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Introduction

Mangaia (traditionally known as Auau Enua, which means terraced) is the most southerly of the Cook Islands and the second largest, after Rarotonga.

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Geography

Geologists estimate the island is at least 18 million years old, making it the oldest in the Pacific. It rises 4750 metres above the ocean floor and has a land area of 51.8 km2. It has a central volcanic plateau and, like many of the southern Cook Islands, it is surrounded by a high ring of cliffs of fossil coral 60 metres high, known as the makatea. The highest point is Rangi-motia, 169 metres above sea level, near the centre of the island. Lake Tiriara is a body of fresh water in the south. The population of Mangaia comprises about 700 people.

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Villages

The capital is the village of Oneroa, on the west coast, containing about half the population. There are two more villages, Tamarua in the south and Ivirua in the northeast.

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Sights and Activities

There is not much to do on Mangaia, except walking around, having a coconut, talk to the friendly locals and go fishing.

Fishing inside or outside the reef is very rewarding, and there is no ciguatera here unlike in Rarotonga. Spearfishing outside the reef is possible as well. There are some very nice secluded beaches, but the reef is to shallow for swimming. With a little common sense it is, however safe to swim and snorkel outside the reef when the sea is calm.

Mangaia is also good for walking.

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Weather

The Cook Islands have a tropical climate, meaning warm and humid weather year round but with constant sea breezes bringing some relief on the hotter summer days. November to April are summer months when it is around 28 °C during the day on Rarotonga and a bit warmer on Aitutaki which is more to the north. Temperatures at night are usually just 5 °C cooler or so. These months also have the most rain, with some tropical downpours during the afternoon, followed by sunshine again. Sometimes, several rainy days are possible. This is also the time that hurricanes are a possibility, although these don't strike every year of course. Wintermonths are cooler, especially on the most southern islands (around 25 °C during the day) but also drier and sunnier. Aitutaki has smaller differences between summer and winter regarding temperatures and the northern islands even less so.

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Getting There

Air Rarotonga flies from Rarotonga to Mangaia 3-4 Times a week. It's a short 40-minute flight with an Embrear Bandairante. There is a baggage limit of 16kg per passenger.

For the adventurous, the cheaper option is to go by boat. The "freighter" (let's call it a nutshell) Maungaroa II goes irregularly to Mangaia. Ask at the office of the inter-island shipping company in Avarua harbour in Rarotonga. Depending on the winds it takes anything between overnight and 2 days. Be prepared to be delayed several days, don't count on a fixed departure and arrival, because it leaves when they're finished loading, the winds are good, the captain is sober and the number of octopuses in the harbour plus the number of coconuts in muri equals the stars seen at 11:00pm at night, no matter what they tell you when it is supposed to leave.

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Getting Around

  • By foot you'll see the most, but you need time.
  • By motorbike ($20-25/day) at the petrol station in Oneroa. Tel 34307.

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Eat

Accommodations usually provide food. Self catering is also a good option if you fish. Bring as much non-local stuff like butter, eggs, meat, spices etc. as you need. These things are expensive on Mangaia.

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Drink

Water should be boiled before you drink it. There are plenty of coconuts.
Have a beer with the locals on Friday or Saturday at Babe's bar.

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Sleep

  • Babe's Place, ☎ +682 34078, e-mail: mangaia@babesplace.co.ck. All meals included s/d/tr 75/120/150.
  • Mangaia Lodge, ☎ +682 34324, e-mail: mangaia_lodge@yahoo.com. Breakfast including other meals optional at extra cost or DIY cooking. Across the road is a cliff top lookout where you can have lunch, read a book, relax or just view that beautiful sunset. s/d/tr 50/75/90.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 9:38 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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