Lush tropical vegetation, clear waters of the ocean, comfortable, secluded and virtually untouched beaches. Under these parameters, except the last, you can fit several hundred islands, which seemed specifically intended by the great marketer advertising company created to chocolate "Bounty". Only fifteen islands in the Pacific Ocean really correspond to the epithets that are made to enumerate, referring to the analogue paradise on earth - is the Cook Islands.
If you delve into the history and what is known today about the great traveler James Cook, the naked eye will notice some historical and geographical curiosity. The fact that the first of these islands are not found James Cook and explorers Alvarado de Mendaña and Pedro Fernandez Quiros, Spanish, as much in the five hundred and ninety-five tysyacha year. Although found - it's rude word. They sailed to the island of Pukapuka, we looked around, gave it the name of San Bernardo and ... swam on. Over one hundred and fifty years on this part of the Pacific Ocean as if forgotten.
Forgot to seven hundred and seventy-three tysyacha year, when James Cook embarked on his journey. But whether the island so well disguised, whether Cook was busy with something else, but he only studied part of the archipelago, four small islands, passing the biggest - Rarotonga. And if not a revolt on the ship "Bounty", this island for a long time would have remained unnoticed. Once again, we note that Rarotonga - the largest of the Cook Islands, and he is right to usurp another name - Bounty, because it is the members of the ship were the first Europeans to leave their mark on the island. But its present name archipelago received from the Russian explorer Krusenstern. In the early nineteenth century, he struck the island on the map and gave them a common name in memory of the "diffused" James Cook - Cook Islands.
A few dry facts
To complete the picture should tell about the geographical location of the Cook Islands, population, political structure, and if summarized, a little dry facts about this truly magical place. Cook archipelago located in the southern hemisphere, near New Zealand. And even the exact name of it sounds very solid - the territory in free association with New Zealand.
Head of State of the Cook Islands is the reigning monarch of Great Britain, it is now Elizabeth II. All affairs is responsible for its designated authorized representative. By the way, he's the only celebrity archipelago. And another important fact: the Cook Islands has its own constitution, and the government may issue its own laws. And, despite belonging to the archipelago of New Zealand, to influence or amend legislation New Zealand government has no right. Archipelago - an independent territory.
The official languages are English and Islands Maori, but each island, which is quite natural, speak their own dialect. The original inhabitants of the Cook Islands Maori are considered. They came to this land and a half thousand years ago, but also to the Cook Islands are periodically visited by representatives of different ethnic groups.
The main income of the inhabitants of the archipelago is obtained from tourism, which is quite natural. But there are additional items of income to the treasury: exports of pearls and exotic fruits, and with the announcement of the islands offshore zone - and even banking.
Cook Islands capital, Avarua, nestled on the largest of the fifteen islands - Rarotonga. And as in any other capital of the world, here are the main commercial and administrative buildings. On Rarotonga International Airport is located, and the Cook Islands. Of course, he concedes largest major airports, but Boeing is quite safe landing on its runways. And precisely because it is located on Rarotonga Airport, any trip to the Cook Islands begins with an introduction to their capital.
Rarotonga - very unusual island. Everything from its shape and finishing plant life, are amazed. Island aerial view resembles an eye in the middle of the ocean. The fact is that Rarotonga is almost completely surrounded by coral reefs. The water around the island is perfect oval light azure color, while the island itself is a curious pupil, "looking into the blue of the sky", or admiring its beauty and tenderness of colors, or admiring the color of the sky.
Avarua, until recently, was more like a sleepy backwater island. But the development of tourism infrastructure has led to an extraordinary revival, and now the city has become more than live up to its title. But in spite of everything, in the architecture of the island is dominated by the influence of Polynesian culture. This will keep the harmonious friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the capital.
In the east, Avarua is the main shrine of the island - Seven-in-Ouen-Coconut Tree - coconut palms, planted in a circle. According to legend, all the trees have grown from a seed as a sign of the gods bestowed lands Rarotonga unprecedented fertility. On Rarotonga, the island of volcanic origin, is really more fertile soil than on coral islands, and there are growing citrus fruits, coconuts, pineapples and sweet potatoes.
Do not forget that the Cook Islands were once a field for missionary activity sets. You can even admire the first missionary village in the western part of the island and the cemetery where he is buried Papeyha - the first preacher who carried the Word of God Aborigines. Here is the first Christian church islands. Its construction dates back to devyatym eighteen hundred and forty year.
Ethnographic Open-Air Museum is also located in the west of the capital. Here you can learn about the crafts, lifestyle, culture and cuisine of the islanders, discover hundreds of ways to cook a coconut and enjoy authentic kukskimi dances and songs.
But not only the creation of human hands on Rarotonga worthy of attention. The natives are very sensitive to natural resources. Excursion to the waterfall consistently produces Whitmore vivid impression on tourists, and familiarity with the island gradually develops into a full-fledged vacation. You can soak up the beach, hike the mountain Rua Manga and swim on the coral shoals. Only flows abroad shoals are not worth it, because on the bottom goes sharply to a depth of three kilometers. So Rarotonga - a kind of oasis in the middle of the abyss.
Cook Islands - a paradise not only for divers, lovers of natural beauty and hiking. It is also a dream come true caver. At the time, the movement of the tectonic plates of the Pacific led to that formed on the surface of the ocean island of Mangaia. Whimsical relief limestone hills over which the first job of the ocean, and then the winds and rains, eaten by caves. Inside the cave are phantasmagoria in stone. However, most of them closed for a visit, as the locals choose their burial place of their compatriots.
If you drive through the small villages of the island can be purchased as a souvenir items of handicrafts. Mangaia - a place where they make the most beautiful beads and necklaces of rain snails "navel." Due to the time-consuming process of collecting snails, their small size and extraordinary beauty, in the past considered the equivalent of shell coins. Therefore, it is vitally necessary to have in the arsenal of their ornaments such unusual necklaces.
Atiu Island - a place where the legend was born of love and Tangaora Inatot. It is an island of exotic birds and caves fifteen rooms. Getting here dreams of any traveler who wanted to go to the Cook Islands. Start with the fact that the skeleton becomes clear expression of lush vegetation. On Atiu literally every centimeter of land occupied by exotic plants, and the trees for their nests chose colorful Ptakha. The word "silence" leaves your lexicon, soon as you step on Atiu. In the afternoon air is filled with birdsong and insects, and the rustle of the surf at night and cries of night birds.
Besides natural treasures on Atiu is something about dreams of any interior designer. This quilts "tivaevae." The cloth of the blankets woven from plant fibers, embroidered threads of the same origin, and painted with natural dyes, which are extracted from plants and minerals of the island.
Surrounded by clear waters of the lagoon island Aituataki - a place where fairy tales and stories told in the carvings. Just basic fishing locals began carving. The Cook Islands are famous for their wooden decorations around the world. In the town of Arutanga you will not find two identical houses. Each owner is trying to decorate your home with carved ornaments in the measure of his talent and aesthetic taste. The church in Arutanga, the oldest and the most beautiful, is also decorated with carvings.
Manuae, Takutea, Suvorov and Nassau
These four islands, despite the fact that they are far from each other, something similar. Let's start with what to call them big would be a huge exaggeration. Manuae and Te-Au-O-Tu are part of the atoll. Living here is impossible, since the entire area of the atoll is a marine reserve. In the spring, when the turtles lay their eggs in the coastal sand, excursions - and those are not possible. Nassau, of course, you can choose to relax, but only for those who love solitude. No joke, the whole population of the island is only seventy-five people. Even boat Pukapuka appears here every two to three days.
And on the island of Suvorov it is the only national park. So everything here is under state protection. And notice, the locals pronounce the name of the island - Suvarrou. Familiar to our ears the name of the island gave seafarer Krusenstern, who visited the Cook Islands, Maori and it is too difficult to pronounce and they altered the title in his own way. Takutea Island as well as the atoll Suvorov and Manuae, uninhabited. Here you can really feel yourself completely cut off from civilization.
Manihiki, and Rakahanga atoll Tongarewa
Visit the three islands would be desirable for any girl. Besides the natural beauty, there are pearl farm. Pearl shell store a pearl shades of night. And what could be more beautiful than this black pearl! Take a tour of the underwater farm only with the permission of the leader and accompanied by a local official. After diving excursions can be purchased diadem of black pearls, made by local craftsmen. Black pearls are used in most traditional decorations on these islands.
Mauke, Mitiaro, Pukapuka
Three of these islands can be called the cradle of culture and traditions of the locals repository. Just imagine, here to maintain the way of life and the conditions, what existed before the arrival of Europeans on the islands of the archipelago! And this is done not for the sake of tourists as it might seem at first glance, but on the will of the soul. The impact on the lives of Aboriginal visitors are kept to a minimum. However, rest here no one forbids. Relax and enjoy, but not to the detriment of local populations.
Palmerston Atoll so named by Cook in honor of the Prime Minister of England, a prominent politician and patron of science and art. On this island it is linked very interesting story. Shipwright William Masters arrived at Palmerston with their wives-Polynesian. Resolution to become a bigamist, he received personally from the British government, and two wives did not stop, and later he married a third time. This polygamist concurrently was the sole ruler of the island until his death, and left behind a seventeen children. In nineteen fifty-fourth year of Palmerston was donated to the ownership of a large family of the Masters. The descendants of the three branches of the family still live on the island, and marriages within each branch is prohibited.
Cook Islands, despite their remoteness from the mainland, is a very interesting and peculiar place. Here you can find anything spoiled traveler. But their main advantage is that these places are almost spoiled by mass raids tourists. Only you, the ocean and the vast expanses of the heavens