Aitutaki and its surrounding turquoise lagoon really is something straight out of a paradise islands brochure. Many people who fly into Rarotonga don’t even leave the airport but instead grab a connecting flight straight to Aitutaki.
How we got there
Flights depart from Rarotonga to Aitutaki about four times a day with Air Rarotonga. The flight lasts about 50 minutes and the plane seats roughly 30 people. A return flight costs in the region of NZD 500 per person. Not the cheapest!
As the flight comes into Aitutaki the pilot will fly in low and loop around so that you can take in views of the island and the lagoon. This is a breathtaking sight but our photos didn’t come out too well as some of the plane windows are pretty scratched.
There isn’t a huge choice when it comes to budget accommodation on Aitutaki however if you have money to spend there is a good selection of high end resorts. We stayed at Matriki Beach Huts which is a budget friendly group of self catering huts right on the beach with a couple of garden huts at the back. The toilets are shared but each hut has its own outdoor cold water shower. Our hut had a bed, table and kitchenette with a verandah looking over the beach.
Matriki Beach Huts is a family run business which really gives the place a great vibe. They picked us up from the airport and even drove us to the little supermarket so we could stock up on food and drink.
A 20-30 minute walk along the road from Matriki Huts you will find several small grocery shops, hardware shop and a couple of places to eat dinner or cake.
What we did
Snorkelling – My favorite thing we did on Aitutaki was spending the day out on a boat exploring the lagoon. We went out on Matriki’s speedboat and spent hours taking endless photos of turquoise water, exploring tiny uninhabited islands, drinking fresh coconuts and snorkeling with an array of fish including giant trevallies.
Hang on beach – on an island where it seems there is more sand than soil, hanging on the beach is a must. Take the time to relax in the sun, read a book and cool down with a dip in the sea. The water is pretty shallow which makes it easy to wade out and snorkel straight off the shore. Most resorts have kayaks and paddle boards for hire so you can get out on the water and check out views of the island from the sea.
Walk to Maunga Pu Summit – a short walk up to the summit gives you a view of the island 124 metres above sea level. Not quite a mountain trek but it does give you something to do if you start feeling a little restless with the all chilling at the beach.
Pick your own coconuts – there are coconuts everywhere and you can learn how to pick the ripe ones and how to cut them open. Yummy with a dash of vodka and a wedge of lime too!
How to get around
Aitutaki is only 17 km² so it is perfect for a bicycle. We rented one from Martini Beach Huts which didn’t have any gears so the couple of hills we came across definitely gave us a challenge! Most resorts will also have mopeds for rent if you don’t fancy cycling on those super hot days.
A couple of things to note
If you are considering self-catering it is worth noting that fresh food is limited in shops as everything has to come in on the boat from Rarotonga. Pretty much all the meat is frozen and fresh fish is rare in the shops. Most of the fresh meat and fish is either eaten by the locals or sold to the high end resorts. Fresh vegetables are pretty limited but there is a great selection of locally grown fruit and an abundance of coconuts.
If you have a room or hut next to the beach you need insect repellent. The mosquitos love me and I made the rookie error of sitting on the verandah before putting on insect repellant and got ravaged by them.
I think a visit to the Cook Islands just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Aitutaki so grab yourself a little slice of paradise and book that flight!