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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Outrigger Canoes
Outrigger Canoes, Mitiaro

Around Mitiaro Island

It's 20 km around Mitiaro but the road across the center of the island offers more variety than the coastal road (no shade on either road, so be prepared). Vai Marere, to the left of the road from Takaue, is an easy 10-minute walk inland from the village. The locals enjoy swimming in the green, sulfur-laden waters of this cave (vai). Continue across the picturesque center of Mitiaro toward Teunu. Five minutes before you reach the coast you pass on your left Te Pito o Kare, a deep cave containing a pool that was once a source of drinking water for people living in the area.

Turn right at Teunu and follow the coastal road about 600 meters to an ironwood forest on your right. A trail on the right through this forest leads into the makatea to an old Polynesian fort (tepare) that the people of Mitiaro once used to defend themselves against raids from Atiu. Back at the Teunu junction you'll note the upright coral slabs of a small marae among the trees and 100 meters east on the coastal road to Parava is another larger marae just to the left of the road. Several more are on either side of the road to the east.

It's easy to find Vai Tamaroa on the east side of the island as there's a headstone commemorating the Boys Brigade Camp on Mitiaro in April 1985 at the trailhead. It's a rough 15-minute scramble over the makatea to this deep water-filled crevice but you probably won't be able to swim beecause of Vai Tamaroa's steep sides.

Less than a km north of the headstone is Parava with a small golden beach down by the seashore and a road in toward the east side of Lake Rotonui. Small, edible black tilapia are abundant, each with a red streak along its back fins. They grow to about 15 cm long and provide sustenance for the lake's black eels ('itiki). The much larger milk fish also found in the lakes are caught by humans for food. The lake water is fresh and clear, although the bottom is muddy. The low-lying surroundings are peaceful and serene, but the mud will make you forget about swimming.

About 600 meters north of the Lake Rotonui road is the access road to Vai Nauri, a cool, crystal-clear freshwater cave pool. A stairway leads down to the water's edge, and on a hot afternoon a swim here is almost divine. From this pool it's about an hour's walk back to the village.