Cook Islands - Northern Group

Many visitors see Rarotonga and depart without discovering the outer islands, but they have an unspoilt beauty that makes them especially memorable. The Northern Group consists of Pukapuka, Manihiki, Penrhyn, Rakahanga, Nassau, and Suwarrow.

Pukapuka
This remote, fan-shaped atoll has a population of around 664 and language and customs similar to those of Samoa. The island has excellent swimming and snorkelling and a reputation for its finely woven mats.

Manihiki
Known as the Island of Pearls, this triangular atoll is said to be one of the group’s loveliest. The 4km-wide lagoon is laced with 40 tiny motu (islets). The reef provides excellent swimming and snorkelling, and offshore diving is good. Manihiki is renowned for its black pearls. There is a weekly flight on Thursdays from Rarotonga.

Rakahanga
Manahiki’s sister island comprises a lagoon surrounded by two islands and seven small islets. The main village, Matara, is near the southwest opening in the reef. Fishing and agriculture are the traditional employment.

Nassau
Located 55km south of Pukapuka, the small island of Nassau is covered with palms, and is the only island of the group without a lagoon. The village is located in the north-west. Inland there are rich taro swamps and fruit groves, and offshore there is good fishing. 

Suwarrow
A true atoll, Suwarrow has one of the best harbours in the Pacific. The islets of Suwarrow are the original treasure islands. Buried chests crammed with pieces of eight from Spanish galleons have been found here. Today, Suwarrow is a protected conservation reserve.

Penrhyn
Penrhyn is located 1365km from Rarotonga and is one of the largest atolls in the Cooks. This island is known for its natural golden pearls (poe pipi) and sandy beaches. The women of Penrhyn are famous for their finely woven rito hats, baskets, fans and mats, which are said to be the best in the Cooks. The main village, Omoka, is located in the west.