Rarotonga for the solo female traveller

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It was an icy July morning at Christchurch Airport when I made my way to the gate to catch a flight to Rarotonga. 

The very first of hopefully many Pacific Island getaways, I was excited and hopeful, and longing for a bit of sunshine to warm me up as we boarded the plane.

As a lifelong solo traveller, I couldn’t help but notice the plane was full of couples and families, equally excited for a tropical holiday.

Alone as usual, I sighed and sat back in my seat, settling into a new podcast for the relatively short flight, not bothered in the least. I was ready for a new adventure.

Perfect for the intrepid solo traveler, Ikurangi Eco Retreat is the first purpose-built, eco glamping option in the Cook Islands.

Liz Carlson

Perfect for the intrepid solo traveler, Ikurangi Eco Retreat is the first purpose-built, eco glamping option in the Cook Islands.

READ MORE:
* Travel to the Cook Islands: Paradise is just 4 hours away
* Twenty reasons to visit Rarotonga
* Best holiday: Rarotonga paradise

The Little Polynesian Resort in Rarotonga includes a private beach.

Liz Carlson

The Little Polynesian Resort in Rarotonga includes a private beach.

The past few years have seen a massive increase in solo female travellers and now, more than any time before, women are more than likely to book an adventure on their own.

If you’re looking to travel solo for the first time outside New Zealand, Rarotonga is the perfect place to start. Reasonably safe and easy to navigate – after all it’s less than 70 square kilometres in size – here you can hone your skills and learn some helpful life-lessons without dire consequences.

Nothing beats the sunsets on Rarotonga.

Liz Carlson

Nothing beats the sunsets on Rarotonga.

While everyone thinks of Rarotonga for its stunning beaches (and rightly so), don’t forget that it also boasts a stunning tropical jungle.

Just inland from the sea, you can experience waking up amongst the forest with views of the mountains at Ikurangi Eco Retreat. A place where luxury and sustainability intersect, here you can have the experience of glamping, waking up to birdsong and the swaying palm trees – a true Cook Islands view. A veritable tropical garden overlooked by the mighty Mount Ikurangi, you have all the luxuries of a fancy hotel packaged up in a one-of-a-kind way in a flash safari tent.

While everyone thinks of Rarotonga for its stunning beaches (and rightly so), don't forget that it also boasts a stunning tropical jungle.

Liz Carlson

While everyone thinks of Rarotonga for its stunning beaches (and rightly so), don’t forget that it also boasts a stunning tropical jungle.

One of the greatest things I love about solo travel is the opportunity to meet new people. I find it’s much easier to make friends and meet like minded travellers when I’m travelling alone, than when I’m with other people. And of course, travelling solo means you never have to compromise, which is pretty awesome.

Landing in a place like Rarotonga, I make sure to sign up for some group activities, both to keep my budget down and for the chance to take in some adventures with new people. Do your research and pick a few guided day trips or activities with locals to get to know the island once you arrive. For example, Storytellers eco-cycling tours takes you around and give you a taste for the real Raro you might not discover on your own.

Encircled by a stunning coral reef, Rarotonga is a hotspot for diving and snorkeling.

Liz Carlson

Encircled by a stunning coral reef, Rarotonga is a hotspot for diving and snorkeling.

A keen scuba diver, I was stoked for the chance to head out to the reefs with local company the Big Fish Dive Centre for a day out on the water.

With crystal clear warm waters and killer visibility, I couldn’t wait to descend and get to experience Rarotonga’s incredible underwater world. Here you can learn to dive and paddle around in the shallow lagoon ,or head further afield like I did to the marine reserve. From many rays to little reef sharks to lionfish and moray eels to tiny nudibranches, the sealife on the Cook Islands is phenomenal.

If diving isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of snorkelling opportunities literally right on your doorstep.

The writer travelled to Rarotonga with the assistance of Cook Islands Tourism and Virgin Australia.

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