Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Rarotonga’s landscape hints at the relaxed lifestyle its 10,000 residents enjoy: There's only one main road—without a single stoplight—following the 32-kilometer (20-mile) perimeter. The island's most visible landmark is a towering granite pinnacle known as the Needle, which rises from razor-backed ridges. Rarotonga’s other main calling cards are its Muri Lagoon, a dazzling patchwork of soothing blue hues, and its extraordinary people. Cook Islanders have a passion for Polynesian drumming and dancing, which they perform with an old-school, hip-swinging intensity that gets even bystanders’ hearts racing. The singing at Sunday church services is equally inspiring.