Surfing in Rarotonga
Surfing in Raro is pretty underground at the moment, so crowds are scarce but waves are plenty!
As there are no specialized surf camps/resorts on the island, the best way to set your self up is with standard hotel accommodation and to hire a car to travel to the breaks.
There are a number of surf breaks around the island as Raro picks up both southern and northern swells. During November-April, variable north-west winds take over from the traditional south-east trade winds which prevail during April-November.
Nearly all of the breaks in Raro are over coral reef and are best surfed at mid to high tide with a few exceptions on the eastern coast.
There is a variety of accommodation options to choose from with most of the hotels being situated right on the beautiful beaches.
INFORMATION + MAP (click to open/close)
The Cook Islands is made up of fifteen islands, twelve of which are inhabited. Rarotonga is the largest island, being home to over half the population.
The unit of currency of the Cook Islands is the New Zealand dollar. The Cook Islands also have their own currencies and coins (only exchangeable in the Cooks) which are interchangeable with the New Zealand dollar. Westpac and ANZ Banks in Avarua are open weekdays from 9am to 3 pm and the airport bank is open when flights are going or coming. Most shops and restaurants accept major credit cards and travellers cheques. The Cooks also have offshore banking facilities.
No visa is required for a stay of less than 31 days (travelling on NZ passports), provided the onward passage has been booked and paid for. Visitors staying longer than 31 days require a passport, onward passage and proof of adequate financial means to stay in the Cook Islands. Visa application can be made on arrival in Rarotonga and costs $30 for every three month's extension up to six months.
The Cook Islands have two distinct seasons. April to October, the cooler season, is dry and averages 20-26°C, with cool nights. From November to March, which is the warmer season, temperatures rise will to 22-28°C. Although this is the rainy hurricane season, mornings are usually sunny, with storm clouds building up in the afternoon and the rain falling in a late afternoon storm that leaves the air refreshed. The Islands are out of the usual cyclone path, and major cyclones usually only happen once every twenty years.
English is the official language, but the locals also speak Cook Islands' Maori, of which there are a few dialects. The Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau in the north have their own, Samoan influenced language.
Almost two-thirds of the people belong to the Cook Islands Christian Church, with Roman Catholics, Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, Assemblies of God and Baha'i also represented. The Cook Islanders are a very religious people whose faith has become integral to daily life and Sunday is kept as a day of worship and rest.
Vaccinations are only required if arriving from an infected area. The Cook Islands are free from serious diseases and pests and dangerous plants and animals. However, visitors need to be cautious about sunburn, heat stroke and hypothermia and are advised to have vaccinations against hepatitis A & B, typhoid and cholera.
Medical services are available 24 hours a day, and dental services during working hours on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. There is a modern, well-equipped hospital, a number of private medical practitioners and two pharmacies.
While the locals drink it from the tap, visitors might like to boil it or drink bottled water. It is advisable to drink boiled or bottled water in rural areas with no taps or treatment facilities.