Don’t get us wrong, we love finding the perfect beachfront bungalow for our travels, but when I saw the cutest luxury safari tent located in the mountains of Rarotonga, I knew we had to visit! Ikurangi Eco Retreat is located in a tropical garden under Mount Ikurangi on the east side of the island, and once you’re there you will feel like you’re in another world. Peaceful and serene, it can be the perfect combination of luxury and camping all in one.
There’s something so peaceful about waking up to the wind blowing through your tent and walking outside to eat breakfast facing the mountains. Throughout our whole stay, we barely heard anything besides the animals and the wind. It’s absolutely magical! You aren’t too far from the main road of Rarotonga, and there are complimentary bicycles for the guests to use, so it’s easy to get around the island. Even though you aren’t beachfront, the beach is only a stroll away. Not only are you in the surrounded by nature while stying at Ikurangi Eco Retreat, Ikurangi is the first purpose-built eco accommodation in the Cook Islands. Matt and Luana opened the retreat in 2015 and they wanted the importance of the accommodation to minimize the effect of the environment. Ikurangi means “the tail of the sky” and is the name of the mountain that watches over the village of Matavera. Ikurangi invites guests to experience the alternative side of the island and enjoy the beautiful mountain side. Walking out of your luxury tent you will face Mount Ikurangi, and it’s a beautiful site.
You can choose between the luxury safari tent, the tropical ares (Polynesian studios) and the Ariki safari tent, which is perfect for honeymooners. While the tropical ares are still great options, we highly suggest staying in the luxury safari tent. The tent is fully furnished with a private ensuite, and honestly this tent is nicer than some actual hotels! And even if the retreat is fully booked, you wouldn’t know it, as all rooms are spaced out to ensure privacy and views take priority. The tents are spacious, luxurious and private all while being mindful of the eco system.
The first purpose-built eco accommodation in the Cook Islands. Matt and Luana wanted to create something for visitors to Rarotonga that doesn’t compromise the environment. The importance of the retreat is placed on minimizing the effect on the environment. This inspired the luxury safari tents, or glamping tents as we like to call them. The tents have shallow foundations, composting toilets, sustainably sourced materials, limited single-use packaging, recycle and composting in all rooms, natural and biodegradable toiletries and cleaning products, and free bicycles. But just because the accommodation is eco-friendly, doesn’t mean the comfort and luxury of guests is compromised. As part of their commitment to sustainability, Ikurangi Eco Retreat donates 5% of the profits to local conservation projects around the Cook Islands.
All guests enjoy natural toiletries, luxurious waffle robes, and an ensuite. All tents also offer a private open-air hot water shower. A salt-water swimming pool and sun loungers are available. Ikurangi Eco Retreat provides bicycles and snorkeling gear complimentary. A tropical breakfast, including artisan breads, cereals, yogurt and fresh fruit, is delivered to the room every morning.
While definitely not needed, if you’re celebrating a special occasion, book the Ariki Safari Tent which includes a private claw foot bath under the stars and complimentary champagne on arrival. There are plenty of restaurants nearby but you can book a night with a private chef at Ikurangi for a special dining experience. Private yoga sessions and in-room massages are available during your stay.
Things to Do While in Rarotonga
There is so much to do in Rarotonga and everything is pretty easy to get to from Ikurangi Eco Retreat. Muri Beach is a short bike ride away, with lots of great restaurants and some of the best beaches for snorkeling and paddle-boarding. Also in Muri, the night market operates Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night from 5-8. If you’re looking for a great workout while on holiday, we recommend the cross-island trek for a great view. For a truly special look into the culture of the Cook Islands, enjoy an island night at Highland Paradise or Te Vera Nui. Make sure you visit Aitutaki, the most beautiful lagoon you’ll ever experience.
We saved our visit to Ikurangi Eco Retreat for the very end of our two week trip, and we were so glad we did. This place made us feel so calm and relaxed, it was the perfect finale to an amazing trip. From the great service from Luana in the office, to Susan constantly stocking the rooms and keeping the grounds beautiful, and the gorgeous setting that Ikurangi Eco Retreat provides, we couldn’t be happier. If you’re looking for a eco-friendly retreat, your stay at Ikurangi will also provide you with a view of the mountains on Rarotonga. Its the best of both worlds: waking up with breakfast in front of the mountains, and a quick bicycle ride to the beaches, Ikurangi Eco Retreat is truly a gem in the Cook Islands.
Thanks to Ikurangi Eco Retreat for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own
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