of our trip and it was really relaxing (we especially loved the beach bar).
READ MORE: Aroa Beach + the West Coast of Rarotonga
Aroa Beach is perfect for a late-afternoon stroll. It’s a quiet section of beach and the water is perfect for swimming. It may seem rocky (there’s a big reef just offshore) but there are lots of sandy parts and plenty of palm trees for shade.
I reckon Aroa Beach is the second best beach in Rarotonga — consider staying there if you’re keen for a quiet area but still want some options in terms of drinking and dining.
Palm Grove / Turoa Beach
Next up is the beach at Palm Grove Resort. We were staying at Muri and decided to catch a bus to Palm Grove and then walk all the way back to Muri. Palm Grove is home to one of the best beaches in Rarotonga — flawless sand and clear water for swimming (less rocky than other areas nearby). The resort looked nice too, we’ll consider staying there on our next trip.
READ MORE: Cross Island Track: Walking Across Rarotonga
Further south towards Turoa Beach it’s a little rougher (with less places to stay) until you reach Bella Beach Bungalows.
Titikaveka is another nice beach area with heaps of places to stay nearby. You’ve also got some good places to eat and drink including the Maire Nui Gardens. The beach itself is stunning in parts (slightly rough in others) and is great for a stroll. I’d rank it as my fourth favourite beach area in Rarotonga (Muri, Aroa and Palm Grove being the top 3), and its proximity to Muri Beach makes it a solid option to stay at. Tikioki Beach is further south but pretty rough — a decent option if you want to stay close to Muri though.
And finally we have what I consider to be the best beach in Rarotonga. Muri Beach, with its glistening lagoon and offshore islands, has the exact look and feel you want in a tropical beach destination.
READ MORE: Check out my post about Muri Beach and Lagoon
The water is shallow, clear and bright blue, while the white, sandy beach is long enough to find a quiet spot and shady enough (thanks to the palm trees) that you won’t be rushing off indoors when it gets too hot.
There is plenty going on at Muri Beach, including boat tours, beachfront bars and kids playing at the beach. We were there in November (shoulder season) and despite it being by far the busiest beach we visited it was still very quiet and relaxing.
The Muri Beach area is like a little beach town. There are cafés, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, takeaways and heaps of places to stay for all budgets. We splashed out and stayed at Muri Beach Club — you won’t find a resort with a better location.
Just across from Muri Beach sit three small islands. You can kayak out to the closest one in a minute or two, while the others will take a little longer. It’s such a fun place to explore on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard — you might even get a passenger!
Further up the lagoon is Aroko Bungalows. We stayed there for four nights — it’s a great option if you want lagoon views without spending too much.
Other Beaches in Rarotonga
The east coast of Rarotonga isn’t known for its beaches, but you’ll still get that beautiful blue water wherever you go. We walked a little further up from Muri (Sunrise Beach) and saw some of the beach areas closer to town — definitely not amazing beaches. Don’t stress if your resort is in these areas as you’re only ever a bus ride from some of the best beaches in the South Pacific.
Are you planning a trip to Rarotonga? Which beaches in Rarotonga will you stay at? Let me know in the comments below!
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