Head eis
"Island Night" is a must.  Most of the hotels host one and the performances of music, dance and drumming are as memorable as the costumes.   Don't be surprised if you're asked to join in!
Cook Islands dancers
Raro Records
DEMOCRACY IN THE ISLANDS

Rarotonga is the seat of the Islands' legislative Government.  Parliament is based on the UK model and, similar to it, has two Houses.  The lower house or Legislative Assembly has 25 elected members - 24 from districts of the Cook Islands and one representing the many Cook Islanders who live overseas.  The Members of Parliament represent districts and islands.  Ten are from the capital island.  The upper house, or House of Ariki, is made up of traditional leaders, who provide consultation and advice.  Her Majesty the Queen (Queen Elizabeth II) is Head of State.  The Queen's Representative, Tom Marsters, acts in her name in the Islands.

Outdoor menu
Cook Islands Parliament Building
Temptingly fresh seafood is always on the menu at the many eating places in town and the prices are tasty too
The Parliament building near the airport.  It used to be temporary accommodation for contractors who built the airport.
Beautiful Muri beach
Muri beach motu
Magnificent Muri Beach...but there's more to Rarotonga than just sea and sand
Parked motorbikes
Bikes are everywhere, so if you hire one, don't forget where you parked it!  And a word of advice from the police...don't leave valuables under the seat
Head eis....as likely to be worn by men as women.  Buy one at the cultural market and enjoy both the beauty and the wonderful scent of island flowers
Matavera church
Religion is an important part of life in the Islands.  The Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) predominates - this one is in Matavera.   I would urge you to go along to a CICC Sunday service and hear the amazing unaccompanied singing.  It's an experience never to be forgotten
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from Sails Restaurant (active from 0630-1830 local time - GMT-10hrs)
Muri beach webcam
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Smiling islander
Friendly islander
Sunbathing dog
Friendly smiles.   Wouldn't you smile if you lived in a place like this?  Even the dogs go sunbathing!
Dog crossing sign
Not the sort of sign you see everyday.  This was put up by the excellent local animal charity, the Esther Honey Foundation
Trader Jacks
Banana Court
The Banana Court and Trader Jack's bar and restaurant and are two of the most famous hang outs on the islands.  Trader Jack's was all but destroyed in Cyclone Meena in February, 2005, but the owner rebuilt and re-opened.  The BC has a very 'colourful' history stretching back decades; the locals will happily tell you tall tales

RECOMMENDED
IN RARO

Read about my recommended places to eat and drink on Rarotonga
The Cook Islands equivalent of 10 Downing Street or the White House.  This is the official residence of the Prime Minister
PM's official residence
AROUND RARO
And if you're lookng for the sort of music you hear at an island night, there's no better place to go than Raro Records.  They have a big selection of local artists
Royal palace, Rarotonga
Empty and sadly deteriorating....the disputed royal palace of one of the Rarotonga's Ariki or high chiefs.   It's set well back on the left as you come into town from the direction of Muri Beach
Cook Islands number plate
Even car number plates say "Kia Orana" (may you live long)
24 hour trading
Patrol boat
The Cook Islands navy in its entirety!  This boat is a gift from Australia and helps patrol the massive territorial waters... thankfully supplemented by help from New Zealand
24x7 trading arrived in the islands in 2009, with this garage and local store.   But for the majority, Sunday is still very much a day for rest and church
Danger!  Goats crossing on the main road to Avarua.  And remember the speed limit is just 50kph (31 mph) on all roads except those in town and near Muri where it's 30 kph (18 mph)
Goats crossing
When it gets too much for the feet
Rukau...go on, try it!
Chilled coconut was never fresher
Colour everwhere
The Cultural Market in Avarua is a treat for all the senses.  The smells of fresh and cooking food, a cacophy of music and more than a splash of colourful clothing  - and colourful locals - make this a "must visit".   The market is open every day bar Sunday, but Saturday is the "must go" day for islanders and tourists alike.   It's near the harbour.   Cook Islands Bus will drop you off.  Location map
Don't forget the noni juice