The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands scattered over a vast tract of the South Pacific. Rarotonga is the easiest island the reach, and the one which obviously receives the most tourists. This guide will focus on where to shop for the best souvenirs and gifts on Rarotonga.
The Cook Islands, like Tahiti are renowned for their black pearls. Black pearls come in a large variety of shapes and colours, from pinks and yellows, to dark greens and greys. True black pearls are extremely rare, and therefore extremely expensive. Black pearls grow in a type of oyster which can grow to 10 pounds naturally, which means that these pearls can grow to be larger than normal. However, most black pearls are cultivated, not naturally occurring.
Almost every shop in Rarotonga sells some form of black pearls. The kitsch souvenir places usually sell the fakes (black pearls are rare… if the price is too good to be true… it is), to those selling unique settings and beautiful jewellery, to those selling the pearls loose. Prices can range and can go into the extremes, so it is best to do your research before making an investment.
My budget is relatively modest, so it helps that I also prefer modern and minimalist jewellery settings. It was also important to me to find pearls which were grown locally and set locally. I ended up purchasing my pearl necklace from a little local jeweller near Trader Jacks.
The pate is a slit style drum which is fashioned from a hollowed up log which is struck with a wooden mallet and produces and very loud and distinct sound. Even small pates can produce an extremely loud sound, and I can tell you from experience are probably not a very good gift to give a toddler. I make poor life choices.
The ukulele is another much loved instrument of the Cook Islands (and most Pacific Islands in fact). At the souvenir shops you can buy the usual tatt ukulele, but if you want a unique and special instrument I recommend visiting the prison handicraft shop which is located near the whale and wildlife centre. These unique instruments are extremely special, but they also cost a pretty penny as well.
I have been to several Pacific Islands now (six) and Rarotonga is the first one which I have found selling coconut bras in the tourist shops. For some reason I didn’t buy on. I obviously make poor life choices.
In case you missed buying some, then no worries! You can make a visit to some of the online stores and check out the different souvenirs available in Cook Island. You can easily find them online that too with great discounts and the best deals using various coupon providing sites like RetailMeNot, CurrentCodes, VoucherShops and CouponCabin.