Rarotonga is the only island other than Aitutaki in the Cook Islands with developed tourist facilities. It is rather small (67 sq mi/108 sq km) and a little crowded.
Avarua, the main town, is compact and easy to see on foot—it's laid out between the two harbors.
A good way to get oriented is to take a day and bicycle or motorbike along the 20-mi/32-km flat road circling the island. There are a few potholes, but it's a pleasant trip and you can really see, feel, smell and hear the island. You will never be far from a cold drink, meal or hotel. If you're in reasonably good physical condition, take the Cross-Island Track.
Also visit Ngatangilia harbor (where the Polynesians left for New Zealand) and the Cook Islands Christian Church in the town of Matavera (blue limestone walls and a cemetery with concrete graves—go to a Sunday service to hear beautiful singing).
Other destinations include the Cook Islands Cultural Village near Arorangi, the National Cultural Center and the Cook Island Museum (both in Avarua), the Philatelic Bureau (stamps) and Polynesian ceremonial sites.
It's also fun to take a ride on a glass-bottomed boat and to swim at Muri Lagoon (allow about two hours). Muri has one of the best beaches, in the southeast part of the island near the Sailing Club, although Titikaveka on the southeastern coast is better.
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