Rarotonga Main

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A South Pacific Dream Destination Rarotonga is the largest of the 15 Cook Islands, named after Captain Cook, who famously spotted them in his South Pacific voyages in the late 18th century. Long a favorite with sailors, Rarotonga, with its volcanic landscape of jagged peaks and deep valleys, is the only mountainous island in the Cook Islands. Its interior is mostly lush rainforest, and miles of white-sand beaches and an uncommonly clear lagoon fringe its shore.

The Global Volunteers program on Rarotonga is showcased in the 2009 ISLANDS Blue List for its focus on "voluntourism" -- a growing trend in combining volunteering with tourism. Contributing editor Jad Davenport took part in the program, helping efforts on the island to save from extinction the native tchee-kakerori bird. The experience opened his eyes to voluntourism as a better, more immersive way to travel. Read the full story.