The largest of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is home to nearly three quarters of the archipelago's 20,000 citizens, most of whom live in settlements along the coast. The island is home to the capital, Avarua, and is also the most popular tourist destination in the Cook Islands.
Avarua is the only major town, and with a population of just 5,000, even that is small. It contains a few restaurants, bars, and shops. Rarotonga's attractions are not urban ones, however, but lie in the spectacular natural beauty of the island. The interior of Rarotonga is a stunning mixture of jagged mountains and lush green jungles that give way to sparkling white sand beaches and the blue waters of the South Pacific.
Snorkelling and scuba diving, along with other watersports, are the most popular activities in Rarotonga. A healthy dose of relaxing and enjoying the beautiful beaches balances out the more physical activities. The circular island is nearly completely surrounded by coral reefs that contain tropical fish, octopuses, eels, and other colourful marine life.
Aroa Lagoon, Fruits of Rarotonga Beach, and Black Rock are popular areas for snorkelling and scuba diving. The reefs and lagoons make Rarotonga less than ideal for surfing, but create perfectly calm areas for swimming, like the idyllic Muri Lagoon.