Cook Islands Flag

Cook Islands Travel Guide

Rarotonga Crafts

Check out the Punanga Nui Cultural Market near Avatiu Harbor, where you'll find grass skirts, baskets, dancing shakers, pandanus rito hats, and hat bands. Tivaevae quilts are available on request (NZ$700 and up for a medium-sized one). Woods used by the carvers include beach hibiscus (aue) for tropical fish, ironwood (toa) for tangaroa figures, and mahogany (tamano) for slit drums.

Saturday mornings from 0600-1300 a large flea market occurs here with lots of local food and live music. The large open area at Punanga Nui is used for cultural festivals.

More expensive but well worth a look is Island Craft, beside the Westpac Bank, selling teak or mahogany carvings of Tangaroa, the fisherman's god (a fertility symbol), white woven hats from Penrhyn, mother-of-pearl jewelry, and good, strong bags. Other popular items include handbags, fans, tapa cloth, replicas of staff gods, wooden bowls, food pounders, pearl jewelry, seats (no'oanga), slit gongs (tokere), and fishhooks. It's also got a branch at the airport that opens for international departures, but the selection in town is much better.

A branch of Bergman and Sons, between the Cook Islands Visitor Center and the Banana Court, also has a selection of woodcarvings. Also check Tarani Crafts and Pearls, next to Empire Theater, which has high quality pandanus hats and baskets and black pearls.

Tangaroa Statue
Tangaroa statue at The Perfume Factory, Avarua.

Continue to   Shopping: Pearls   »