The Cook Islands - our most popular South Pacific holiday destination. Marie Pilkington shares Aitutaki with us in the second of her Cook Island Holiday write-ups with an infectious passion for this secluded destination. Do a little or do a lot - how about a full day snorkelling in the lagoon, holding a giant clam, a visit to Honeymoon Island, cycling Aitutaki Island, or simply relaxing by the pool.
If you’ve read my previous blog on Rarotonga, you’ll know I’ve fallen in love with the Cook Islands. Its laid back lifestyle, combined with stunning beaches, has made the Cook Islands my ultimate holiday destination.
Many Kiwis have been to Rarotonga and have experienced everything I love about the destination. But how many have been to Aitutaki? It is truly breathtaking. Less than an hour’s flight away from Rarotonga and you’re in another world.
Approaching Aitutaki from the window of our Air Rarotonga flight, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Stunning. It takes a lot to make me speechless, but seeing the lagoon from the air certainly took all words away.
Aitutaki is just 20 kilometres, big enough to explore and find lots to do, but small enough to feel incredibly secluded. We stayed just two nights in Aitutaki, making sure we got there early morning and left late at night. I definitely recommend making your stay three nights if possible – it’s worth it!
Where to stay
We stayed at the gorgeous Pacific Resort Aitutaki. I felt like I’d stepped into another world, which I simply wasn’t prepared to come back from. Throughout the resort you’re made to feel special, and nothing is too much trouble.
The infinity pool is fantastic. Just hop in, rest your hands over the side of the pool and watch the crystal clear waters of the lagoon lap just metres away from you.
We used the resorts complimentary cycles to head into town for the afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect in town, and there really was only a small bank, post office and food mart, but as you cycle the main road there are lots of cafes along the side of the road. I recommend stopping and taking a break – deciding which one to stop at is half the fun! We chose Ki Ki’s café and I can honestly say I had the best chocolate milkshake of my life!
Scooters are also incredibly popular to take in the whole island. Many Rarotonga resorts will organise your scooter hire when you’re there, although some holiday packages include bonus scooter hire so look out for a great deal.
Exploring the lagoon
As enticing as it is to lay by the amazing infinity pool at Pacific Resort all day, I strongly recommend you book a day out on the lagoon. It's the number one activity and is truly gorgeous.
There are lots of tours available, ask your Flight Centre consultant to recommend one that suits you. We chose TeKing Lagoon Tours for a full day out in the lagoon.
This tour stood out for me as TeKing and his crew jump in the water with you, taking you on a snorkelling tour throughout the day. I love snorkelling and exploring the underwater world, but find I’m not sure what I’m looking at and tend to stay in the same area. TeKing jumps in the water with you and takes you on a snorkelling tour around three areas of the lagoon. We were able to hold a giant clam, feel a star fish and explore areas of the lagoon I probably wouldn’t have gone by myself.
On this tour you also experience the famous Honeymoon Island and One Foot Island – don’t forget to take your passport to have it stamped by the post office on the tiny island!
A couple of final tips
- Two nights is definitely the minimum number of nights you should stay. The island is small, many think you can pop over in a day or a night, but there is lots to do and you may regret not staying longer.
- A lagoon tour/cruise is a must. Just looking at the gorgeous water from the beach edge isn’t enough. The lagoon is quite big and well worth heading out on the water to take it all in.
- Try and take a morning flight out and a night flight back, that way you make the most of your time on the island. Some hotels have a late check-out fee, which allows you to stay in your room until 6pm. I found this worthwhile, but many resorts have showers in the pool area, so if you don’t want to pay extra, simply check out in the morning and use their facilities to freshen up before you go. All hotels are happy to store your bags until you leave.
- If you wear jewellery, specifically rings, take them off when you go snorkelling! I heard so many stories of honeymooners while we were there who thought they’d be fine and their rings slipped off their fingers and no amount of diving/snorkelling could find them. The fish must have a stash of rings somewhere in that lagoon!
While writing this, I found it hard to describe just how beautiful this island paradise is. No amount of adjectives can paint the picture – seeing really is believing with Aitutaki in the Cook Islands!