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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Muri Beach
Muri Beach on the
southeast coast of Rarotonga.


The southeast side of Rarotonga is known as Takitumu. The skeletal Sheraton Resort is the most visible physical reminder of the financial calamities that gripped these islands in the 1990s.

The building with the flagpole and open sidewalk along the beach a couple of kilometers east of the defunct Sheraton is the residence of the representative of Queen Elizabeth II (his salary comes out of local taxes).

Just east is a shady beach park with concrete picnic tables and public toilets. East again and on the corner before Kent Hall in Titikaveka is Te Pou Toru Marae. Beyond this another fine coral-block CICC church (1841) stands beside the road, 19 km from Avarua counterclockwise or 14 km clockwise.

Maire Nui Botanical Garden (closed weekends), opposite the Little Polynesian at Titikaveka, is a pleasant tropical garden open to visitors.

Some of the finest snorkeling on Rarotonga is off the beach opposite Raina Beach Apartments, behind the cemetery with the radio mast. Fruits of Rarotonga Café, a few hundred meters east, is another great base for snorkeling. The folks in the café will hold bags, and they also rent masks and snorkels. There's not a lot of coral but plenty of small fish. Some of the scuba operators bring their clients here for diving.

Turn in at the Rarotonga Sailing Club, four km northeast, to see the lovely Muri Lagoon, with the nicest swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing area on the island. The southeast trades blow the mosquitoes away. At low tide you can wade across to uninhabited Koromiri Island, where hermit crabs forage as bathers enjoy the oceanside beach. Full nautical gear is for rent at the club (open daily) and Sails Restaurant serves a good lunch.

The road up the Avana Valley begins near the bridge over Avana Stream and runs along the south bank. You can cycle halfway up, then continue on foot.

On the right just beyond the Avana Stream bridge is Vaka Village with a monument marking an historic gathering of ocean voyaging and war canoes here during the 1992 Festival of Pacific Arts. Local fishing boats anchor on the spot today. A public toilet is also here.

A little beyond is another old white CICC church on the left, once the seat of the Reverend Charles Pitman, who translated many works into Maori during his stay here 1827-1854. Across the street from the church is a small park with a good view of the tiny islands or motu in the Muri Lagoon and Ngatangiia Harbor. Legend claims seven canoes departed from here in A.D. 1350 on a daring voyage to New Zealand, and the names of the canoes are inscribed on a monument. Cruising yachts sometimes anchor here, though it's rather exposed to the southeast trades.

Back near the bridge is a road in to the Ara Metua. On the right a short distance along this road is an old burial ground with a Polynesian marae among the trees on a hillock behind. Many other similar marae are in the vicinity.

Continue along the Ara Metua and turn left up the road alongside Turangi Stream, on the far side of a small bridge. The Turangi Valley is larger and more impressive than Avana, and swamp taro is grown in irrigated paddies. Once again, you cycle halfway up and continue on foot.

Continue to   Rarotonga Sights: Towards Ikurangi   »