Base yourself in the center of the Cook Islands, explore thousands of years of Polynesian culture, see coral reefs and trek through rainforest.

Avarua (Two Harbors) is the main port for yacht and boat anchorage in the Cook Islands. Visit Rarotonga’s central township to find shops, museums, cafés, accommodations and lively Cook Islands nightlife.

Inside the coral reef encircling Rarotonga’s blue-green lagoon, the sea abounds with marine life, living coral and tropical fish. Astounding visibility and year-round warm waters make snorkeling or scuba diving the best way to explore underwater caves, canyons and shipwrecks. Avarua is a great place for beginners to get scuba diving certification.

Plan a day of deep-sea fishing to catch yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, barracuda and snapper. Test your skills at the Rarotonga Golf Club or enjoy a hike through thick jungle to spot native birds and butterflies. Make the 4-hour climb with Pa’s Treks to the top of the Te Rua Manga and learn about local myths and legends. Other hikes include Turangi Track, Raemaru Lookout, Avana Valley Track, Papua Waterfall Track and the protected rainforest at Takitumu Conservation Area. Bring hiking shoes for the rocky, uneven terrain.

See the bright white-coral exterior of the historic Cook Islands Christian Church, built in 1853. Step inside to hear locals rejoicing in song.

Find contemporary and traditional arts and crafts at the Beachcomber Gallery and rare black pearls at the Beachcomber Pearl Market. Shop at the daily Punanga Nui Market on Avarua Wharf for arts and crafts, tropical fruits, vegetables and favorite local dishes.

Behind the Para-O-Tane Palace is the modest Cook Islands Library and Museum, which displays the island’s first printing press and other artifacts.

To complete a relaxed Cook Islands day, attend a spirited Polynesian buffet with cultural dance and musical performances.

Located on the northern coastline of Rarotonga, Avarua is a lively township with modern facilities including banks, shops and travel agencies. Get around the island easily with a 45-minute round-Rarotonga bus ride or by rented car, scooter or bicycle.

Guide to Exploring Avarua

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