Avarua, capital city of Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are a dream come true for any traveler who has fantasized about escaping from the modern world's hustle and bustle. The 15 remote islands are home to some of the world's most spectacular natural scenery, and the capital of Avarua is a great jumping off point for exploring it all. Located on Rarotonga, the largest island, Avarua is an intoxicating blend of Polynesian culture, natural wonders and a laid-back atmosphere that runs on island time. It is truly paradise, and there is no other place in the world quite like it.
Much of life in Avarua centers around the beaches, and Muri Beach is one of the best. The clear, shallow water is perfect for beginner snorkelers to explore, revealing countless coral formations and sea cucumbers just steps from the shore. If you have fins, you can easily swim out to a small island not far from the coast, but glass-bottom boats can take you there too for a barbecue lunch or sunset cultural show.
The Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve is another excellent place for snorkeling and diving. It is the island's oldest dedicated marine reserve, and hundreds of species of tropical fish gather there to breed each year. This is a real treat for divers, who can swim with thousands of fish each time they enter the crystalline waters. Expect to see huge schools of butterfly fish, moray eels, wrasse, trevally and sea bream in addition to clams and octopi.
Avarua is also a hiker's paradise. The surrounding area teems with wildlife, and even a short trek through the jungle will reveal many waterfalls, fresh water swimming holes and small peaks.
On land, visit the Sir Geoffrey Henry National Culture Center to get a grasp of the country's history and culture. The complex is actually comprised of six different cultural treasures: the National Archives, the National Auditorium, the National Library, the National Performing Arts Center, the National Anthropology Unit and the National Museum. The National Museum's collection features traditional island handicrafts, including clothing, tools, canoes and other interesting artifacts.
The nearby Peace Garden is one of the capital's finest gems. Serene and lush, the garden is the perfect place to relax among the swaying palm trees and vibrant, sweetly-aromatic flowers that bloom year-round.
The Cook Island Christian Church is also worth a visit. The mid-19th-century white-coral building is a fine example of the islands' architectural style, and the surrounding graveyard contains a monument to Papeiha, a pioneering Polynesian missionary. The grave of the country's first prime minister, Albert Henry, is to the left of the church, marked by a life-sized bust of the leader.
There is never really a bad time to visit the islands, but the best time is during the annual Te Maeva Nui Festival. The arts and culture extravaganza takes over Avarua for one week in July, starting with a whimsical float parade and ending with an island-wide celebration. In between are drum circles on the beach, costume parties, food festivals, free performances and a celebratory vibe that permeates the city.
Avarua Geographical Location
Avarua is located in the central north of Rarotonga Island and is the largest city in the Cook Islands.
Avaruta’s approximate population is 5,600.
English and Maori are the official languages of the Cook Islands while there are several other languages spoken solely on individual islands.
Avarua Predominant Religion
- 56% Cook Islands Christian Church
- 17% Roman Catholic
- 8% Seventh-Day Adventists
- 6% Other Protestant
- 6% Other
- 4% Church of Latter Day Saints
- 3% None
The Cook Islands were influenced heavily by the missionaries of the 19th century and their impact can still be seen in their dedication to the Christian Church.
The New Zealand Dollar is the official currency of the Cook Islands.
Avarua experiences moderate rainfall throughout the year and the temperature is usually warm.
Avarua Main Attractions
- Punanga Nui
- Avarua Church
- National Museum of the Cook Islands
Other Attractions in Avarua
- Seven-in-One Coconut Tree
- The Beach