The Cook Islands are a group of 15 Polynesian islands spread across miles of open sea. While you will unlikely be visiting every island in the group, you will see several impressive landmarks on the capital island of Rarotonga alone. Don't expect the landmarks to consist of shopping plazas and skyscrapers--unless, of course, the skyscraper is in the form of a big black rock.
Ara Metua is an impressive and historic roadway that circles around the island's perimeter. Reportedly built by warrior chief Toi around 1000 AD, the road's coral foundation was laid by hand and is also known as the Great Road of Toi. The road has since been paved and makes for a great ride on a bicycle or moped. The road reaches two-thirds of the way around the island through an idyllically scenic route. Stop frequently to enjoy the orchards, gardens and awesome views.
A towering beast of a Black Rock, also called Tuoro, rears its head from a coral lagoon about four miles from the Rarotonga city of Avarua. While its immediate attraction may be as an ideal place for swimming or high-tide snorkeling, it is also a very significant landmark. The Black Rock is the site where the spirits of the dead Polynesians make a pit stop on their way to their homeland, or Avaiki. Tuoro means "Welcome."
Another towering landmark is Mount Reamaru, which stands nearly 150 feet tall near the village of Arorangi on the western side of Roratonga. The top of the mount is missing, leaving it with a flat top atop which you can climb and gaze at the entire side of Rarotonga. Like most other Cook Island landmarks, Mount Reamaru, too, comes with a legend. The top of the mountain is flat because Aitutaki warriors removed the top peak and carried it away. A trail leads to the top of the mount where you can drink in the glorious view. Just be wary that the topmost areas of the mount are very slippery when wet.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.