Take a solitary journey to one of the most remote of the Cook Islands and learn about the art of black pearl farming.
Escape to the exotic tropical wilderness of Manihiki, one of the most remote Cook Islands. Transportation and accommodation in these northern atolls is limited. Enjoy a glimpse into life in one of the world’s most remote tropical locations. Swim in quiet waters, learn to fish traditionally and visit a pearl farm.
Manihiki is located on the top of an underwater mountain that rises 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) from the ocean floor. It is part of a string of 40 small atolls, approximately 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from Rarotonga.
This tropical wilderness is worlds away from the fast pace of modern life. Walk barefoot on untouched sandy beaches, lounge under swaying palm trees, float in the blue-green lagoon or travel across the cluster of islets. Scuba dive on the reef or snorkel in the lagoon to see a magnificent display of tropical marine life. Learn to fish the traditional way using nets made from coconut palm fronds or take a night fishing tour to find maroro flying fish. Enjoy gourmet food, including karori, pearl shell oysters cooked in coconut cream.
The Cook Islands are renowned for rare black Pacific Ocean pearls. Manihiki is the industry’s epicenter. The 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) lagoon supports several pearl farms. Most islanders who live here work within the industry. Join a farm stay and discover the skills and traditions of growing these rare treasures. Harvesting black pearls in the wild requires skills of sailing and free diving to world-record depths.
Polynesian myths and legends abound here. Learn about the mythical folk hero, Maui, who fished the Manihiki atoll from the sea. Take a tour of the village of Tauhunu to see traditional houses. In local stores, find hand-made arts and crafts: hats, bags and mats weaved from coconut palm fronds as well as pearl shell jewelry and necklaces.
Manihiki is remote. Cargo ships land here, but the 4-hour flight from Rarotonga is the more reliable option. Bring good walking shoes for the uneven, jagged terrain. Check the limits for per person luggage allowance before you pack your bags. Storage facilities are available at Rarotonga’s airport if needed.