The main road is just 32km around the island but there is much to discover on Rarotonga. To help you get your bearings, here are some of the places of interest that await you by rental vehicle, organised tour or local bus.
The numbering starts in the township of Avarua.
1. The Beachcomber building was built by the London Missionary Society in 1845 and virtually destroyed by a cyclone in 1968. Restoration was undertaken in 1992. The complex now contains an art gallery, retails shops and The Café.
2. The Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) was built in 1853. The grave of the first Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Albert Henry, is in the churchyard. Visitors are welcome to attend church services on Sunday.
3. The Para O Tane Palace was once the site of Taputapuatea marae, the largest and most sacred marae (meeting ground) on Rarotonga. Today, the building is a private residence.
4. Takamoa Theological College was the first European-style building in the Cooks. It was built by missionaries in the 1830s and extensively renovated in 2009. The College trains pastors and missionaries for the CICC.
5. SS Maitai Shipwreck is clearly visible off-shore from town with its engine block protruding from the ocean. The SS Maitai traded regularly between the Cooks and Tahiti before it ran aground in 1916.
6. Arai-Te-Tonga Marae is about two kilometres east of Avarua. A small sign points inland to the marae (meeting ground). These are important cultural sites and still used for traditional ceremonies.
7. Avana, the circle of seven stones is located on the foreshore of the harbour at Avana. The stones commemorate the departure of a fleet of canoes to New Zealand around 1350AD, each stone representing a canoe that completed the journey.
8. Muri Beach with its wide lagoon and picturesque small islands (motu) is safe for swimming, sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, kite-surfing, windsurfing and other beach activities. Muri has many eating places, accommodation outlets, an art gallery and some shops.
9. The Fruits of Rarotonga is a popular snorkeling spot. The best snorkeling is just west of the car park. Be aware of the reef passages, which can be dangerous.
10. Wigmore’s Waterfall (aka Papua Falls) isn’t signposted but follow a 'rough' road inland off the main road beside the abandoned hotel at Vaimaanga for 1.5kms. Ask at Wigmore’s Superstore if you can’t find the turn off.
12. Black Rock just past the Golf Club is a good snorkeling spot. Being adjacent to the airport, you may have the surprising 'visual and audio' experience of the low-flying aircraft approaching Rarotonga Airport. Check the back pages of the Cook Islands News for arrival and departure schedules.
13. Aviatu Harbour handles most of the country’s imports and exports. It is pleasant area to walk around. Often in the afternoon, after school, children swim off the wharf. Most of the gaming fishing boats and the 'Reef Sub' are moored there.
14. The Punanga Nui Market on Saturdays from 8am to lunchtime is ‘huge’ for fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, clothing and music, food and drinks and cultural performances. It is also open Monday to Friday 8am-4pm with limited outlets, mainly eateries.