The real winner: The waterfront patio at Sea Change, Rarotonga. Photo / Dan Ahwa
Location: South of Rarotonga in the quiet area of Takitimu in the village of Titikaveka, known for its turquoise lagoons and white sand beaches. 15 km from the airport.
Style: Independent villas all with their own private swimming pools. Choose between 1-2 bedroom villas set in a lush garden setting or 1-2 bedroom beachfront villas. kitchenette and a private freshwater pool.
Perfect for: Couples who want to do their own thing away from resort life, solo travelers, groups of friends.
First impressions: We arrive on a Friday evening, and we are supported by a transfer service. Even at 100% occupancy, the surrounding villas are quiet and discreet. We enter through the back of the villa and see first our private pool and then into our villa where we find bottled water in souvenir foil bottles and a large charcuterie platter – the perfect light snack after our trip . The villa is tastefully decorated with fresh flowers. Reception is open during the day for a limited time so any concerns and questions should be raised the next morning – none of which we had. Clean, spacious, well lit. You’ll have to keep the screen doors closed, especially at night, as there were lots of tiny gnats flying around the deck.
Rooms: The bed is a four poster firm king size bed with fresh linens. It is an open-plan villa, so the bedroom faces the living room which is adjacent to the open kitchenette. The only private rooms are the dressing room which takes you into a large bathroom with shower. Possibly for ventilation purposes, but the bathroom ceiling does not rise all the way, so although not entirely noise-private, the open plan design is not compromised . The real winner is the beach view that you can see from the bed at all hours, or from your private deck on a lounge chair. Like the majority of this side of Rarotonga, it’s super quiet, although you may hear the odd rooster in the distance for your early morning wake-up call. Otherwise the sound of crashing waves is about the only “noise” we noticed – and the passing of scooters on the main road.
Bathroom: The bathroom has a double sink, perfect for couples and comes with Rito skincare products made in the Cook Islands, including shower gel, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner (these are also available for purchase at reception). There are plenty of spare towels and extra amenities you can request with housekeeping and fluffy white bathrobes.
Food and drink: Self-contained means essentials are available, but you’ll need to head to the local supermarket (Wigmores store, open 6am-10pm) or Avarua, the main town center, to stock up. There is a Nespresso coffee maker, kettle and a selection of tea and French press coffee, plus fresh Kibble rye bread, butter and jam, cereal packets, butter and eggs if you wish to take your breakfast on the terrace. We hopped on a few bikes available at reception and went to Charlies Cafe and Little Polynesian for lunch and dinner (call early to make a reservation for Little Polynesian). There is also a great cafe nearby at Maire Nui Gardens and Cafe – 5 minutes down the road. Ideal for cooling off in the lush gardens followed by morning tea or lunch.
Facilities: We had good WiFi but the connection isn’t amazing so if you really need to unplug, make the most of it. Next to our villa we made use of reef shoes, kayaks, paddle boards and snorkel gear – that’s the only training gear you need. Parking is sufficient for rentals outside each villa. There is also a TV, which took longer than necessary to figure out, so ignore it even. There is a safe in the closet for valuables. If you are with a group of friends and family, there is a BBQ located nearby which can be used by guests. A convenient floating room called the Tiare Room is available should guests need an early check-in or late check-out. If you’re in the mood for romance, meaning proposing on the beach at sunset, the reception team are on hand to ensure you have the best possible experience.
In the neighborhood: If you need an ATM – as you might need cash for many markets – then Wigmores Store, the nearest supermarket to the villas, is your safest bet. Make sure you have cash if you want to visit the brilliant markets of Punanga Nui on a Saturday morning. About a 10 minute drive from the villas, be sure to book the Charlotte Piho Private Turtles and Stingrays Tour, an ecological and intimate turtle tour that is a highlight in the area. If you want to stay close by and give the rental a rest, it is highly recommended to ride the villa’s bikes and explore the local neighborhood. There are a few old churches nearby that are worth noting, and you can’t look past the beauty of the gardens and the Maire Nui cafe down the road.
Friendly and family: Sea Change is an ideal, self-contained hotspot for adults, groups of friends, and families with older children, so not a recommended place for families with children. Villas are not suitable for children under 16 – except in its Executive Lagoon View Villas, which are only for children 12 and older.
Accessibility: There is a ramp available for the villa we stayed in, however, access to the beach is via stairs.
Sustainability: Cleaning is available but only encouraged if needed, and if you spend that much time outside you want to feel like you’re in your own private bach anyway, so we’ve used cleaners only when it was necessary.