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Posted on Wednesday 23 January 2013 in Beach & Islands
Many Australians choose to visit Tahiti when they want to get away from it all. However, for Aussies who would rather venture off the beaten path, the island of Rarotonga, the largest atoll of the Cook Islands, offers the same breathtaking natural beauty without the crowds. Holidaymakers who want to experience some of the most stunning tropical landscapes in the Southern Hemisphere may want to consider heading to the Cook Islands and exploring the wonders of Rarotonga.
A forgotten land
The Cook Islands consist of 15 atolls of varying size, but Rarotonga is arguably the most impressive. Boasting pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and dense tropical vegetation, Rarotonga is like an island lost in time. As one of the largest islands in the South Pacific, Rarotonga is home to a large Polynesian population, and evidence of this distinctive culture can be seen everywhere. Charming fishing villages line the beautiful shores of the island, and the people are friendly, welcoming and love to have a good time.
Hikers and intrepid explorers will find Rarotonga to be particularly inviting. The highest peak on the island, Te Manga, stands at almost 660 metres and provides active visitors with a wealth of hiking trail options and scenic overlooks. As they wind their way through the tropical forests at the base of the mountain, Australian tourists will be able to see the towering peak of the island's dormant volcano, in addition to some of the most diverse wildlife in the South Pacific.
The waters off Rarotonga are almost perfectly clear, making them ideal for water sports activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving. Alternatively, Aussies can take a relaxing swim in the ocean after working on their tan for a few hours. Rarotonga also boasts several coral inlets off the coast, and these secluded coves are perfect for getting away from the crowds of Avarua, the island's largest town and capital of the Cook Islands.
Partying, Polynesian style
The locals of Rarotonga are particularly friendly, and it is difficult for their laid-back attitude not to rub off on visitors. After exploring the tropical jungles and stunning beaches of the island, Aussies can head to towns such as Avatiu and Avana to sample authentic Polynesian cuisine and beverages. Alternatively, visitors can dance the night away at one of the many clubs and bars that can be found in the major settlements.
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