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Rarotonga Backpackers
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 October 2010

Great hostel, ariving from LA without accomodation we decided to look for a hostel/hotel after ariving. Rain pooring from the sky upon arrival limited our options to hostels having pickup. We listened to their offer en gambled on Rarotonga backpacker booking 1 night, staying 5. The hostel has 2locations both with pool. 1 on the beach 1 in the hill 10min walking apart. While the beach one is slightly more expensive, busier and smaller it is the popular 1. For no other reason then being perfect for lazy people being afraid of a 5 min walk to the beach (for which other beaches are better anyways. The hostel in the hill is the better one, big living amazing view! Rooms are nice but small 44nzd for a double. Staff cleans everyday and is very friendly. Free bananas are a nice courtesy. Make sure to visit the island migration 12 nzd with taxi. Nothing like the tourist trap I expected it to be.

Freek en Irena

The Netherlands

  • Stayed: October 2010
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Thank FreekTeije
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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119 - 125 of 178 reviews

Reviewed 11 October 2010

I was surprised to read such mixed reviews. Perhaps this is due to the varied accommodation options, don’t miss a great place by thinking it is just a backpackers.

We stay in one of the 4 sunset coast self contained beachfront studio units. We were the first in, just as Paul finished building them, six years ago, and we have come back annually in Sept ever since. We have never been tempted by any of the other beachside accommodation options offered elsewhere. I’ll explain why, since not everyone wants the same thing.

The beach chalets (as we call them) are built on poles. This means they are the best value whale viewing platforms on the coast. One year we saw whales 6 days out of the 7 days we were there. The chalets are private since people on the beach cannot see into your room, yet they are so close to the sea you could chuck a coconut in from the verandah. The shady area underneath the chalets is ideal for hot afternoons, relax or snooze in a hammock, cool and comfortable, with the gentle breeze from the lagoon chasing off even the odd mosquito. The area is also a lovely dry spot to relax ‘outdoors’ in a prolonged period of rain (yes it DOES rain, get real).. Available to anyone staying at the backpackers, the area is a good communal spot to casually chat to other people.

This coast has a number of small and large resorts strung along the beach over a few km north and south of the backpackers. Many have restaurants which can be dined at on BBQ/island nights. Part of our Raro experience is to walk along the beach to one of these, enjoying the lovely sunset as we go, then to walk back by moonlight or torchlight. No worries about ‘drinking and driving’ – and you can off course come back by road.

Behind the chalets are the beachhuts – ensuite. Paul built these 2 years after we started coming here and they are a more reasonably priced option for couples happy to share kitchen facilities but wanting their own space. Behind them is the backpackers with its outdoor deck and the swimming pool. Whenever we have been into the backpackers to use the phone or borrow some kitchen item, it has been clean and tidy.

The backpackers has an office, with some helpful person on duty at reasonable hours who ‘knows’ everything you need to know. It is very convenient to be able to hire a scooter, right there.

So what is the catch? Ah, maybe it is the sea the sea. Raro has stretches of lagoon around the island that are marine reserves. In these, the fish are often plentiful and there are some impressive patches of coral. The stretch in front of the backpackers is not a reserve so there only a few fish there and the coral is mostly dead getting pounded regularly by the sea. It is also shallow so it is not suitable for swimming or snorkeling. However we really enjoy sitting on our verandah, spectators as the locals walking through the lagoon and out on the reef hunting for octopus and other sea life. Naturally it helps if you remembered your binoculars (for the whales) to see what they catch. When the sea is calm I too like to walk out to the reef and wander along investigating the pools.

NB: There is a great public snorkelling and swimming beach, with a shower, about 2 km south just part The Rarotongan Hotel.

Another catch (for you) might be that the chalet/huts are not serviced, there is no hibiscus flower placed on your pillow everyday, nor are they 100% perfect. You might find that your shower door is a bit stiff to shut – but it does shut. You might find that something you would expect in your cutlery drawer is missing, don’t stress, just get one from the backpackers. Indeed you will find that if you do not clear up after yourself the ants will do it for you. Your verandah table and chairs are plastic not wood. A fact of life is that things do not last long in the tropics.

The last catch worth mentioning is ‘other people’ and dogs. The backpackers is on a public beach, anyone can wander along it and so can dogs. In fact we recognize the dogs now – from 3 to 6 or 7 of them regularly accompany anyone walking on the beach. They can be chased off, but they often hang about on the beach near the backpackers looking for a friend. If they are not encouraged, they are not a problem (quiet and unobtrusive) , but you can’t know your ‘quoto’ of other people in any one holiday. If the dogs get excited by a group of people on the beach at night – they howl. Oh yes, there was a cat one year, the cat wasn’t there this year, I don’t think it knew the rules. I am not keen on animals, but none of our holidays have yet been spoilt by nuisance dogs or nuisance people for that matter.

We love staying here, we like the falicities, we like the location, we like the beach, we like the varied people who stay, we love the view and the hammocks, we like all the people who run the place and make things easy for us - and do a great value BBQ.. If you are not ‘precious’, you do not want a 'sanitised' holiday, and you have some small level of tolerance you will love it too.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank blueclam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 September 2010

We arrived early in the morning, 1.10am. Picked up straight away and taken to our unit. We had booked the self contained beachside studio unit. Closed the curtains and straight to sleep. At first we thought it would be hard to sleep as the ocean was right there and seemed so loud. That was a silly thought, we fell asleep straight away and by the morning the sound of the ocean seemed as normal as breathing. The curtains kept the light out completely which was great as it gets light early.

The unit was clean, spacious and the little deck out front was perfect to sit and eat our meals while watching the ocean. We were very lucky to be there at the right time of the year and so we got to watch the whales swim past most days and sometimes both at morning while having breakfast and at night eating dinner.

Could not have asked for a more perfect loaction. We have been to Raro three times now and do not like being in the busy areas so this was great. Nothing is foo far away, especially when you hire the must have motor scooters. We could even walk home along the beach at night from one of the restaurants we went to.

We did have an ant problem, they even went for our soap, so we had to keep everything either in the fridge or wrapped up tight but they still got into the dougnuts - a must buy while there - and since they were little brown ones they were hard to see on the food, but you could see the trail leading to where they were at. We did not have any spray and never got around to asking for any so had to be very careful.

Rhiannan was very nice and helpful for anything we wanted. The books in the office for us to read was a nice touch. Lying in the hammocks under the unit was just bliss. The room did not get cleaned while we were there, I presume this is normal, but we just asked for towells etc when we needed them. Did our own cooking in our unit but if needed anything more we could just go to the dorms and use the utensils, but we never had to.

We were lucky in that there were no noisy neighbours in the units or the dorms. It was lovely at sunset every night when most of us would just go and sit on the sand and watch the sun go down. There were little pockets of us all around the sand or on our decks and just watching the sun while drinking your wine etc.

My husband and I highly recommend Rarotongan Backpackers, it helped make a perfect holiday.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank nzwestie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 September 2010

We stayed four days in one of the Beach Huts. The insect screens were effective, plenty of power sockets, good fridge (with ice box), good ensuite with solar powered shower (towels supplied, but not soap), comfy bed (with sheets & pillows), and ceiling fan (essential!). Be prepared to give $20 key deposit (refunded when you leave). The pool doesn't have steps, so nobody uses it, but it's nice to sit around. The hammocks under the beach huts (right on beach edge) are great to sit under with a book, and to watch the sunsets from.
We didn't check out the hillside place, so can't comment on what it's like.

Other reviews mention that the pickup from the airport isn't very cheerful. Well, when it's early hours of the morning, all you really want is to get there and get to bed for sleep. My experience was a little disappointing as the pickup van had already left, so we had to wait for her to come back, and then she disappeared. We later found out we were waiting for someone due on the next flight - which they weren't on the flight - so we didn't get to leave until after the second plane load had all gone through and they didn't turn up. It wasn't pleasant arriving at midnight and not leaving airport til 1.30am - but it was free, and we had no other choice but to wait.

Tip #1- take a torch for getting around at night, as they don't light the grounds at all.
Tip #2- take cooking & eating utensils, and a non-stick pan if you need one. The only frying pan they have there is a heavy cast iron one.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank tessB2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 July 2010

I've read maybecrazy's review with much interest as they got our beach house after we had booked it in May 2009 to ensure we had it! We were emailed confirmation that the beach house was booked and would be met at the airport. It wasn't until I emailed them a few months later that we were told they had lost the booking and gave us discount at a new property they had got at Matavera. So it sort of looks like losing our booking did us a favour. HOWEVER! (and this review is a lot more balanced than had I wrote it just after we left. time is a healer!) Despite the owners being very nice and we were picked up at the airport and dropped off, our first night was spent combatting big fat cockroaches which freaked me out. The owners came round the next day, got us cockroach traps, a TV (which got no reception sadly) and fixed the window that didn't lock. Some of the window slats didn't shut and some of the insect screens were torn. The studio is right on the beach but we had to clear the top half of stones to make it halfway decent plus other aesthetic touches! The studio itself was a bit grimy and if it had been cleaned then I wasn't happy until I had blitzed the place myself as it was dusty and dirty in places. A nice decking area out back which was nicer than the inside, the hubby is more forgiveable about it! It is also fairly remote so you need a car or a bike. The nearest shop is 24/7 is a 10min walk away, there is a nearer store with dubious sell by dates in it. Storage of food a bit of an issue as no decent cupboard and due to cockroaches and the odd spell of ants we had to shove everything in the fridge including the cereal! The bus doesn't stop but hitch hiking possible which we found was ok, but always take care if you do this. You can't mess about in the sea as the reef surrounds the island so it isn't safe where the waves break. A beachfront studio fringed with palm trees really should have been ideal but it just didn't turn out to be the relaxing holiday we wanted. Can't fault the owners for trying but they need to tart it up a bit more to make the place a lot nicer even for a budget conscious backpacker. Would only recommend to someone that was aware of the faults. Hopefully the owners will continue to spruce the place up so it eventually becomes a lovely little place.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank HubbysNumpty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 July 2010

We stayed in the beach house for 8 days. It wasn't actually that bad of a place to stay, nice location on the beach and the owners were friendly enough, however we were unfortunate to share the hostel with some very loud, obnoxious and inconsiderate young males who were on an extended stay. These people seemed to be completely obvious to the volume of their own voices and to the fact that the walls were very thin. Despite the fact they appeared to be in their 20's they all acted like they were about 14. They were up making noise at 3 am most nights and also left a huge mess in the kitchen everyday. There were signs from management saying if we had complained about these people they would have been kicked out without a warning, but we didn't want to be responsible for having these people kicked out, we would have preferred a warning been given - i don't think they were even aware of how annoying they were being.

While staying here we weren't to worried about the lack of cleanliness, figuring we got what we paid for, however after leaving we stayed at Maiana's guest house for the same price, and that was far, far cleaner not to mention quieter, and they gave us free fruit as well.

Don't stay here if you want a quiet vacation, it's more suited to noisy, inconsiderate teenagers who just want to party, or people who still act like noisy, inconsiderate teenagers.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank maybecrazy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 June 2010

I stayed at the Backpackers Beachhouse in March 2010 with 3 mates. We were there for 2 weeks and had a great time.

The rooms were basic but all we needed were mattresses and pillows. The bathroom was large and clean. the kitchen was clean.

The house is in a very quiet location and is metres from the waters edge. We took some fantastic sunset photos from here.

The issue of security wasnt a problem as the owners have recently put new screens on the windows and we were very conscious of protecting our valuables.

I would recommend it to people looking for a budget holiday.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Trevor R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rarotonga Backpackers

Address: PO Box 3103, Arorangi, Cook Islands
Region: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Rarotonga > Arorangi
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Arorangi
Number of rooms: 63
Also Known As:
Rarotonga Backpackers Hotel Arorangi
Rarotonga Backpackers Cook Islands

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