What to do in Rarotonga: 7 MUST DO Activities

Wondering what to do in Rarotonga? Here are 7 absolute must do activities!

In October 2019, I visited the beautiful island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands for one week. I was chosen to go on a travel agent trip with Cook Islands tourism as one of their top sellers for the Cook Islands – I recommend it to everyone! The Cook Islands has been my dream destination for years, and I could not have been more excited to finally visit. This post is all about what to do in Rarotonga.

What to do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Cook Islands: What to do in Rarotonga

Our feisty group of 12 travel agents were so lucky to go on a variety of day trips and tours. For the first half of the trip, we stayed near Muri Beach. This is a beautiful area perfect for snorkeling, sunset paddle boarding, and lagoon cruises. The last half of the trip, we stayed at the Edgewater Resort. We did all of those activities in the seven days that we had in Rarotonga.

Moana Sands Lagoon Resort

Sunset Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

On day one, we went for a sunset paddle with Ariki Paddle Tours. The tour starts right in front of Muri Beach Club Hotel. A few people in our group had never done stand up paddle boarding, but we had a little introduction from the guide and everyone caught on quickly.

The tour took us around a tiny island not far from the shore as the sun was setting. It was absolutely stunning watching the sun going down over the ocean, the sky changing colors, as we paddled through the insanely clear and calm lagoon waters. The water was clear enough to see to the bottom, and when we went into deeper waters, we could see coral, fish, and even turtles swimming underneath us!

Rain fell for a short portion of our paddling, which isn’t unusual in the Cook Islands. There was a short torrential downpour, where we all got completely soaked. Though I would normally find this so off putting, I felt so serene, calm, and content, just paddling around this tiny island in the warm and tropical lagoon. At the end of the tour, I felt the whole thing was perfect, and the rain ended up making the whole thing even more fun. I would very highly recommend this tour, as it was one of my most memorable tours of the trip.

What to do in Rarotonga: Punanga Nui Markets

Punanga Nui Markets

Rarotonga hosts a little farmers market every Saturday in the main township. The stalls include food stalls, jewelry stalls (this is where you can find the famous black pearls!), smoothie and juice stalls, souvenir and clothing stalls. There are performances by local dancers which I really enjoyed, and a beautiful booth touting sugar cane juice, along with signs of its health benefits.

Punanga Nui Markets, Rarotonga

Punanga Nui Markets

I got hooked on sugar cane juice back when I lived in Thailand, and I can never say no to a freshly juiced glass! This booth even used compostable cups and straws. These markets are a great way to spend an hour or two on a Saturday morning.

Punanga Nui Markets

Te Vara Nui Village

Te Vara Nui Village is a cultural immersion experience. You can opt to do the village tour, which includes moving as a group from hut to hut while learning about the way of the Cook Islands, past and present. The demonstrations include history lessons, demonstrations of how to open a coconut, and more.

For those interested in culture, this is for you. Personally, I enjoyed the buffet dinner, drinks, and dance experience following dinner the most. The Cook Island locals are amazing dancers. I really enjoyed this night show, I would recommend doing just the dinner and dance show for those not super interested in culture.

What to do in Rarotonga: Koka Lagoon Cruise

On Sunday, our third day in Rarotonga, we booked in for a lagoon cruise. This cruise took us in the morning out to the lagoon and around the reef, stopping off at the best places to snorkel. The snorkeling in the Cook Islands is the best I’ve ever experienced, with so many different fish. This lagoon cruise was the best snorkeling that we experienced in Rarotonga.

What to do in Rarotona: Lagoon Cruise

What to do in Rarotona: Lagoon Cruise

We stopped at a little island just off the shore of Rarotonga for a big buffet lunch of barbecue fish, bread, green salad, and potato salad. After lunch, there were a few demonstrations, where the locals showed off skills of climbing the palm trees, and whacking open coconuts. A few of us wandered off and spent our time on the sand and in the water. I’d highly recommend this tour for snorkeling, it was a great trip. If you’re a snorkeler, definitely book in for a Koka Lagoon Cruise!

Muri Night Markets

If you’re looking for a chill, farmers market vibe place for dinner, definitely check out the Muri Night Markets on a Tuesday – Thursday or Sunday. The markets open at 5 PM. Some of the more popular foods – especially the pies and desserts – sell out quickly, so try to arrive at 5PM if possible. There is a great pizza stall, but my favorite was the local selling healthy vegetarian and vegan food.

What to do in Rarotonga: Aitutaki Day Tour

The locals say, if you haven’t been to Aitutaki, you haven’t been to the Cook Islands. After visiting Aitutaki, I realize this could not be more true. Though Rarotonga is beautiful, Aitutaki is next level, like something out of a magazine. A lot of people put this trip off because the day trip isn’t cheap (you have to take a flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki), it runs about $550 AUD per person.

What to do in Rarotonga: Aitutaki Day Tour

If you are only going to take one tour in the Cook Islands, I suggest this one.

What to do in Rarotonga: Aitutaki Day Tour

What to do in Rarotonga: Aitutaki Day Tour

This tour includes a 1 hour flight each way, a driving tour around Aitutaki, a little introduction to the town, and then a long boat ride through the bright blue waters. The boat takes passengers to a few different islands, stopping finally at One Foot Island, which gets its name from being shaped like a foot. The tour includes live music and a big buffet lunch – the lunch we had on board was some of the best food I had in the Cooks!

Raro Buggy Tours

This tour is perfect for the adventurous traveler. Hop in an ATV and drive through the hills in the middle of Rarotonga, and then switch to a smaller buggy to drive through mud puddles, getting yourself and your passenger absolutely drenched in mud. This tour was so fun and made me feel like a little kid again. Our group of agents had such a fun time here. After the tour, we ran into the ocean to get all the mud off – it goes everywhere. We stopped at the Food Box just next to the Buggy Tour for an easy lunch.

There are so many amazing tours in Rarotonga. I never used to be the type to do tours, but recently I’ve realized that tours help you experience a destination so much more. I’d definitely recommend booking in at least a few activities for your time in the Cook Islands.

Let me know in the comments below which tour sounds most fun to you!

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Santorini, Greece

Momsies and I visited Santorini on our mother daughter Euro trip in May 2019. We had each picked a couple of places we’d always wanted to go for our Europe trip. On this trip, we visited Rome, Positano, Athens, and finished the trip in Santorini. We stayed in Oia, Santorini, which is at the Northern tip of Santorini. This is the best place to watch the sunset and is one of the most chill, beautiful, and photogenic places in Santorini.

Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

We flew into Santorini airport, and I’d arranged a driver to come pick us up from the airport via our airbnb. The airport is just about 30 mins from Oia. The driver was great in that he not only took us to Oia, but helped carry Momsies bag up and down all of the stairs – and my god, there are A LOT of stairs in Oia. It was warm outside, the sun was strong, and the stairs would just not quit. It took us probably another 30 mins to get to our Airbnb via numerous stairs.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Once we arrived at the Airbnb, we were greeted with the most adorable, private, light blue CAVE ROOM. Yes, we stayed in a cave! A lot of the accomodation in Santorini is in caves, as it helps keep the room cool. We fell in love with our little cave house right away, and the hot tub outside didn’t hurt either. The sun roof and the outside patio also sweetened the deal.

The cave is away from the hustle and bustle of Oia, but still central enough to easily get to any of the restaurants or main part of the town. This cave is absolutely stunning – I’d highly recommend.  It is an Airbnb, which I use all of the time – I’ve found some real gems on there (ex where we stayed in Dominical, Costa Rica). If you want to try Airbnb for yourself, get $40 off your booking.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

We spent our four days in Santorini eating, drinking rosé with lunch, exploring the tiny town of Oia, and watching the sunset from our hot tub or sun deck.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Where We Ate in Santorini

My favorite restaurant in Oia – which we went back to nearly every day – was called Kyprida. It’s a small, family owned restaurant, and the food is just simple, fresh, and amazing. They have vegetarian options and can make lots of vegan options as well!

Kyprida, Santorini, Greece

Kyprida, Santorini, Greece

I recommend getting a bit of their organic rosé with lunch or dinner. They have amazing espresso as well, but they are only open for lunch and dinner.

Kyprida, Santorini, Greece

Another restaurant that we really loved was Pelekonos, which has amazing views of the ocean and a super chill, relaxing ambiance. The food was incredible as well!

Oia, Santorini, Greece

We had a little afternoon rosé at a restaurant called Sunsets, which is a popular place for watching the sunset as it is on the northernmost part of the island and faces the sea. It is really cute and a great place for a little break after a day of walking in the Santorini heat.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

On our last day, we also stopped at a tiny little local restaurant called Lotza for lunch – definitely recommend! They have an amazing vegan soup if you’re looking for something a bit lighter after endless gelato and wine. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more filling, they had a full menu of greek dishes as well.

Places You Must Visit in Oia, Santorini

I also loved the local bookstore, called Atlantis Books. It’s a great place to pick up something to read for those long days in under the umbrella.

This bookstore is an adorable place, but if you are going to go and take tons of photos, make sure you support this small local business by buying a book or at least a postcard. I bought both. 🙂

Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

How Long To Stay in Santorini

Four days in Santorini is long enough to see one little town (like Oia), but there are a few tiny towns in Santorini. I wish we could have stayed on the island for a week or so, and we could have visited some of the other places on the island. Nonetheless, I loved Oia and am so happy we stayed there.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Where to Stay in Santorini 

We stayed in Oia, but I was also considering Thira, as it also has a lot going on and is a bit less pricey than Oia. It was a hard decision as it’s easier to get things like two beds, bigger rooms, and more space in Thira. However, Oia was my dream destination, so we just splurged for a beautiful cave room in the best place in Santorini. It was completely worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

What is In Oia

Oia is small, but it has multiple grocery stores, lots of restaurants, wine shops, and a few places to get gelato. For gelato, our favorite was Lolitas – they had a MANDARIN GELATO. Do not miss this if you’re visiting Oia!

Lolitas, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Let me know in the comments – is Santorini on your bucket list?

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Bali, Indonesia: A Photo Diary

In September, Michael and I went to Bali, Indonesia for my birthday! September is a fabulous time to visit Bali as it’s the dry season and not super hot. We rented a private one-bedroom villa and spent the week swimming in our private pool, eating everything, and watching the sun set from the beach every evening. Here is a little photo glimpse into our trip:

Where to Stay in Bali

As mentioned before, we rented a private one bedroom villa – check it out here. This property is located in Seminyak, Bali, but its just on the edge between Seminyak and Legian – two of the most popular spots to stay in Bali. Seminyak is full of restaurants, beach clubs and nightclubs.

Fun tip: I also made a video tour of our villa, you can see it here.

Where to Stay in Bali

where to stay bali

Favorite Restaurants

I have a bucket list primarily for restaurants in Bali – yes, I’m that girl. This trip, we focused on Seminyak restaurants, because that is where we were staying. There are tons of instagram famous restaurants in Seminyak, and we were lucky enough to visit quite a few of them. One of my favorites was Kynd, which is a completely vegan restaurant.

Where to Eat Bali

where to eat bali

Where to Eat Bali

where to eat bali

Another restaurant I really loved – which was my absolute favorite lunch/afternoon/day time restaurant with amazing cocktails – is SEA CIRCUS. This is probably the most instagrammed restaurant in Bali. It is well known for its adorable decor, but should receive wayyy more credit for its food. I ate the best taco OF MY LIFE here – the vegan jackfruit tacos.

where to eat bali

where to eat bali

where to eat bali

These jackfruit tacos are honestly life changing – if you’re going to Bali, do not miss these!

Another big hit was the watermelon margarita and the vegan burger.

where to eat bali

where to eat bali

Another restaurant that I really wanted to try is Sea Circus’ sister restaurant, Neon Palms. Neon Palms is just a few doors down from Sea Circus, and one of the most popular spas in Seminyak – Body Works – is right in between. I wish I had planned a lunch at Sea Circus, a long spa afternoon, and then dinner at Neon Palms. Next time! This time, we just stopped at Neon Palms for a quick drink before a beachy sunset.

where to eat bali

Another not to be missed restaurant (which we actually visited three times in one week!) is Nalu Bowls. They do the BEST smoothie bowls and wholesome brekkies/lunches. They also have a little shop downstairs, where you can pick up your own coconut bowls and super cute spoons.

Where to Eat Bali

Where to Eat Bali

Where to Eat Bali

The absolute best meal we had in Bali was my birthday dinner at the famous Mamasan. This restaurant came highly recommended by two coworkers, so I had to try it out. We went to dinner after a long day of swimming in our pool, and luckily we came with a big appetite, because everything was so amazing that we could not stop eating! where to eat bali

where to eat bali

It is a very dimly lit restaurant, so I didn’t get a lot of good photos, but I would highly recommend this restaurant. We had a few cocktails, and a three course meal. If you ask for the vegetarian menu, they’ll bring out an entire veg menu – woo hoo! I had the vegetable samosas to start, the baked tofu for a main, and for dessert we split a creme brulee and a chocolate cake.

Where to Watch the Sunset in Bali

I had a list of places to watch the sunset in Bali. Our first stop was Potato Head, which is one of the most popular places, but to be honest I HATED it. The whole place is super loud, most people in there are completely drunk, and its extremely expensive.

We went to La Plancha the following night, and that was MUCH MORE my vibe – really chill, colourful bean bags & umbrellas on the beach, a huge menu of snacks and cocktails; it is just a real casual place. I had fish tacos, a nice cocktail, and Michael had his share of Bintangs (the local Bali beer). La Plancha was a perfect 20 min walk back to our villa.

where to watch the sunset bali

Where to Watch the Sunset in Bali

What to Do in Bali

Though we wanted to spend most of our time relaxing in our villa, eating, and getting massages, we did plan two adventure days to break up the down time. I planned two big days of touring. One day was to East Bali to see the Gate of Heaven, the Royal Water Palace, Tibumana Waterfall, and some of the beautiful rice paddies and views of Mt Agung, the active volcano in Bali. The second day of touring was to Ubud, to see the Sacred Monkey Forest, the rice paddies, and take a walk along the ridge walk.

East Bali

What To Do in Bali

What to Do In Bali

Gates of Heaven

Mt Agung

Royal Water Palace

Royal Water Palace, Bali

Tibumana Waterfall, Bali

East Bali

Tibumana Waterfall

Ubud, Bali

Ubud is home to the Sacred Monkey Forest – where wild monkeys roam the grounds, and it feels like you are walking through the Jungle Book (with much smaller monkeys). The monkeys will jump on you if you let them, otherwise you can just observe and take all the photos!

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

I think this one was trying to pick pocket Michael!

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud is also home to the famous Tegalalong rice paddies. There is an instagram famous swing that you can hop on to get a photo over the rice fields. It looks beautiful BUT there is a line and a ride on the swing will set you back about $40 AUD. There are lots of other photo ops that don’t require waiting in line. The entry fee is about $5 AUD per person for a walk through the rice paddies.

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

The ridge walk in Ubud is a fun – but very short – hike. It’s just 2 km, which is just over 1 mile. Still, it’s super hot, so make sure to bring water and a hat!

what to do in Bali

What to Do in Bali

We finished our trip with a day pass at Club Med Bali. I was a big fan of the adults only pool, but we explored the beach as well!

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

Club Med Bali

 

Let me know in the comments – have you ever been to Bali? If not, do you want to go after reading this?!

 

 

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Athens, Greece

After a whirlwind of Italian food and aperol spritz, Momsies and I flew from Rome to Athens, Greece. We had just two and a half days here, but we were determined to make the most of it.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

We stayed at the Plaka Hotel, which is in a fabulous little old quarter called Plaka. The Plaka Hotel has a rooftop bar, from which you can admire the Acropolis by night as you watch the sun go down and the ruins light up. This is a great wind down after a full day of walking around.

The Acropolis

This is the perfect place to stay, as Plaka is a super old village filled with the cutest cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and is walking distance from the Acropolis. I’d highly recommend staying here if you are visiting Athens.

Athens, Greece

We weren’t quite ready to brave the Acropolis on day one, so we spent the day at a restaurant recommendation – Little Kook. This is a themed cafe & dessert bar, and they go all out. The theme changes every few months, and when we visited, there was a Mary Poppins theme.

Little Kook Athens

Little Kook Athens

Little Kook Athens

Athens, Greece

The outside and inside of the restaurant was completely decked out.

We got a red velvet cake to share and a couple of aperol spritz. My mom was like a little kid at Disneyland – she was in her happy place.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

After Little Kook, we stopped at Quick Falafel for a falafel plate to share. We had traditional Greek pita, falafel, and hummus – yum!

Next, we walked through Plaka quarter and took all the photos.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens

Athens, Greece

For dinner, we went to a restaurant just across the street from our hotel, called Collage. Momsies got a local cocktail called Made in Lesvos, which we both quickly became obsessed with.

We ordered a bread trilogy to start, and quinoa salads for mains.

Collage Athens

Collage Athens

Collage Athens

The food was absolutely amazing, so good that we actually came here for dinner all three nights of our stay! We tried something different every night.

The Acropolis

The next day we were ready to brave the Acropolis. We woke up early, got ready, ate brekky at our hotel, and left by 7:30 AM. The Acropolis opens at 8 AM, and if you want to go crowd-free, I recommend getting there right when it opens. No one is in line to get tickets right at 8, so you can go in right away.

Acropolis

Hot tips for the Acropolis: wear sunscreen, bring lots of water, and bring snacks. You’ll be here for at least a couple of hours, and there is not much shade, no water, and no food sold inside.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

View from the Acropolis

The Acropolis

Acropolis

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

The Acropolis is a beautiful place, just make sure you come prepared with the essentials and be prepared for the crowds. It took a lot of waiting to get photos without other people in them, and a lot of the time when I was getting my photo taken, an entire tour group was watching. The things we do for the gram!

After three hours at the Acropolis, I had enough. Walking out, we grabbed two cold waters, and sat down at the nearest restaurant to eat our little hearts out.

Lunch In Athens

We spent the rest of the day with our feet up in our hotel room, chatting and having a rest. We finished our trip with dinner at Collage, and then got ready for our last adventure of this trip – Santorini!

Have you been to Athens? If not, is it on your list?

 

 

 

 

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Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Finally, after YEARS of drooling over photos of Positano, I made it there myself! This was my third visit to Italy, but my first time in the Amalfi Coast. On this trip, I was travelling with Momsies, and she picked the destination (she has great taste!).

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

How to Get to Positano

After two and a half days getting over jetlag in Rome, we hopped on the FrecciaRossa train and sped through Italy down to Salerno. From Salerno, you’ll just have to walk two streets over (a 3 min walk) and you’ll be at the ferry wharf. The ferry to Positano runs three times a day – 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM from Salerno. Travel time is just over an hour by ferry. Plus, the ferry sells drinks (prosecco, water, soda) and snacks on board. It’s a beautiful ride, I’d highly suggest the ferry!

Positano, Italy

Another option to get into Positano is to take the bus from Salerno. This will take a bit longer than the ferry, and to be honest will be much less enjoyable. The streets in Amalfi Coast are so small and windy, I’d recommend either a ferry or private transfer (we went with private transfer on the way back). I booked our transfer through a private company.

Once you get to Positano, find the main road and take the easy way up, instead of lugging your suitcases up the stairs (like we may have…).

Positano, Italy

Momsies and I spent three glorious days strolling through Positano, admiring the views, drinking limoncello and aperol spritz, and eating all the pasta and pizza we could fit in. We took all the photos, drank wine as we watched the sun go down, and tried loads of new restaurants, all with incredible views.

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Where to Stay

This time around, we found a cute little family run B&B called Florida Residences. It’s at the top of the hill, meaning you’ll have a bit of a hike from the city centre to get back to the hotel. Saying that, it is a great price and is run by the cutest little Italian family!

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Florida Residence is the cutest little pink building, and our room had an amazing balcony overlooking the city of Positano. I’d definitely recommend.

Where to Eat

One of the best things about Positano is the FOOD. Everything is locally made, Italian, fresh, and made with love. I ate some of the best food of my life here!

My favorite restaurants that we visited were:

Ristorante Caffe Positano, which was not too far from our hotel and had some of the best views. I had a pasta here and it was amazing. I’d highly recommend at least one meal here, preferable as the sun is setting or during the day – the views are just stunning.

Ristorante Da Gabrisa, which was just up the street from our hotel. This was the best meal I ate during our stay in Positano. I had the spaghetti and a vegan raspberry cheesecake for dessert – they have a separate page on the menu full of vegan goodies! They also have amazing views from the outside terrace.

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

Il Capitano Pizzeria was one of our lunch stops – we had a great pizza and aperol spritz after an early morning. It’s a great place if you’re staying on that side of town.

Next time I visit Positano, I will definitely be going to Chez Black – it’s on the beach and makes your pizza into the shape of a heart, if you ask nice enough!

There is a little healthy restaurant called Casa E Bottega on the main road that I have also added to my list.

Positano, Italy

Collina Positano Bakery is where we got our morning americano and cappuccino. They have a mouth watering selection of baked goods, but we were still full from our hotel brekky most mornings.

What To Do

When you’re not eating, make sure to pop in to the boutique shops. There are lots of beautiful, handmade clothes, purses, and hats. If you’re more into relaxing, take a stroll down to the beach and lay underneath the colourful umbrellas on a sunny day.

Positano, Italy

Important Notes on Positano

Please note that though I used to do lots of budget travel, Positano is NOT a budget destination. Hotels start from minimum $400 USD per night, and a meal out (with drinks) will cost about $40 – $50 USD per person. Though it isn’t cheap, it is an absolutely stunning destination, and I would highly recommend a visit.

I went in May, and the weather was very temperamental. The week before we visited, it was warm and people were swimming. While we were there, it was windy, rainy, and sunny. If you are looking for a beachy holiday, I’d recommend visiting later in the summer, like June or July.

Have you been to Positano? Is it on your bucket list?

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