A COMPLETE TRAVELERS GUIDE TO AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS
January 1, 1970
Approximately, 7000 km East of Sydney lies the beautiful turquoise lagoons and barrier reefs of Aitutaki. Aitutaki is one of the most exquisite cook islands in South Pacific and North of Rarotonga. Also known as Araura or Utataki, it is the second most visited island in the Cook Islands. The beauty of lagoons and reefs team up with alluring fringed palm trees, hills and marine life including stingrays, turtles etc leaving the visitors completely awestruck.
A cheap and average time flight from Sydney and Aitutaki being less crowded than other holiday spots is possibly the best destination for couples, partners who seek privacy and people who want to lay down in sandy beaches to straighten up their back and chill.
HOW TO REACH AITUTAKI
You can fly directly from Sydney to Ratoranga and then take a flight to Aitutaki ( via AIR RATORANGA ) OR
you can fly to Ratoranga and travel to Aitutaki by boat if you want to cut down on expenses or make the trip romantic. The more convenient way is by flying from Ratoranga to Aitutaki.
PLACES TO STAY
A large number of hotels and resorts are keen to accommodate you throughout your trip to Aitutaki, so there is no shortage of incredible places where you can stay without even worrying about exceeding your budget!
On our first trip, I and my friend stayed at Aitutaki lagoon resort and spa. Its a beautiful private resort which is 2 minutes away from Aitutaki mainland by small private ferry provided by the resort. We spent most of our time outside enjoying exotic sceneries of the lagoons and beaches, but every minute spent inside the resort was made worth it by the manager and hospitality committee. The facilities provided made it as comfortable as our homes. And the food was really nice and cuisines were diverse. You could try a variety of new things and different dishes, basically a treat for our taste buds! It was not nat expensive, I would describe it as moderately priced. You can enjoy meals there without even staying in the resort, but prebooking tables. Basically, it is all we needed after a tiring day of sightseeing and playing at the beach, a comfy place to crash in with drinks in our hands and a beautiful view to soothe ourselves.
BEING A PART OF THE LOCALS OF AITUTAKI
On my second journey to Aitutaki, I had this feeling that living as one of the locals would be great. Although because of giving a short notice I could only get entry at Petero’s place, it was a bungalow situated very close to local units with Rakamo Raela (fondly known as Ra) as my host. The place is a beachside bungalow near the Aitutaki lagoon edge, in an unspoilt area of the southwestern side of the island. With your very own water’s edge paradise, you can be certain to have a peaceful and relaxing holiday.
It is located on the water’s edge, in a tranquil and secluded beautiful spot. It is perfect for couples or a single person wanting timeout or people looking for a break. Ra is a very cheerful caretaker of the place she will meet you upon arrival at Petero’s with her amazing smile and see that you are settled in and she will take care of you and make you feel like you are at a home away from home. If Ra, is not available then Lovina will meet and take care of you. They even planned a lagoon adventure, a fishing within the lagoon and deep- sea fishing adventure. The locals residing a little away were very nice and made me feel so welcomes and I DID NOT feel like an outsider at all!
GOING AROUND THE ISLAND
So I have been to these three places that I find breathtaking, I’ll list them below. They are basically all the places you will need to visit to have a fulfilling Aitutaki trip.
It is a 30-minute hike to this peak, which is basically the highest peak in Aitutaki. Honestly, it is tiring, but it is totally worth it. It provides splendid views over the entire atoll and the sapphire-blue lagoon. The track starts off pretty gently opposite the bungalows of Paradise Cove but gets more challenging towards the summit. But the beauty that you catch after this hike makes you forget all the hard physical workout you did to get there. All you will be able to think about the splendid view and the cleanest air that you are taking in at that moment. You can even camp anywhere near to enjoy the moment for a little longer!
This contains the beauty of nature at its best and also has a historical touch to it. Aitutaki’s stunning lagoon, brimming with marine life and ringed by 15 palm-covered motu (islets), is a South Pacific treasure. Maina(Little Girl) offers superb snorkelling and is home to the red-tailed tropicbird, once prized for its crimson feathers. Nearby is the wreck of cargo freighter Alexander, which ran aground in the 1930s. Tapuaeta’i (One Foot Island) is the best-known motu, fringed by white beaches and divided from its neighbour, Tekopua, by a deepwater channel that’s teeming with tropical fish.
All of these things do not seize to amaze you, even when you will visit Aitutaki again! And what is more amazing is that locals will tell you all the tales of the lagoon, taking you through the timeline of Aitutaki and its historical legends.
MARAE TE POAKI O RAE
So this is not a place of sight-seeing but an archaeological site. Its a place for a historical meet, that is, be here at the right time and you may know all the legends and myths and might stories of the legendary historical ideal of Aitutaki. They even tell you about the culture of the places with activities dating back to the establishment of tribes. Believe me, it is worth it!
I have been there for 2 to 3 weeks sometime and I am familiar with their Sunday church practices. Sunday is solemnly observed as the day of prayer and rest. you can take the opportunity to see a local church service, as the singing is spine-tingling.
On the east coast are the small villages of Tautu, Vaipae and Vaipeka. The motu around the edge of Aitutaki’s lagoon is uninhabited. You can a stroll though of all these places and get familiar with their culture and history.
Aitutaki Kite School is the only locally owned IKO Kiteboarding School in Aitutaki. They are open to tourists and help them to have the best experience. my personal experience was uplifting to such an extent that I still can feel it sometimes if I take a walk down the memory lane. kite school should be a must if you visit Aitutaki. Also, they are really good at teaching you everything and the next time you visit you will be able to do it on your own.
CAFES AND RESTAURANT TO DINE AT
Now that we have seen the beauties of Aitutaki, let’s talk about the real treat that this island provides, basically at treat for our taste buds.
These people are amazing, they provide a sensational experience by acing both the presentation and the taste of the food. they provide local dishes, common cuisines with all the delicacies. They specialize in seafood and Polynesian food with the special additional gluten-free menu. They are at their best for dinners and after-hours dining. I had mud crab, sea chowder and tuna which I found very delicious. They are amazing at what they do!
Located on the way to Ootu beach, Koru cafe doesn’t just provide a delicious experience but a beautiful one. They specialize in picnic lunches and BBQ and grills. What I tried here was a sweet dish called coconut cheesecake, I had not tried this ever before and now I am in love with it! Also, it’s open at all hours.
FLYING BOAT BEACH BAR AND GRILL
The diner place looks after in all ways possible. They provide you with good old BBQs as well as new treat and delicacies. To top this all, they have shows by local artists every day multiple times and born fire view for warm your nights. I tried the special steak which they served with 3 different sauces, It was one of the best beef I have ever had. Also, they have an exotic vegetable salad with dips that are highly refreshing and are served with drinks.
All of these are moderately priced and most of the dishes are cheap and if they are not, they are still worth every penny of a real foodie!
They have same easy and cheap flights to go back from Aitutaki. Now you leave with the full experience of all the good memories of a native of Aitutaki. This place will make you want to come here again and again. The miracle is, everytime you visit it is as amazing as your first time! The whole trip is very rejuvenating and calms mind and body both. After all this, you are ready to start afresh with your life.