Best Family-Friendly Beaches In Rarotonga: Sun, Sand, And Fun For All Ages

Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands, and for a South Pacific Island that's little more than 10km across it has squid-llions of the best beaches you and the kids can discover and explore.

A boy wearing  a mask and snorkel stands in a lagoon holding up a sea urchin

2min read

Published 14 March 2024


Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands, and for a South Pacific Island that's little more than 10km across it has squid-llions of the best beaches you and the kids can discover and explore.

Because the entire island is ringed by reef, all the best Rarotonga family beaches offer swimming, snorkelling and splashing about to your heart’s content in the perpetually calm waters of its gin-clear lagoons. Most of the stays on Rarotonga are within a short amble of the beaches, whether you prefer a resort or seeking accommodation a little more private. 

So slap on your sunscreen, slip on some reef shoes and let’s paddle around some beaches, beaches and more beaches, and have a look at the best beaches in Rarotonga … 

1. Aro’a Beach: Snorkelling Heaven

The enchanting Aroa Beach on Rarotonga's western side is a paradise tailor-made for families with young children. With its feet in the sand, the Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa offers an idyllic retreat, where the pristine lagoon meets warm, white powdery bliss. 

Introduce your little ones to the wonders of nature with gentle swimming in the crystal-clear waters and discover a kaleidoscope of marine life while snorkelling in the great lagoon. 

Aroa Beach lies within the Aroa Marine Reserve and is one of Rarotonga’s best beaches for snorkelling opportunities, providing a safe and magical underwater world for older kids to explore. The western aspect ensures spectacular sunsets over the ocean, creating unforgettable moments for everyone. 

This tropical haven seamlessly combines relaxation with adventure, promising the perfect family holiday. 

An aerial view of the Muri beach area and islets surrounded by a lagoon
An aerial view of the Muri beach area and islets surrounded by a lagoon
An aerial view of the Muri beach area and islets surrounded by a lagoon

2. Muri Beach: Resorts And Cruises

Amongst a hub of resorts, hotels and restaurants, and by far Rarotonga’s most popular R & R spot, Muri Beach is perfect for families with young children. The Muri beach area on the south-eastern side of the island includes several islets (motu) draped in palm trees, creating a harmonious blend of sun-soaked, sandy shores and turquoise waters. Immerse your family in the wonders of Muri lagoon enjoying one of the Koka Lagoon Cruises, providing an unforgettable journey to spy the diverse marine life from moray eels to sea turtles. 

Muri Beach stands out as one of the best beaches in Rarotonga, providing a safe and idyllic setting for children to play and explore - and for parents to truly relax resort style. 

The crystal-clear waters invite leisurely swims, snorkelling and stand-up paddle boarding while the many nearby accommodation options mean you can stay close and put this doozy of a beach on your doorstep. 

Muri Beach promises an unparalleled escape, combining the beauty of the island, safe swimming, and the magic of Rarotonga's stunning lagoon. 

3. Titikaveka Beach: A Secret 'Best Beach' Among The Trees

Just around the corner from Muri Beach on the southern coast of Rarotonga, Titikaveka Beach is a playground your little ones will never forget, offering a perfect blend of sun, sea, and smiles. 

Backed on to lush coconut tree forested areas, this slice of island paradise is a game-changer for young explorers. Picture this: shallow waters, soft sandy shores, and a lagoon that's practically begging for some family splash time or a lagoon cruise. 

The real magic happens when you peek beneath the surface – the vibrant fish in the lagoon turn it into a natural ocean aquarium. It's like an underwater treasure hunt! 

No wonder this island gem was voted one of the top 25 beaches to visit in the South Pacific on TripAdvisor. 

A white sandy beach flanked by azure waters on one side and coconut palms on the other
A white sandy beach flanked by azure waters on one side and coconut palms on the other
A white sandy beach flanked by azure waters on one side and coconut palms on the other

4. Tikioki Beach: A Family Oasis By The Coral Gardens

Tikioki Beach, situated on Rarotonga's southern coast, beckons families to swim with its tranquil charm. The inviting lagoon, with its clear waters, is safe for kids to splash and play. 

The beach is famed for its Coral Gardens, offering a mesmerising underwater world where children can spot colourful fish, creating a great snorkelling experience. 

Tikioki's calm waves and vibrant marine life make it an ideal spot for families seeking both relaxation and aquatic adventures. 

5. Nikao Beach: Your Family's Tropical Playground

Nikao Beach, located on the northern shore, is a hidden gem for parents and young adventurers.

The gentle waves make for perfect conditions to swim, and the beach's serene atmosphere provides a peaceful retreat. The lagoon's shallow depths spell no end of fun for those on little legs.

Nikao's idyllic setting, combined with its kid-friendly features, makes it a great beach for families looking to relax and unwind on the shores of Rarotonga. 

6. Black Rock Beach: Sunset Strolls And Family Bonding

Black Rock Beach, positioned on the western coast, is unique among Rarotonga's best beaches for its blend of natural beauty and cultural significance. Known locally as Tuoro, Black Rock is the island's traditional departure point of the spirits of the dead as they journey back to their homeland, Avaiki.

Parents can take leisurely ocean sunset strolls along the sandy shores while sharing stories of the island's rich history with their kids.

The pristine waters and gentle waves make swimming easy fun for the little ones. Black Rock's iconic volcanic formations create a picturesque backdrop, adding an extra layer of charm to this family-friendly spot. 

Lagoon cruise boats moored on the sandy shore
Lagoon cruise boats moored on the sandy shore
Lagoon cruise boats moored on the sandy shore

7. Matavera Beach: A Tranquil Haven For Family Retreats

Matavera Beach, nestled on the east coast, welcomes families seeking a tranquil escape. The lagoon's calm and clear waters provide a safe environment for kids to swim and play.

The beach's laid-back ambiance and pristine sands make it a great spot for beach games like building sandcastles and enjoying quality family time. Matavera's scenic beauty and peaceful surroundings ensure a relaxing stay for parents and a delightful playground for their little ones. 

8. Papa’aroa Beach: Secluded Bliss For Families

What makes Papa'aroa Beach extra special for families is the provision of picnic tables right along the shoreline. The beach, located away from the bustling crowds on the south side of the island, offers families a secluded haven on the southern tip of Rarotonga. 

The lagoon's gentle embrace invites kids to dip into the clear waters and discover the playful world beneath the surface. Parents can unwind on the soft, white sand while their children explore the beach's natural wonders. 

Papa’aroa's secluded charm provides the perfect backdrop for a peaceful family retreat, away from the usual hustle and bustle. 

Just a quick note about this and other beaches located on the southern shore of Rarotonga. While the beaches and nearby shallow, calm waters are as safe as anywhere, watch for signage along the coast that warn of strong currents caused by tidal flows near a couple of reef passages further out. 

9. Motu Koromiri Beach: A Tropical Escape For Adventurous Families

Motu Koromiri Beach, situated on the northern tip of the island, caters to families seeking a touch of adventure.

The beach's pristine lagoon is a haven for swimming and any number of beach activities. Its surrounding coral formations invite kids to explore the diverse marine life.

Families can embark on aquatic adventures and water sports, from snorkeling to paddleboarding, making Motu Koromiri an exciting destination for those who crave both relaxation and exploration. 

An islet on the horizon of glassy-still lagoon
An islet on the horizon of glassy-still lagoon
An islet on the horizon of glassy-still lagoon

10. Aorangi Beach: Where Family Fun Meets Serenity

Aorangi Beach, positioned on the west coast, seamlessly combines family fun with the island's serene beauty. The lagoon's calm waters offer a safe playground for kids to enjoy swimming and water activities. 

Parents can bask in the tranquil atmosphere while keeping an eye on their little ones at play. Aorangi's golden sands and stunning sunset views create a magical setting for families, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and shared adventures whether it's high tide or low tide. 

11. Choosing The Perfect Family Beach Retreat In Rarotonga

Rarotonga's diverse beaches cater to the desires of families with young children, providing a range of experiences from serene relaxation to exciting underwater discovery - especially snorkeling in a marine reserve! 

Whether it's the Coral Gardens at Tikioki, the cultural significance of Black Rock, or the secluded bliss of Papa’aroa, each beach offers a unique blend of natural beauty, safe swimming, and opportunities for family bonding. Many even have resorts or restaurants right on the edge of the sand. 

Embrace the magic of Rarotonga's shores, where the island's charm unfolds in harmony with the laughter of kids enjoying a paradise playground like no other. 

12. Tips For your Trip

  • Pack reef shoes for yourself and the kids as the coral sands of the island's beaches can be a little coarse on soft feet. 
  • No Cook Islands holiday would be complete without a Saturday morning outing to Rarotonga's Punanga Nui Markets. This is the best place to takes a break from the beaches and sample the island's delicious local fruits, quench little thirsts with drinking coconuts, shop for clothes and get an authentic Polynesian cultural experience.  
  • While accommodation options on the island are reasonably priced for a family holiday – and offer plenty of choice from island resort stays, hotels, motels and holiday homes – non-local food products from stores and supermarkets come at an extra cost as a result of being imported. 

Decided You Love The Cook Islands?

If your visit to the beaches of Rarotonga has won you and the kids over for another visit, venture off the beaten track a little on your next visit and take in the island of Aitutaki. The best beaches here include the impossibly idyllic One Foot island and Ootu Beach with its postcard-perfect swaying palm trees, clear blue skies, and iconic overwater bungalows adding to the postcard-perfect landscape.

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