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Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The Cook Islands lie at the very heart of Polynesia, and Rarotonga is its capital. Rarotonga remains an unspoiled island of staggering beauty. White-sand beaches ring the nearly circular island. Sharp ridges cloaked in lush vegetation rise from the interior. And the friendly Polynesians are legendary—warm, charming and generous. Indeed, the outside world has not yet spoiled this tropical paradise.

Rarotonga's largest village is Avarua. In addition to its scenery, the island is famed for its great snorkeling and diving sites, excellent sport fishing, and a relaxed and easygoing lifestyle.

Ara Metua

When Europeans arrived, they were surprised to discover an all-weather paved road that was centuries old. The "Great Road of Toi" is paved with volcanic rock.

Arai-Te-Tonga Marae

This open-air stone temple formed the royal court of the Ariki or high chief, and remains a sacred place to Rarotongans.

Te Rua Manga

The volcanic formation rising near the island's center is known as "The Needle."

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