The Cook Islands were inhabited about 1,500 years ago, but the oldest archaeological find is much younger. Nowadays, a long chain of 15 islands, forming the Cook Islands archipelago, lie in the heart of the 'Polynesian Triangle', almost unspoiled by mass tourism. The combination of Polynesian culture and untouched nature makes an unforgettable impression on all visitors of the islands. Excellent reefs and atolls, beautiful sea fishing, white sand beaches and low volcanic mountains, covered by lush greenery, are the main attractions of the Cook Islands. Apart from that, the islands are known for their friendly, unhurried pace of life. There are excellent conditions for hiking, scuba diving, caving and trekking, and the waters around the archipelago are the perfect yachting region.

An oval island of Rarotonga is almost entirely dominated by forested mountains, deep gorges and framed by palm trees of narrow beaches. The island is almost completely surrounded by a ring of coral reefs, forming a narrow lagoon. It is the administrative center of the Cook Islands and the most densely populated part of the archipelago. So, here is the most developed tourist infrastructure, a rich selection of tours and placements. It should be noted that the geography of the island allows people to settle only along the relatively flat shoreline, so virtually the entire island is encircled by a succession of villages and towns.

Avarua is the capital of the Cook Islands and the main town of Rarotonga. It is located in the mid-north coast, on the shores of two narrow bays.
Until recently, Avarua had been a little port, very suitable for the classical definition of 'the southern maritime trade center.' The city had a very backward tourist infrastructure, but after the international festival of Maire Nui in Avarua in 1992 it began to develop quite rapidly, retaining, however, its relaxed and friendly environment. The houses here still bear the obvious influence of traditional Polynesian architecture. At the same time, there is much greenery that only emphasizes the landscapes of the forested slopes of Maungatea mountain.

The downtown area is formed by Traffic Circle district, located in the eastern part of the capital, near Avarua Harbour. To the east of the central part, there is one of the major local attractions, Seven-in-One-Coconut Tree. It is a group of coconut palms, forming a perfect circle. Legend has it that they have grown from a single seed planted here to please the ancient gods. The reminders of the 'missionary era' include Papeyha stone, named after the first man, who preached the Christian doctrine on the Cook Islands. The local libraries and museums contain a vast collection of books and numerous exhibits on the history of the local art, including musical instruments and historic photographs.

Mangaia Island is the second largest and most southern of the Cook Islands. It is an ancient raised coral reef with a very interesting geological history. The force of tectonic processes made the land here rise for about 5000 meters from the bottom of the ocean at the age of more than 19 million years ago. Here one will find dozens of caves of extraordinary beauty. And the waters around the island are known as a great place for sea fishing. Here you can wander for hours along the coast or the hills of the central part without meeting a single person.

Atiu Island is the third largest in the archipelago. The island is a raised coral atoll, created by tectonic forces. A narrow barrier reef surrounds the island, forming an equally small lagoon. Unlike other islands, all the settlements here are concentrated in the central part of the plateau.

Arutanga town is the largest settlement on the island. This is the oldest and one of the most beautiful villages in the Cook Islands, where almost every house is richly decorated with lots of wood-carving and stained glass. The oldest church of the archipelago is situated here and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the region.

Travel Agents for Cook Islands can be a great resource to prepare a nice and effective trip to this part of the world. For more specific tour components, we recommend to refer to the best rated Cook Islands tour operators.