The island of Rarotonga is the hub of the Cook Islands and an extremely popular tourist destination. Rarotonga is surrounded by a sparkling blue lagoon and the shimmer of multi-coloured tropical fish caught in the sunlight add a burst of colour. The white sandy beaches are lined with swaying palm trees.

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About Rarotonga

Rarotonga | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History | Dining

General Information About Rarotonga

Dominated by a once almighty volcanic pyramid, now worn down by time and streams to sawtooth peaks and razorback ridges, the lush green carpeted Rarotonga is the hub of the Cook Islands.

It is also the youngest island of the group, so unlike its equally enchanting sisters which have been eroded and submerged by age, Rarotonga stands brilliantly upright against the sun. Its vistas are strewn and spiked with jutting pinnacles that fall to terraces and flats planted with bananas, coconuts, paw paw and pineapples that shift into a swampy plateau marked by the inimitable taro patch.

The 32km circumference of Rarotonga is surrounded by a sparkling blue lagoon – the shimmer of technicoloured tropical fish caught in the sunlight adds a shot of colour. The fringe of pearly white sand is lined with swaying palms and a coral reef on which crashing waves call the intrepid fishermen to cast their lines.

The island of Rarotonga has enticingly warm temperatures and a relaxed ambience you'll find it hard to shake when the time comes to go. Thanks to the great Polynesian migration, which began in 1500BC, the Cook Islands were populated by Maori ancestors who landed in their Vakas (magnificent giant double hulled canoes which are still a part of the traditional way of life) through the guidance of the stars and the famous power of Polynesian navigation.

Tradition and a cultural heritage are trademarks of the island. The call of the drum is loudest and the high rhythm of the sticks pounding out a tattoo on hollowed out tree trunks is a talent taught from childhood.

Music is a part of island life, and marks the daily routine in Rarotonga; from the chants and hymns heard in the churches, to the string bands with their combos of electronic and traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells. Be prepared to swing those hips at the ura piani when the skilful, well rehearsed island dancers invite you to join them in a fast drumbeat.

Traditional arts and crafts of weaving, carving and painting are an integral part of a heritage which, though strictly modern in its currency today, contains all the mores of a cultural background which is nourished and nurtured with pride.

With not a traffic light to be seen, getting around Rarotonga can be a casual meander on the island bus – which uniquely travels both clockwise and anticlockwise around the road that circles the island and obliging drivers will pick and drop at will. Or the plethora of scooters which are synonymous with the town – where wheels are weighted down by mamma or papa and sometimes more than one chubby toddler clinging on for dear life.

Whichever way you go – villages, beaches, paw paw patches, and fields of taro, mango, bananas and the health filled noni can be spotted either side – providing an instant study of island life. Of course you can also take an intrepid tour with the legendary Pa up into the hinterland and the hills to explore the lush rain forest and hear legends of wars, weddings, love affairs and animosities along with tales which stretch the imagination into a forgotten world. An extraordinary array of flora and fauna flourishes.

From inland to the outreaches of the lagoon, water is paramount to this island style of life. Fishing, scuba diving, trawling, bone fishing, paddling, snorkeling, sailing, swimming or simply splashing in the sea are vital components of this island's lifestyle. All revealing that there is a lot more to the island of Rarotonga than simply a pretty place to escape.

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