Visitors Guide T


Takitumu is a large area on the south and southeast side of Rarotonga. It’s a good spot for snorkelling. Several smaller resorts, such as the Little Polynesian are here.

Takitumu Villas

Takitumu Villas are set lush, well-maintained, tranquil gardens that lead to a great beach (8km in both directions). There are ten luxurious villas with king bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchens, spa baths and bidets. There are four honeymoon villas on the edge of the beach. There’s no restaurant as such (there’s a weekly staff and guest BBQ) but the Paw Paw Patch is down the road and other restaurants will pick up guests and drop them back. (More info..)

Tamarind House

Sue Carruthers & Robbie Brown, previous owners of the famous Flame Tree, have this restaurant in a great location. Just five minutes out of town, dinner is served on the veranda where you might see whales playing near the reef. It is also a great location for a wedding!

Tangaroa Tours

Go hard or go home! That’s their motto. Be prepared for an off the track 4-wheel drive tour and a local underground feast for lunch –


There is a 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) on all goods and services. This is included in prices at most places but you should ask if it’s not displayed, just in case.

Tax Haven

It’s rather ironic that a stridently Christian country can be in the tax haven business. Offshore investors in the Cook Islands pay no income tax, capital gains tax or death duties, although locals pay personal and company taxes. People with money to invest can apply for residence permits through the Cook Islands Development Investment Board – phone 24 296, fax 24 298, It’s not as easy as it once was with rules on foreign investment being tightened in 2003 to avoid loopholes. People keen to get residency should be after lifestyle not loopholes. I’m sure most investors are minimizing tax rather than avoiding tax and far be from me to suggest there are more laundries on Rarotonga than the Snowbird Laundry & Drycleaners… Mind you, I seem to recall the disgraced Australian entrepreneur, Alan Bond, had some financial dealing in the Cook Islands…


Personally, I’d pick up a bus timetable (they’re everywhere) and tailor your outings to suit – they are arguably more reliable than the taxi services and certainly cheaper. Ask the taxi driver for a rate before hopping in and clarify that it’s the total price and not per person.


See Communications.


There are courts open to the general public at both the Edgewater Resort and the Rarotongan beach Resort & Spa.

Time Zone

The time zone is the same as Hawaii – two hours behind California time and 22 hours behind Fiji and New Zealand. This can give some travellers a feeling of ‘Groundhog Day’ – leaving Australia or New Zealand on, say, a Thursday, arriving in the Cook Islands on a Thursday after midnight, going to bed in the wee hours and waking up with a whole Thursday ahead. Of course a Thursday can disappear in a couple of hours on the way home.


Tipping is not traditionally part of Polynesian culture and no one will be upset if you leave with “thank you” (meitaki mata)and a smile. Having said that, wages in the hospitality sector are low and a tip if you have had a good time and good service will be appreciated.

Toilets (Public)

There are public toilets in Avarua at Cooks Corner, across from the police station and the Punanga Nui Cultural Market.


If you pick up a brochure on Tonga from a travel agent you will probably read that the Kingdom of Tonga is a “rare sprinkling of jewels set in the turquoise blue of the Pacific”. It could well say the same in a dictionary. The diverse natural beauty, the people and the culture make Tonga a unique and rewarding destination. Tonga is the only Pacific nation never to have been subjected to foreign rule and, as such, traditional lifestyle has been maintained. The monarchy is important, as is the church and the sense of family and inner peace can be somewhat enviable..

Trader Jack’s

Trader Jack’s is an institution on Rarotonga. The bar and restaurant is in a great location looking out to Avarua Harbour. You can drop in for a drink, bar snacks (kati kati) or a meal (excellent sashimi). Live music plays some nights. More than likely Jack will be at the street end of the bar and, if I lived on Raro, I think this would be my regular watering hole, too.

Travellers’ Cheques

Traveller’s Cheques are accepted in the Cook Islands but with ATMs, credit cards, cash exchange facilities is there a place for these dinosaurs in today’s sophisticated world? That said, traveller’s cheques do get a better exchange rates than cash at banks and they are insured in a way that cash can’t be.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are lots of turtles in the waters around Rarotonga.  With any scuba dive, nothing can be guaranteed but there’s a good chance of seeing green and/or hawksbill turtles.  They are tame, gentle and sometimes curious.

Sascha from The Dive Centre (he took the photo on the right) had one fall in love with him.  As soon as she saw him she would go to him and when he put his hands out, she would sit on them and nibble on his regulator.

Green turtles, BTW, aren’t actually green to look at – that’s the colour of the fatty flesh underneath the carapace.

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