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Things to see & do in the Outer Islands, Cook Islands

Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands

Things to see & do in the Outer Islands, Cook Islands

story by: Inspire Cook Islands

Authentic island life flourishes on the three tranquil, remote volcanic and coral islands of Atiu, Mangaia and Ma’uke, all of which are less than an hour’s flight from Rarotonga. Atiu, with its taro gardens, forests and tiny secluded sandy coves, is steeped in legend as well as being rich in rare birds including a swiftlet that lives in caves. Don’t miss the locally-brewed bush beer and homegrown coffee. The island is famed for its handmade quilts and ukuleles. Explore a labyrinth of caves on Mangaia, the second largest of the Cook Islands. Take a four wheel drive safari or go deepsea fishing. The market sells delicate shell necklaces and handwoven pandanus bags. Ma’uke, the garden island, has caves with freshwater pools to swim in and a unique 'divided' church with separate entrances for worshippers from two villages.

Our Favourite things to see & do

• ZIONA CHURCH, MA’UKE – Built in 1882, it was once described by New Zealand artist Samuel Palmer as one of the 12 most fascinating churches in the world. It’s an example of early Western architecture mixed with Pacific influences, along with a lot of Maukean ingenuity.

• LARGEST BANYAN TREE IN THE WORLD, MA’UKEs – Picking a path along the unsealed crushed coral roads on the way to Motuenga is a surprise encounter with the largest banyan tree in the world – over an acre in size.

• SPECTACULAR CAVES, MA’UKE – It is the caves that create the mystery of this spectacular island. The Motuenga, which is said to have a hundred separate underground chambers leading to the sea, is but one of the many dotted all over with deep freshwater pools filled with cool crystal waters.

• RARE BIRDLIFE, MANGAIA – The Mangaian Kingfisher never eats fish but instead preys on skinks, insects and spiders. Nesting in old coconut palms, this bird the Mangaian Kingfisher was thought to be under threat of extinction, but with a population of between 400-700 is safe for now.

• ANCIENT CAVES, ATIU – For the intrepid, a walk through the fantastic dense tropical jungle leads to Anatakitaki Cave where three caverns harbour clear pools of water, stalagmites, stalactites and a high natural cathedral ceiling above. The caves, which riddle the coastline, were often used as burial grounds and ancient artefacts can be found deep in the chambers.

• ORAVARU BEACH, ATIU – Captain Cook landed here in 1777. Cook set foot on Atiu and trekked inland in search of supplies. Oravaru Beach is the only place in the Cook Islands that Captain Cook set foot on.

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