Visitors Guide M

Maina Sunset Motel

As the name suggests you get the setting sun from this Aitutaki motel. It’s small (12 units), friendly and private. There are four self-contained one bedroom units and eight studio rooms. It’s a peaceful spot and there’s an informal restaurant and swimming pool.

Malaria

Malaria tablets aren’t necessary for a Cook Islands holiday but insect repellent should be taken for comfort and because there have been occasional outbreaks of Dengue Fever (every five years or so). Don’t panic if you hear a buzz near your ear at night – the mossies that carry Dengue only bite during the day.

Manuia Beach Resort

Manuia means ‘good fortune’ and guests who discover this resort will understand why it has that name.  Refurbished in 2013, the air-coonditioned accommodation has traditional coconut thatched roofs and is on the sunset side of Rarotonga – these happen daily, just across the white sandy beach and out beyond the blue lagoon.

Overlooking the infinity pool and beach the sandy-floor restaurant & bar is a fabulous setting for sunset cocktails and dining.

Manuia Beach Resort also arranges weddings and is a romantic resort for honeymooners and couples.

Markets

For a range of handicrafts (grass skirts, baskets, hats, carvings, jewellery) head to the Punanga Nui Cultural Market near the harbour in Avarua. Saturday morning is the best time and the earlier you go, the bigger the range. There are some permanent stores there all week. You’ll find a flea market here on Friday nights with live entertainment and inexpensive local food.

Medical Services

  • The Tupapa Community Clinic is open weekdays from 8:00am to 6:00pm and 8:00am to 11:00am on Saturdays. Phone 20 066).
  • Private practitioners include Dr Tereapii Uka (phone 23 680) and Dr Wolfgang Losacker (phone 23 306).
  • For dental treatment there’s Dentist Services in the Tupapa Community Clinic – phone 29 312. Private practitioners include Dr Kaa Henry – phone 29 605 and Philip Nicholas – phone 20 169.
  • Rarotonga’s main hospital is open 24 hours a day – phone 22 664.
  • To call an ambulance, dial 998.

Miss Cook Islands

This beauty pageant is held every second year and any female aged 18 and over from any island in The Cook Islands can compete. Here’s a link to the Miss Cook Islands facebook page.

Miss Tiare

This is a beauty pageant for younger girls held every year and it coincides with the flower parades at the end of November.

Missionaries

While the wonderful church services are a legacy of the missionaries, I’m not a big fan of the past ‘God-botherers’ who arrived in these islands preaching puritanical morality with a holier-than-thou attitude. Along with the Bible they brought white man’s diseases like measles, dysentery, smallpox, influenza, pneumonia, scarlet fever, mumps, whooping cough and the common cold that killed two thirds of the population. The missionaries saw this as God’s punishment for their sinful ways. About 63% of today’s population belongs to the Cook Islands Christian Church that was founded by the London Missionary Society in the 1820’s.

Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel

The name says it all really – it’s beachfront and it’s a hotel. The self-contained rooms (17) are in a three-storey hotel (tall for the Cook Islands) with excellent views out over the white sand beach, across the lagoon to the reef. You are paying for location more than anything here. Kayaks and snorkel gear are complimentary and The Paw Paw Patch restaurant serves breakfast and dinner.

Money

See Currency.

Motus

Motus are small sandy islets that dot the lagoons – there are four off Muri Beach and 15 in Aitutaki Lagoon.

Muri Lagoon

Muri Lagoon is arguably the nicest spot on Rarotonga and offers great swimming, kayaking and windsurfing but the snorkelling is better further down to the south side. At low tide you can wade across to the uninhabited motu, Koromiri (a choice for some couples as a wedding venue). Muri is home to the Pacific Resort, Muri Beach Resort, Muri Beachcomber, Muri Beach Club Hotel: Restaurants include Aqua Restaurant, Sandals Restaurant and Barefoot Bar and Sails Restaurant with Koka Lagoon Cruises and Captain Tama’s Aquasportz Centre providing water-based activities.

Museums

There are two museums in Avarua on Rarotonga – the Cook Islands Library and Museum and the National Museum. The museum in the library has been around longer and has a collection of smaller items accumulated over time. The national museum was purpose built in 1992 when the national Cultural Centre was erected for the 6th Festival of Pacific Arts. It displays an interesting collection of replicas and gifts presented by foreign Heads of State who attended the festival. Admission to the Library Museum is $2.00 while the National Museum is by donation. Both are recommended.

Music

After a number of years living in Vanuatu I was quite happy not to hear another string band for a while but the Cook Island string bands have a rhythm that take it to another level. It can be exciting and sensual with the drums making the difference (as well as the dancers moving to the beat).

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