Rarotonga is what we all imagine when thinking of that ideal tropical island. Rising from the sea the island is dominated by a central dormant volcano peak and circled by a coastal plain and pearl white beaches and then totally surrounded by a rich coral reef. The island stands 14,750 feet (4500m) above the ocean floor. It is 20 miles (32k) in circumference.At a depth of 13,000 feet (4000m) the volcano is some 31 miles (50k) in diameter. The highest peak is 2140 feet (658m) above sea level and the island is surrounded by a lagoon which extends several hundred yards to the reef which then slopes steeply to deep water.
The island's present-day name stems from 'raro' meaning 'down' and 'tonga' meaning 'south'.
The most popular version of its origin is that the famous Tahitian navigator, Iro, visited it once and some years later while on Mauke he met Tangiia who asked where he was going. Iro replied: 'I am going down to the south.' The Samoan voyager, Karika, is also reputed to have called it Rarotonga when he first saw it from the north-east because it was to leeward -- 'raro' -- and towards the south -- 'tonga'.
Rarotonga - is the capital of the Cooks with the highest population at 12,000 people. Tall lush peaks are surrounded by breathtaking beaches, a stunning clear lagoon and encircling coral reef. The main town of Avarua is on the north side of the island, and has many cafes and souvenir shops with a great array of gifts like pareu (sarongs), carvings, the famous black pearls and local art work. There is a main road encompassing the whole island, making it easy to get around and explore the other villages, and visit the many stunning beaches on the southern side of the island or the western side to watch the glorious sunset whilst sipping a happy hour cocktail.