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Te Vakaroa Villas, Rarotonga, review: Cook Islands Pacific paradise

TIME : 2016/2/26 15:57:30

Te Vakaroa Villas, Rarotonga, review: Cook Islands Pacific paradise

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Our rating

4.5 out of 5

It doesn't take much to relax in the luxury of a Pacific paradise, writes Sheriden Rhodes.


Arriving into the Cook Islands just after sunrise, we're ushered in to Te Vakaroa Villas, weary and in search of a bed. The luxe tropical hideaway is tucked down a dirt road off Rarotonga's main drag. The contemporary-style accommodation is entered through a wooden security gate leading into lush tropical gardens, filled with banana trees, coconut palms and a fishpond in a massive upturned tub. All we want to do is flop into bed, but first we open the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors revealing expansive views over Muri Lagoon across the infinity pool. We drift off to sleep, our villa filled with the perfume of our ei kaki flower garlands.


Designed by one of New Zealand's leading architects, Laurence Sumich, Te Vakaroa has six one- and two-bedroom villas set in a low-rise building fronting the beach. The property blends in with its tropical surrounds, thanks to the use of wooden joinery, local timber and coral rock. A gorgeous infinity pool and jacuzzi front the mesmerising Muri Lagoon (I'm not exaggerating) framed by a glass fence. The decked area surrounding the pool features a cabana, comfy beanbags and smart striped sun loungers – a good spot to watch the passing stand-up paddle boarders. There's a reception office on-site with staff on call 24 hours, and complimentary kayaks and snorkelling equipment. 


The ultimate in beachside chic with an unbeatable location right on Muri Lagoon.

Sheriden Rhodes

The downstairs one-bedroom villas are 93 square metres  and feature a luxury en suite bathroom and a large living area with European-styled kitchen and smart furnishings. Not that you'll spend much time indoors. Our preference was taking a magazine and glass of wine out on to the large private verandah overlooking the pool and lagoon.

There's an additional small courtyard directly off the bedroom overhung with tropical foliage, but we never ventured out there – not with those heavenly views on offer outside the front door. 

If you're travelling with older kids (12+) or friends, book the upstairs two-bedroom villas, with even more superlative views of the lagoon, two super-king beds, three bathrooms and two en suites. At 170 square metres, these two-level villas are stylish and spacious. Each bedroom has its own private balcony with views of the lagoon or jungle-clad mountains. The living area is downstairs and there's an inviting day bed on the verandah for afternoon siestas.


Many of Rarotonga's accommodation options err on the dated side, meaning Te Vakaroa's five-star villas stand out from the crowd. All villas are airconditioned with ceiling fans and insect screening. There's a flat screen satellite TV with DVD and CD player, and work desk. Bathrooms feature bathrobes, hairdryer and beach towels and there's a washer and drier adjacent to the kitchen. For those not wanting to eat out every meal, a fully equipped kitchen has dishwasher, fridge and freezer, microwave, gas hob, gas oven and filtered water. All beds are super king with feather down pillows and Egyptian cotton bed linen. Leave the doors open and fall asleep to the sound of distant waves crashing on the reef: instantly soporific. 


There's no restaurant on site, however breakfast is delivered on a tray to your room each morning with a knock on the door. Breakfast features warm  just baked muffins, croissants or bread from the local bakery, along with cereal and juice. Dining and bar facilities are available at Sails Restaurant adjacent to the villas or meals can be sourced from Sails' room service menu if you simply can't prise yourself off the day bed.  


There are many good restaurants within walking distance including Rickshaw for Asian cuisine in a pretty garden setting and Le Bon Vivant, a French-inspired bakery with drool-worthy pastries. For a special night out, book a table for sunset drinks and dinner at the fabulous Tamarind House. The night markets at Muri Beach are colourful and fun. Be sure to take in a Highland Paradise cultural show and swim and snorkel in the magical lagoon just steps from the villas.


The ultimate in beachside chic with an unbeatable location right on Muri Lagoon, Te Vakaroa is ideal for independent couples, families with older children (12 and over) or groups of friends travelling together. The only black mark is the exorbitant cost of the Wi-Fi. 


Air New Zealand flies direct from Sydney to Rarotonga each Saturday (flights connect through Auckland on other days). Phone 13 24 76, see Te Vakaroa is an about 15-20 minutes' drive from the airport.


Te Vakaroa Villas are priced from $790  a night, including tropical breakfast daily, complimentary transfers for bookings of five nights or more and welcome fruit platter. See