Car Hire Vs. The Bus: Which is Better for Getting Around Rarotonga?
Rarotonga is pretty well-connected. It has a bus service, car rentals, scooter rentals, bicycle rentals, taxis, airport shuttles and more. When it comes to deciding how to travel around the island and its 32km (20-mile) coastal road, many travellers find themselves tossing up bus travel and car rental. We’ll help you decide between the two with this complete comparison between renting a car and taking the bus on Rarotonga.
About Renting a Car and Taking the Bus on Rarotonga
Before you dive into this comparison between renting a car and taking the bus on Rarotonga, it’s best to have a bit of context behind both:
Find out how the buses work, how much they cost and their schedule in The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.
Why Rent a Car on Rarotonga
If you want complete freedom to explore Rarotonga, stopping where you like and according to your schedule, then that’s what renting a car is all about!
Why Renting a Car on Rarotonga is Better Than Taking the Bus
If you’re not much of a walker, i.e. you don’t want to walk to and from the main road to catch a bus, then driving a car pretty much eliminates that, as parking is freely available across Rarotonga.
Another downside to the buses is that they only operate from Monday to Saturday. There’s also a bit of waiting involved as there is a 30 minutes difference between the two buses or 50 minutes if you’re wanting to travel in a particular direction. If that’s way too much waiting around for you to handle, then perhaps rent a car.
Additionally, car rentals on Rarotonga are made to be as convenient as possible, with most rental companies offering free accommodation deliveries of your vehicle. It’s a rather hefty fee to have it dropped off at the airport, but it’s an option nevertheless.
You can also hire a scooter too, which is quite the experience! Find out more in Scooter Hire on Rarotonga: Where to Rent, Cost & More. For more about car rentals, however, check out the 7 Best Car Rentals in Rarotonga.
Why Take the Bus on Rarotonga
If you want to travel Rarotonga like a local, save a ton on your travel budget, and let someone else worry about the driving, then you might just like taking the bus!
Why Taking the Bus on Rarotonga is Better Than Renting a Car
The main factor for choosing the bus over a rental car for many is the cost. Taking the bus is significantly cheaper than renting a car, especially with the affordable one-way fares, all-day passes and multi-ride concessions available – there’s something to suit everyone.
Additionally, the bus schedule is still pretty frequent and damn convenient. Although waiting 30 or 50 minutes for the next bus might be a long time for some, the bus schedule might just enable you to slow down and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life that we like to call “Raro time”. Why not have another cocktail while you wait? What’s more, one of the buses operates until 10pm, so you can even catch the bus to go grab dinner!
Another feel-good factor about taking the bus on Rarotonga is that it’s much more eco-friendly than driving a car all to yourself or just a few people. The carbon emissions per head created by bus travel are much lower than rental cars. See more eco-friendly travel methods in the 6 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Renting a Car in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Need more details on taking the bus? Check out The Bus in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.
Is There Anywhere You Can’t Get to Via the Bus?
The bus only picks up and drops off passengers on the main road of Rarotonga, Ara Tapu. Aside from a few inland hiking trails, there’s nothing that you can’t reach within walking distance from the main road.
The longest walk for many is the walk to Wigmore’s Waterfall (Papua Waterfall) from the main road, which is 1.6km (1 mile) away and uphill. That’s pretty much it!
Which is Better, Car Hire or Taking the Bus?
If the comparison between taking the bus and renting a car on Rarotonga hasn’t made the decision clear in your mind, then this is how we see it.
Use the bus service for getting from A to B for the first few days of your visit to Rarotonga. You can even get an all-day pass and hop on and off the buses to explore the island. If you really want to explore more of the back roads of Rarotonga, perhaps to see a few historical sites and check out the scenery, then you only need to hire a car for one day.
On the other hand, if you have a jam-packed itinerary and no time to be waiting around, then enjoy the convenience of a rental car.
More About Getting Around Rarotonga
That’s it for our comparison between renting a car and taking the bus on Rarotonga. Still undecided on how to travel around Rarotonga? These other guides might help:
- Rarotonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Rarotonga
- Cycle Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes
- Taxis in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Taxi Fares, How to Use & More
Finally, get even more tips for planning your trip from The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.