Travel Guide to Aitutaki Island

Aitutaki island

Wow! I think is the best example of the word, ‘surreal’. Though it is too beautiful an island to be true, but it is true, and real, mate!  The picture is of one of the atolls that belong to Aitutaki Island. The atoll’s name is Tapuaetai.

From the picture, you can easily conclude the atoll is a sheer tropical paradise.  The turquoise color of the sea and the contrasting white sand indicate, the sea is South Pacific Ocean.

Where is Aitutaki Island Located?

It is surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean. It is located somewhere between Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Now, doesn’t the location make something stir in you?

Let us look at its location:

Aitutaki Island is part of the Cook Islands archipelago. To be more specific, the island is part of the Cook Islands’ southern group of islands.

Overview of Aitutaki Island:

In the location map, spot the ‘Rarotonga Island’. It is the largest of Cook Islands chain, and the ‘star’ mark points to the Avura Town, the capital of Cook Islands.

It is one of the Polynesian Islands. Tahiti, the main Polynesian Islands is located towards its east.

The island is ranked number two in the Cook Islands archipelago in terms of population.

It is an atoll, a ring shaped [sometimes odd shaped], comprising small islets.

There are 22 islets that are all surrounded by a lagoon. While the area of lagoon is quite large consisting of 74 sq. km, the overall land area of all the 22 islets is only 18 sq. km.

When tourists find the hotels are a bit expensive in Rarotonga Island, they land on its neighbor Aitutaki. Thus, it is one of the major tourist destinations in the Oceania group of island near Australia, and New Zealand.

The island is situated above 400 feet from its host, the South Pacific Ocean.

How to Reach Aitutaki?

The only way to get to Aitutaki is to fly for 50 minutes from Rarotonga Island.

Rarotonga Island is equipped with an international airport. It receives flights from New Zealand, Australia, and some cities from the United States’ west coast.

There are several flights daily between the two islands. As a matter of fact, you can consider doing a day trip to this island from Rarotonga, since the flying time is only 50 minutes.

Is There an Arranged Tour from Rarotonga?

Yes. The tour starts at 8 am. You will reach around 9 am. Enjoy the various pristine, and beautiful beaches, visit some more attractions,, snorkel, swim, and eat local specialties before boarding the return flight.

The return flight will at 4.30 pm to Rarotonga. Does that sound a cool idea?

Where to Stay on Aitutaki?

Oh, the options are aplenty. Resorts, hotels, numbering nearly 50 welcome you. Some of the resorts are built on private islets.

The top recommended places to stay:

  • Pacific Resort
  • Lagoon private island resort [this is very expensive because the beaches on all four sides of the atoll are reserved exclusive for the guests].
  • Tamanu Beach Resort [it is located in a picturesque location, and the rooms are tastefully furnished].

The accommodations are under thatched roof shed.

  • Tai Roto Bay Beach Villas
  • EtuMoana [located at the foot of a hill] is surrounded by lush green environment.
  • Kuru Club [you get private swimming pool and a beach]. Located very close to the airport in Aitutaki.

Mostly, the prices are between $200 to $300 per night.

When is the Best Time to Visit Aitutaki?

Just avoid June, July, and August months. The rest of the year is good with pleasant weather.

What to Eat on Aitutaki?

  • Can you stomach Octopus? It is called, ‘curried eke’ on all Cook Islands. It is widely served. The locals eat it with rice. The Octopus itself is cooked in coconut milk, and fried with onion, and garlic.
  • Ika Mata [Polynesian name for the ‘ceviche’.]

Ceviche is only for people who are used to eating raw fish. The fish is marinated for 4 hours in lemon juice. While serving, coconut milk cream is poured on the meat. A bowl of vegetable salad is also given.

Incidentally, Ikamata is the national dish of Cook Islands.

  • Rukau [Luau]

This is mashed ‘taro’ leaves.  In ancient times, the Polynesians just ate the mashed green leaves. Slowly, coconut milk was added. Till that time, Rukau was a pure vegetarian dish.

Due to western tourist demand, crab, clams, or fish are used to be added. Of late, even beef or mutton neat are found in Rukau.

  • Rori

Just don’t forget to taste this local delicacy. The dish’s main ingredient is sea cucumber.

Note:

This is not a vegetable, buddy, but a sea creature.

The local chef, fry this seafood in butter. A number of spices are added to quell the bad smell.

Travel Guide to Aitutaki Island

  1. Tapuaetai

Visiting other atolls that are very near the main atoll is the foremost thing to do. This will appeal to nature lovers, marine biologists, snorkelers, and scuba diver.

There are numerous colorful fishes, giant clams, reefs, and the rare sea cucumber.

The islet is so small that you can explore the island on foot. It is just half a kilometerlong, and only 200 meters wide.

One Foot Island

The dense trees may be a good place to spot some land birds that include Red Junglefowl, Pacific cuckoo that has a long tail, Brown Noddy, Great Crested-Tern etc.

More details are mentioned further down on this post.

Tapuaetai is also called “One Foot Island”. There is a real story behind the name.

  1. Sandbank

There is a sandbank on this islet. It will steal your heart. Sandbanks are rare geographical features. You can all it an island that is devoid of any greens.

YouTube video

It is a surreal sight!

  1. Cruising the Lagoon

Cruising the LagoonAs mentioned earlier, the lagoon around which, all the islets are located is fairly large comprising 74 sq. km.

Cruising to the lagoon, stepping onto several uninhabited islets is one of the favorite things to do while visiting this island.

You will be taken to the following islets:

  • Tekopua
  • Mangere
  • Atiu
  • Akaiami
  1. Scuba Diving, and Snorkeling

The underwater creatures attract marine biologists and wildlife enthusiasts in great numbers.

Tourists from far off New Zealand and Australia too, visit this island for its impeccable beach and diverse marine life.

  1. Beaches

The turquoise water is so clear that it can’t keep off the filmmakers. Several films were shot in and around the island.

Ootu is the most popular beach. Since the island can be explored on foot, you can happily walk into the water on all four sides.

The lack of commercialism, and tourist crowd, make the island a haven for holidaymakers.

The Akaiami Beach has several coconut trees that provide welcome shade.  Akaiami is actually an uninhabited islet. The land is full of coconut groves.

During your Aitutaki lagoon cruise, you can set afoot on Akaiami. The clarity of the sea and the lack of waves will surprise you. You will feel an irresistible urge to jump into the water.

YouTube video

Don’t resist your urge; yield to it, man!

Arutanga Beach is an important one because; it is where the island’s port is located.

The beach in front of the Marine Research Center is also recommended for swimming, and fishing.

Honeymoon Island is one of the islets of Aitutaki Atoll. The name indicates a deserted beach and silence.

  1. Kayaking

The Aitutaki lagoon is suitable for swimming because of lack of waves. Therefore, one can paddle in a kayak without any help from the local fishermen. The freedom you feel while sitting on the kayak, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean is overwhelming.

Most of the hotels rent out the kayaks and the paddles.

  1. Kitesurfing

This is a fabulous water-based adventure. You get on a surfboard, and hang on to a kite. When the kite is moved by the wind, you surge on the water.

  1. Standup Paddling

Well, this is a different and generally safe water sport. You just stand on a surfboard, and paddle yourself.

Do you think you can make it?

  1. Fishing

You can’t keep a tourist quiet from fishing-right? Fishing is allowed only in certain areas of the island.

The most trapped fish is stonefish. Fly fishing, angling, and spearfishing are some of the fishing methods, the tourists will employ in the lagoon.

By the way, do you know what is meant by Fly Fishing? The bait is an artificial fly and the vulnerable fishes get hooked when they try to bite the fly.

  1. Birds to Watch

The wildlife, especially the avifauna in this part of the world is exotic and endemic too.

Below are some of the birds you can spot.

  • Blue Lorikeet
  • White-tailed Tropicbird
  • Brown Booby
  • White Tern

Man, isn’t iy breathtaking!

  • Great Frigatebird
  • Red-tailed Tropicbird
  • Whistling Duck

Note:

Aitutaki Island is classified under Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, a global NGO.

  1. Mongapu Mountain Hike

MongaPu is the only mountain on this island. The summit at 410 feet offers awesome views of the South Pacific Ocean, and the Aitutaki atoll, and islets.

  1. Sailing

Among various forms of water transportation, sailing is the most dramatic and thrilling experience. This water sport is available in this island. The sail boat is known as a catamaran, that is rather long (17 feet),

An organized 2 hour sailing tour is offered that including snorkeling session. Ask your hotel reception desk about this tour.

Aitutaki Island ranks number 2 on the most visited Cook Islands archipelago. The color of the sea, the peaceful and noise-less town, the white sand beaches, and beautiful birds are the alluring features of the island.