Rarotonga is the most populous island of the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands’ capital, Avarua, is on the north coast of Rarotonga, along with the international airport. Rarotonga is a very popular tourist destination with many resorts, hotels and motels.
The island is surrounded by a lagoon, which often extends more than a hundred metres to the reef, then slopes steeply to deep water. The reef fronts the shore to the north of the island, making the lagoon there unsuitable for swimming and water sports, but to the south east, particularly around Muri, the lagoon is at its widest and deepest. This part of the island is the most popular with tourists for swimming, snorkelling and boating. Agricultural terraces, flats and swamps surround the central mountain area.
The interior of the island is dominated by eroded volcanic peaks cloaked in dense vegetation. Rarotonga is encircled by a main road, Ara Tapu, that traces the coast and which makes for a great round-the-island bicycle trip. Due to the mountainous interior, there is no road crossing the island, but for the adventurous there is a popular cross-island walk that connects Avatiu Valley with the south side of the island. Transportation is provided by two bus routes along the main road: Clockwise & Anti-Clockwise. Although there are bus stops, the buses pick up and set down anywhere en route.
A large tract of land has been set aside in the south east as the Takitumu Conservation Area to protect native birds and plants.
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