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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Cook Islands Aitutaki

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Introduction

Seclusion and Beauty of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands

Seclusion and Beauty of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands

© All Rights Reserved TulsaTrot

Aitutaki is one of the main Cook Islands and has a lot to offer, including a beautiful lagoon, where you will find numerous sand bars, coral ridges and 21 uninhabited motu (lagoon islets). To add, it is also a good place to enjoy the life of the Cook Islanders. One of the best is Maina Motu which offers great snorkelling on its coral formations. Here you will also find powder-white sand bars. Tapuaeta'i (One Foot Island) also has a huge white stretch of beach, fringed with palms and with turquoise waters in front.

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Geography

Aitutaki is an "almost atoll". It has a maximum elevation of approximately 123 metres with the hill known as Maunga Pu close to its northernmost point. The land area of the atoll is 18.05 km2, of which the main island occupies 16.8 km2. The Ootu Peninsula, protruding east from the main island in a southerly direction along the eastern rim of the reef, takes up 1.75 km2 out of the main island. For the lagoon, area figures between 50 and 74 km2 are found. Satellite image measurement suggests that the larger figure also includes the reef flat, which is commonly not considered part of a lagoon.

The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands including Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua.

The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki's important features including a boat passage through the barrier reef allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga. Towards the south of the side is a small break in the barrier reef, allowing access for small boats to the lagoon which covers most of the southern part of the triangle. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island. Its fertile volcanic soil provide tropical fruits and vegetables. Two of Aitutaki's 15 islets (motus) are also volcanic. The rest are made of coral.

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Villages

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Sights and Activities

  • One-Foot Island is a must see with blue lagoons and white sandy beach. There is a post office (box), one of the most remote in the world. There are beaches for swimming, you can walk around the island. Best snorkelling seems to be around the island past the rock ledge, towards the reef.
  • Lagoon Tours - If the weather is nice, or even if it's not too bad, a lagoon cruise is near idyllic. Aitutaki's lagoon is supposed to rival Bora Bora in French Polynesia for beauty, and all of the lagoon operators are reputable and offer excellent trips. There is not a best operator on Aitutaki for Lagoon Cruises so look around and decide what kind of a cruise you are looking for - smaller more intimate cruises which stay away from One Foot Island during peak periods, or larger slower boats with entertainment and toilets on board. Unless it's a terrible day you can't go wrong. For those that prefer to "do their own thing" another way to enjoy the Aitutaki Lagoon is to hire a kayak or outrigger canoe from the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa and paddle out to the nearest islet "motu" a few hundred metres away and go as far as is comfortable exploring the uninhabited islands. Book a picnic lunch and find your own beach without another soul on it.

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Events and Festivals

International Kite Surfing Contest

Held on Aitutaki in late June, the International Kite Surfing Contest is an annual festival that celebrates the rich natural gifts of the Cook Islands. The event attracts kite surfing enthusiasts and competitors from all over the world.

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Weather

Sonnenuntergang auf Aitutaki

Sonnenuntergang auf Aitutaki

© All Rights Reserved stefan08

Aitutaki has a tropical climate, meaning warm and humid weather year round but with constant sea breezes bringing some relief on the hotter summer days. November to April are summermonths when it is around 30 °C during the day. Temperatures at night are usually just 5 °C cooler or so. These months also have the most rain, with some tropical downpours during the afternoon, followed by sunshine again. Sometimes, several rainy days are possible. This is also the time that hurricanes are a possibility, although these don't strike every year of course. Wintermonths are just slightly cooler (around 28 °C during the day) but also drier and sunnier.

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Getting There

By Plane

Air Rarotonga operates domestic flights to Aitutaki from Rarotonga, Atiu, Manihiki, Penrhyn Island and Pukapuka.

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Getting Around

Car and Scooter (or Moped) hire are the main forms of transport on Aitutaki. This can easily be arranged through any of the rental companies (or better accommodations) on the island. Prices tend to be higher and quality a bit lower than on Rarotonga.

A driver's licence is $2.50 NZD and can be purchased at the police station in Arutanga (also known as town). You will need to present your foreign driver's licence to obtain this. You are not required to have a motorcycle licence on your licence from your home country to obtain a licence for scooters & motorcycles in the Cook Islands; driving down to the police station is typically your practicum, although very rarely they do short tests. The licence is paper with no photo identification and lasts for a year. An Aitutaki driver's licence is cheaper, easier to get, and faster than getting a licence in Rarotonga and your Aitutaki licence will cover you for the whole Cook Islands. Licences in Rarotonga cost $20 with an additional amount for a practical test. There are sometimes lines in Rarotonga at the licence office so if you can avoid it, and you don't want a laminated photo id, the Aitutaki licence is the way to go.

Prices for cars can vary on which model chosen and which company used but typically $65 to $85 a day is usual with a refundable $40 petrol deposit. Cars typically tend to be automatics and are pretty reliable under the hood but will usually have some superficial damage.

Scooters are much more economical at $25 a day with a $10 petrol deposit. There is some competition with scooters so if you are not happy with yours you have other options. As with the cars, the scooters are typically in good condition and safe to drive, but will not be vespas or straight out of the box. Typically rentals are automatic, but ask and manuals should be available. Manual scooters can be in better condition because they are not rented as often.

Taxis are expensive on Aitutaki. Rates are based on how far you are going, anywhere from $10 per person for short trips to $20 NZD per person, booking ahead is highly recommended and you can confirm your price then. The're two taxi companies on the island (some restaurants & bars will have their own vehicles for pickups) :

  • Pacifica Taxi - excellent service and reliable.
  • Tropicool Tours - as the name suggests, does day tours around the island, transfers for Lagoon Cruises, and transfers for Cafe Tupuna. It is operated by Nane Herman who is a wonderful resource on island life and usually arrives with flowers for her guests, the only problem is that she can have limited availability for taxi services.

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Eat

Try the island's Ike mata (raw tuna) with coconut milk. It is delicious! And Poke a Cook Island Banana pudding which usually comes baked in the Earth oven or "Umu" Try not to eat snapper as they may give you ciguatera.

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Drink

The Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill at The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa offers the best views of the fabled Aitutaki Lagoon as it is located directly on the lagoon on the private island of "Akituta". Enjoy a tropical cocktail as the sun goes down.

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Sleep

The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa enjoys the premier location on its own private island "Akitua" directly on the fabled Aitutaki Lagoon. Offering the islands only overwater bungalows, Royal Honeymoon Pool Villa as well deluxe beachfront bungalows, premium beachfront bungalows and beachfront bungalows all directly on the lagoon.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Amuri SandsMain Road Amuriapartment-
Gina's Garden LodgesP.O.Box 10 Tautu VillageHotel-
InanoBeach bungalowsPO Box 48Guesthouse-
Paradise Cove LodgeMaunga Pu,Amuri,AitutakiGUESTHOUSE-

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This is version 7. Last edited at 6:54 on Aug 22, 16 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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