Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Surrounded by a clear, turquoise blue lagoon, Rarotonga is 32 kilometres in circumference.

The lagoon often extends more than a hundred metres to the reef and then slopes steeply to deep water.

The reef fronts the shore to the north of the island, making the lagoon there unsuitable for swimming and watersports, but to the southeast, particularly around Muri, the lagoon is at its widest and deepest. This part of the island is the most popular with tourists for swimming, snorkelling and boating. Agricultural terraces, flats, and swamps surround the central mountain area.

Rarotonga is the main island of the Cook Islands and caters to almost 90 percent of the country’s tourist accommodation and offers many activities. The population is approximately 10,000, mostly indigenous Cook Islands Maori and almost half living around Avarua Town on the north coast. The Maori ancestors landed on the Cook Islands in their magnificent, giant double-hulled canoes that are still proudly part of the traditional way of life. They were guided by their knowledge of the stars and the famous power of Polynesian navigation.

Rarotonga is a small volcanic island with a landmass of only 26 square miles. It is dotted with pretty villages, a friendly atmosphere, lovely mountain views and hiking trails. It has a reputation for excellent snorkelling off the beaches that line most of the coast. Rarotonga enjoys a climate that is warm and sunny all year round. There is more rain and higher humidity between the summer months of December to March. The high season for tourism is during Christmas when New Zealanders and Australians visit during their summer school holidays.

Tradition and a cultural heritage are trademarks of the island. Music is an integral part of the culture and part of the islander’s daily routine. Stunning chants and hymns emanate from the churches and local string bands use a combination of electronic and traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells to entertain. Visitors will often be invited to join with the hip-swaying dancers when the music begins! Fishing, paddling, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and swimming are just some of the activities that abound in this tropical paradise. If you feel like more adventure, take a trip into the hinterland and experience the unique flora and fauna of the lush rain forests. Take time to listen to the legends of ancient wars and love affairs that stretch far back into an almost forgotten time.

Getting around Rarotonga is easy. With no traffic lights to be seen, relax and meander on a bus around the island. Buses uniquely travel both clockwise and anticlockwise on the road that circles the island and obliging drivers will pick-up and drop-off at will. Scooters are also a popular mode of transport.

While nurturing its culture and tradition with sensitivity and pride, Rarotonga is also very much part of the present and offers everything today’s visitors expect. Experience Rarotonga and you will not be disappointed.

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