Nestled in the hills of Matavera on the island of Rarotonga, the Ikurangi Eco Retreat is the first purpose built eco accommodation on the island. As soon as you step into the retreat you’re in an oasis of tranquillity and relaxation. You can feel the love that the owners and employees put into this place.
We stayed for 4 nights and cannot wait to share with you our honest review of the Ikurangi Eco Retreat!
With a total of just six rooms, the small scale of the Ikurangi Eco Retreat gives a more personal and exclusive stay. Having stayed in a few eco retreats in the past, this one surpasses all with their eco initiative. With the focus on minimising the effect on the environment, here are a few things the Ikurangi Eco Retreat uses/does to increase sustainability.
The use of shallow foundations for the decking, composting toilets, naturally sustainably sourced materials, natural and biodegradable toiletries and cleaning products, and free bicycles to use throughout your stay.
In addition, they use their own produce to make jam and source locally made products such as muffins, bread and croissants.
As part of their commitment to sustainability, the Ikurangi Eco Retreat donates 5% of all their profits to local conservation projects around the Cook Islands. We love this initiative, as giving back is an important concept.
There are three room types at the Ikurangi Eco Retreat. You have the choice between a Luxury Safari Glamping Tent, a Tropical Are or the Ariki Safari Tent (perfect for honeymooners and couples). All room types are outstanding, however we only experienced the luxury safari tents, which is what this review is based on. We highly recommend this option if you’re wanting a real eco experience whilst not substituting luxury.
The luxury safari tents are placed on elevated wooden platforms and are the same style as a real safari tent that you would get in a luxurious African bush lodge. The bathroom area is open air, with a powerful shower, his/her sinks and a biodegradable toilet.
There is no air-conditioning, but all the doors and windows can stay open throughout the day (yes, they’ve got high quality mosquito nets on them) and the fan does a great job. Even in summer, we enjoyed a nice room temperature day and night. You can make the luxury tent as open or private as you’d like.
The room itself comes with great amenities including cold refillable bottled water, fridge to keep all your food cool, locally sourced tea & coffee, a locking safe, two bath robes and a yoga mat for when you feel like a relaxing break.
Another highlight is the tropical breakfast delivered to your room every morning. It’s made from locally grown items, either on-site or from the village. During the four days of our stay, we enjoyed delicious things like bananas, blueberries, pineapples, as well as freshly made fruit muffins, croissants, yoghurt or orange juice. To date, it’s one of the tastiest hotel breakfasts we’ve had! Breakfast is delivered to your balcony every morning between 8-8:30am unless specified the day before, and the breakfast can be enjoyed either in bed or on the balcony of your tent.
Rarotonga is a fairly small island, but there is a lot to do. First of all, you’ve got beaches all around the island. Lots of them have great snorkelling spots along the reef too, in addition Ikurangi offers complimentary snorkel and mask here. You’ll also find that a lot of companies offer very reasonably priced diving trips as well. When we visited, if you’ve got your PADI, they were offering a trip with 2 dives for NZD$99.
Besides the usual water-based activities, like kayaking and snorkelling, there are other activities like cycling tours on offer, or tropical gardens as well as a waterfall to be explored. You can also go on different guided or self-guided hikes to the mountainous centre of Rarotonga.
One of the cultural villages is also a popular albeit pricey experience, where you can learn about the local culture and enjoy dinner and shows in the evening.
There’s even some nightlife to enjoy, with several bars, a few nightclubs and a party bus.
Reception will gladly book these activities for you if necessary.
There is a small pool surrounded by a beautiful tropical greenery and rockery, with numerous sun loungers around the pool area just a few steps away from all rooms. It’s a perfect temperature, not too cold but very refreshing on a hot day, and was cleaned every morning.
The ocean is about a 10-minute walk away, but most likely you’ll be renting one of their free bicycles or a scooter / car anyway, which will allow you to easily reach all the beautiful beaches around Rarotonga.
A few highlights and our recommendations for beautiful beaches are:
- Titikevaka Beach near the Little Polynesian.
- Muri Lagoon
- Black Rock Beach near the airport
- Aroa Beach
Location / How To Get Here / Surroundings
The Ikurangi Eco Retreat is located on the north-eastern coast of Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands.
The gateway to the Cook Islands and Rarotonga is generally Auckland (New Zealand) with several flights every day on Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Jetstar. There are also weekly flights from Sydney, Los Angeles, and Tahiti.
Once landed, don’t rely on taxis, as they are not allowed to enter the airport and generally there are only a few around the island. You can pre-book transfers through the hotel or speak to one of the bus transfer operators at arrivals. Expect to pay between 15 and 30 NZ$ per person depending on the service provider and the location of your hotel.
You could also get the public bus, which runs around the island every 30 to 60 minutes in both directions (clockwise and anti-clockwise). You can flag it down anywhere along the main road (for example just outside the airport) and ask the driver to drop you at Takitumu School for the Ikurangi Eco Retreat, from there it’s a short 10-minute walk to the retreat.
The final option would be a rental car/bike. You can park directly at the Ikurangi Eco Retreat after a 10 to 15-minute drive from the airport.
The Ikurangi Eco Retreat is the perfect escape if you’re wanting a secluded getaway, a stunning back-drop of mountains and a full eco experience without compromising on luxury. We loved every minute of our stay here, and wouldn’t think twice about booking the Ikurangi Eco Retreat again on our next visit to Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.
Booking Your Stay At Ikurangi Eco Retreat
You can check details and latest rates Hotels.com.
Alternatively visit their website directly at Ikurangi Eco Retreat to book direct.
Don’t just take our word for it though, check out their immaculate reviews on Tripadvisor.
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