What most defines the Cook Islands and leaves a lasting impression on tourists is the grace, art and skill demonstrated in song and dance – particularly a traditional dance known as the Ura.
Unlike most western dancers, the islanders tell a story with their bodies that matches the words of the song. The dancing, accompanied by highly rhythmic drumming is taken very seriously, with each island having its own unique songs and dances that are practised from an early age.
The Cook Islanders are considered amongst the finest Polynesian singers and dancers. And there are many competitions throughout the year where the competitive spirit between each island comes to the fore. Regular international awards are a testament to this phenomenal talent.
Close harmonious singing can also be heard in churches along with the powerful and emotional impact of chants and hymns during weddings and funerals. This range and talent of popular singing can be found at numerous festivals throughout the year.
String bands that play at restaurants, hotels and concerts, using combinations of modern electronics with traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells also provide tourists with a uniquely Cook Islands experience.