Fronting a pretty bay on Rarotonga’s north coast, Avarua is the Cook Islands’ only proper town. Hardly an urban jungle, Avarua’s largest buildings are barely the height of a coconut tree, and the atmosphere of shops and cafes is extremely laid-back. Avarua showcases the island’s twin harbours, the main market and some intriguing sights, including the National Museum and the Para O Tane Palace.
There’s one main road, the Ara Maire, running through town, and past the shops at the western end of Avarua is the Punanga Nui Market and Avatiu Harbour. This is where interisland passenger freighter ships depart from, and where the Port Authority is based. The airport is 1km further west.