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Rarotonga, Cook Islands, PACIFIC OCEAN

The capital Rarotonga is volcanic with a rugged, eroded centre of peaks and ridges, surrounded by flat lowlands about 1 km wide. Since Rarotonga is the youngest island, it is physically unlike its other volcanic neighbours where erosion and periodic submersions have reduced mountains to gentle hills. Compared with other atolls, the lagoon surrounding Rarotonga is quite small, covering only 8km2 (5mi2) and is relatively shallow. The fringing reef defines the lagoon, which is broad and sandy to the south, and narrow and rocky on the north and east. Most of the reef passes are too narrow, preventing waves from wrapping properly, and explains why there is only a handful of surf spots. The waves break over shallow reef, so it’s usually safest to surf at high tide and a decent-size swell will also help the waves to break in deeper water. All the reefbreaks are easily accessible by paddling out one of the passages or directly over the reef. Devoting a few weeks here should ensure some decent and definitely uncrowded waves.