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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Saddleback Butterfly Fish
Saddleback Butterfly Fish



The Takitumu Conservation Area project operates four-hour guided nature hikes into the bush on the south side of the island. You'll be shown the colorful flora, and if you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of the endangered kakerori or Rarotonga flycatcher that the group is working to save. It's a gentle walk through lush forest suitable for all ages. Hikes start at 0930 Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and the charge includes light refreshments and transfers.

Pa's Discovery Nature Walk is another good way to get acquainted with the natural history of Rarotonga. The four-hour hike through the bush behind Matavera includes a light lunch; both it and Pa's guided cross-island hike have hotel transfers included. Pa's hikes are recommended for bird-watchers (but not for those with knee problems). With his blond Rastafarian good looks, Pa is quite a character and it's worth signing up just to hear his spiel.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1000 the Cultural Village offers a full-day combined circle-island tour and cultural show which includes lunch.

Air Rarotonga offers 20-minute scenic flights around Rarotonga out of its hangar, 500 meters west of the main terminal. The traditional time is 1400, but you can usually arrange this on the spur of the moment if there are two of you and a pilot and plane are available. In good weather, flightseeing around Rarotonga is unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

Raro Tours offer 3.5-hour circle-island tours weekday mornings. Call ahead and they'll pick you up at your hotel. Ask how much time will be spent on "shopping sprees" as some tours waste half the allotted time in souvenir shops.

More adventurous tours in 4WD vehicles are offered by Raro Safari Tours, headquartered next to Ingram House in Avarua and with an office opposite the Rarotongan Beach Resort. The 3.5-hour tours begin weekdays at 0900 and 1330, Sunday at noon. It's the best way to see the island's interior without walking.

Tangaroa 4X4 Tours, at the food bar next to Wigmore's Superstore on the south coast, runs tours at 0900 and 1230 Monday to Saturday, 1200 and 1530 on Sunday.

The Bond Liquor Store, opposite the Punanga Nui Cultural Market, offers a free guided tour of its on-site brewery Monday- Thursday at 1400.