The Perfect Family Escape

Rarotonga. Family friendly fun. These simple words say it all. Fly direct from Auckland and in under 4 hours you and the kids can be immersed in the picture postcard perfection of tropical palm trees, white sand and a turquoise lagoon. The water is warm and crystal clear, the fragrance of frangipani is everywhere - and most accommodation is just a few steps away from the water’s edge.

Switch your clock to Island time

Slow down and enjoy a holiday without the hassle.

While it’s a world away in terms of climate and size, there’s a comforting familiarity for New Zealand families. Currency is the NZ dollar, accents are similar and you drive on the left hand side of the road. There’s a beautiful ‘island time’ approach to life in general.

Most families will love soaking up the relaxed pleasures of this South Pacific paradise, with its tropical lush mountains and coral-reefed lagoon. A day playing on the beach, snorkelling, swimming, snoozing, or just admiring the scenery from your hammock, drifts away in no time.

At Kids Clubs’ children can swim and snorkel in the lagoon, study and feed the tropical fish that mill around their feet, learn to paddleboard, husk coconuts, weave placemats, have races, games, and full on fun, supervised by friendly, experienced adults.

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Choose your home away from home

Accommodation for every kind of family

Book a villa with two or three bedrooms, complete with full kitchen and laundry facilities and plenty of space for everyone. Or, for parents in need of some adult timeout, look at the larger resorts with Kids Clubs, providing amazing activities and total care and attention for your children every day. Check out the Kids Clubs at Pacific Resort, Edgewater Resort and Spa and The Rarotongan Resort and Spa.

The Edgewater is 3.5 stars and over delivers with its location and facilities. Located on the western side of the island, the sunsets are stunning.

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Your resort is your base

But don’t just stay there. They’re luxurious and comfortable but make sure you get around the 32km island and explore all of its beauty.

The Rarotongan is 4 star and set on a spectacular part of the lagoon and the 4.5 star Pacific Resort is located on beautiful Muri Beach. If you’re seeking absolute luxury for your family, it’s there too - extending right through to five star total luxury villas.

If you prefer smaller hotels and resorts, there are multiple properties that cater for families – some with 2 bedroom villas, pools and playgrounds. And of course there are holiday homes (baches or cribs), many right on the lagoon edge.

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The Island is your playground

There are dozens of ways to enjoy the Cook Islands.

It's the accessibility and ease of everything that makes Rarotonga so different. No matter where you are or what you want to do, the whole island is your playground.

Take Pa’s Cross Country Trek, which traverses the island’s inland mountains and goes to The Needle. Take a four wheeled drive adventure tour, hire quad bikes or horses, learn how to paddleboard or scuba dive, go night diving, kite surfing or big game fishing.

Scooters, cars or minivans can be hired for a reasonable amount and you can drive around the island’s perimeter in under an hour. There are no traffic lights, just numerous scooters buzzing around, bearing locals and tourists, all clearly enjoying themselves. There’s a regular bus service going either clockwise or anticlockwise around the island - jump on if you want to meet the locals or get somewhere, although it’s possible you’ll be happy to stay put in your own little patch of paradise. On a Saturday morning the Punanga Nui Markets at Avarua sell cooked food or fresh produce or fish, arts and crafts. A cultural display is usually on and the cute kids learning the ropes entertain the locals and the tourists.

A lagoon cruise on a glass-bottomed boat is another must-do for families. Kids are particularly catered for and entertained by the crews. If they’re old enough, they can snorkel amidst the tropical fish, before going ashore a motu (a small island) for a barbeque lunch and hilarious show involving coconuts, sarongs, more music and a good old laugh at life in general.

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Savour every moment in Paradise

Sample the many flavours of Cook Islands cuisine

Eating out costs about the same as it does in New Zealand and the supermarkets stock many familiar products - great for ravenous kids. There are some great cheap places to eat at the markets and the fresh tropical fruit is plentiful, healthy and totally addictive. You can use New Zealand money in Rarotonga, with many places accepting Visa or other major credit cards.

Dinners for the family are easy and fun with many hotels and resorts having their own restaurants and others around the island featuring ‘feet in the sand’ dining – where the kids can play on the beach while you enjoy a nice cold drink. Some resorts also offer romantic beachfront dining by candlelight, and if this appeals, babysitters are available. There’s plenty of good, family places to eat and you can always find good fish and chips to eat right on the beach.

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Older kids (over five) will love experiencing “Island Night”, offered by most resorts, Highland Paradise or Te Vara Nui. The show and umu cooked dinner of Cook Island cuisine features music, singing and dancing. It’s infectious, interesting and fun for everyone.

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