|Sitting on the dock of the bay in Avarua|
Like all good tropical islands should be, the Cook Islands are a long way from anywhere.
The Cooks are made up of 15 islands about a 3 ½-hour flight north and west of New Zealand. The Cook Islands Maori are closely related to the New Zealand Maori and are believed to have migrated here from the Society Islands of French Polynesia in 500 AD. Cook Islands Maori is a distant relative to its Kiwi linguistic counterpart.
Cook Islanders were left pretty much to their own devices until the first European, an Englishman, set foot on Rarotonga in 1814. The Portuguese and Spanish had done a couple of drive-by sightings before then. Captain James Cook, after whom the islands are named, passed through the area in 1773 and 1777. The English missionaries landed in 1821 and, though the Cook Islanders quickly took to Christianity, their tribal affiliations and customs remained intact. Every Cook Islander is related to one of the original six families.
|The Cook Islands Parliament|
There are just 19,000 Cook Islanders and they have a love of music and dance that makes the islands one of the more lovely and friendly places I’ve been. Rarotonga is immaculate and gorgeous.
You know it isn’t cheap when even the New Zealanders complain about prices, but that’s a factor of distance and the fact that just about everything has to be imported.
Much of Rarotonga is surrounded by a natural breakwater, meaning the lagoon swimming close to shore is calm and the nasties in the water are pretty limited. The islands’ volcanic beginnings are in evidence everywhere. Large, pointed mountains jut into the sky and volcanic rocks scatter the shore and the waters.