ROL Cruise recommends…
1. Underwater wonders
Once dominated by a volcanic pyramid, the statuesque island of Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands. The green carpeted mountains at its centre descend into glistening sands and a sparkling blue lagoon. The sweeping shoreline and turquoise waters make Muri the most popular beach in Rarotonga. Snorkel with technicolour fish on the reef, visit the lagoon's uninhabited islands, or admire the marine life from a glass-bottomed boat. From July to October you may be lucky enough to spot a migrating whale as it passes Rarotonga en route to warmer waters. Plenty of vantage points on land enable this breathtaking bonus to the holiday of your dreams.
2. Experiencing the culture
Originally populated by the Maori from Polynesia, the Cook Islands retain a strong history and culture. Traditional woven, carved and painted crafts can be found across the island, particularly images of Tangaroa, a son of Ranginui (the Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Mother Earth), and god of the sea. Search for a souvenir in his image as you enjoy local music and dance at the weekly market or immerse yourself completely at a cultural village.
3. Touring with Pa
The irregular terrain of Rarotonga's interior makes unguided trips difficult, though intrepid adventurers can still explore its lush heart with an experienced guide. Well-known local, Pa, runs two walking tours; a cross island trek and a more gentle nature walk. His joie de vivre and encyclopaedic knowledge is captivating as you discover Noni plantations and paddy fields, and learn about native flora and their medicinal uses. Visit Avarua and admire panoramic vistas before reaching the idyllic Muri Lagoon.
4. A reason to stay
The beauty of the Cook Islands is their remoteness, making for slow, relaxing travel between them.. Rarotonga's closest inhabited neighbour is Aitutaki, around 160 miles away. Its vast lagoon encircled by coral reefs and sandy islets offers great snorkeling and scuba diving sites. Boats and ferries are few and far between so a light aeroplane flight is the fastest way to get there.