- Cook Islands
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Situated on the north coast of Rarotonga, Avarua is the capital of the Cook Islands. This relaxed little town has a friendly feel, and visitors will find shops, restaurants, and several tourist attractions here. On Sunday mornings, the sweet strains of Maori hymns waft from the CICC (Cook Islands Christian Church). Dating from 1853, the church is made of coral, and some of the island's most famous people are buried in its graveyard, including the first prime minister of the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands Library and Museum Society houses a collection of rare books on the Pacific, and the museum offers a glimpse of the cultural history of the islands.
A must-see is the vibrant Punanga Nui Outdoor Market on the waterfront. Mountains of mangos, pineapples, and passionfruit beckon from the stalls as well as fragrant tropical flowers, vegetables, clothes, and crafts. Most of the action takes place on Saturday mornings. Just south of Avarua, the Perfume Factory sells perfumes and colognes scented with local flowers and is a great spot to pick up some gifts.