Rarotonga Island is Cook Islands most populous (population around 11,000), with total area approx 67 km2 (26 mi2). The island was first discovered by Captain John Dibbs (Endeavour shiP) in August 1823.
Cook Islands' international airport and Parliament buildings are on Rarotonga. The island is a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches and plenty of resorts and hotels. Island's main town (Avarua) is on the north coast, and is also the capital city of Cook Islands.
Most of the island is fringed with palm-studded beaches. A cross-island walk connects Avatiu valley with the south coast, passing Te Rua Manga (needle-shaped rock). Hiking tours are organized to Raemaru (flat-top mountain). Other popular attractions on the track include Papua Falls (Wigmore Falls) and Arai te Tonga (ancient sacred place).
Island activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, bike riding, hiking, boat tours, deep-sea fishing, scenic flight tours, dancing, restaurants, live shows, playing tennis and squash, mopeds. The pace of life is relaxed. At night, people gather by the sea wall skirting the end of airport's runway.
Rarotonga Island cruise terminal
There are 3 harbours, Avarua, Avana and Avatiu, of which only the last is of any commercial significance. It serves a fleet of fishing and inter-island vessels. Cargo ships call regularly from New Zealand. Large cruise liners have to anchor off shore.