An uninhabited but beautiful atoll, Manuae is a protected marine reserve. With a total land area of just 6.2 sq km, Manuae sits some 100 km southeast of Aitutaki. Rarely visited, this true atoll comprises of two islets, Manuae and Te Au O Tu, both of which lie on the peak of an underwater volcano.
What makes the Manuae Atoll important is the fact that this atoll
has the honor of being the first Cook
Island to be discovered by Captain James Cook on September 23,
1773. Though Captain Cook did not land here, he originally named
Manuae Sandwich Island, but later changed it to Hervey Islands after
the Lord Admiral Hervey.
Another interesting fact to note about Manuae is that the discovery
of this island is disputed by the people of Aitutaki
and Atiu. Aitutakians
believe the Manuae Atoll was first discovered by the great Polynesian
explorer Ruatapu, while Atiuans say that two Atiuan brothers were
the first to settle here with their wives.
A significant breeding ground for a number of seabirds in the
Central Pacific, the Manuae Atoll also plays host to female
marine turtles, who come ashore here every year to lay their
eggs. The waters around this atoll are abundant with marine life
and are a well-known fishing destination for locals and tourist
A former penal colony, today not many people visit this atoll, however, if you wish to come here, you can do so aboard the research vessel, the Bounty Bay. This boat carries tourists from Rarotonga to Manuae and provides some excellent diving and eco-tourism activities.