Aitutaki: blue lagoons, beachside cocktails, scooter adventures
Itching to get on a jetplane again? If somewhere tropical sounds good, you might be in luck. Kiwis could soon be lounging on a Rarotongan beach, with hopes of a Cook Islands travel bubble opening up soon. Cook Islands tourism needs all the support it can get right now, and quite frankly, we’re more than happy to oblige.
Aitutaki is top of the Cook Island list. Just a 50-minute flight from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is made up of 15 tiny islands sprinkled across a turquoise lagoon. There’s plenty to do – or opt to do little but relax.
How to get there
The only way to get to Aitutaki is via a flight from Rarotonga. Air Rarotonga is the only carrier available, so best to book early to avoid disappointment (or a very expensive ticket).
Where to stay
Some visitors enjoy Aitutaki as a day trip, but we think it’s too good not to stay a few nights. There’s only a handful of accommodation options but you’re sure to find something to suit.
Etu Moana is a boutique option for travellers after a quiet, intimate holiday. It consists of just ten villas, but also has a pool and an honesty bar where you mix your own cocktails.
Pacific Resort is an award-winning luxury option. Wake up to spectacular views over the lagoon from your private bungalow, enjoy beachfront location and have some of the island’s best dining options on-site.
For a budget-friendly beachfront option with great reviews, try Matriki Beach Huts.
Aitutaki Village is a popular 3-star accommodation with bungalows in a garden setting. Just a skip, hop, and a jump to the sand (literally, just 20 metres to the beach), cultural shows and a great beachfront restaurant.
What to do
One of the best things about Aitutaki (and the Islands in general) is that you don’t have to do anything at all. But if you are up for an adventure or leisurely activities, there’s plenty to choose from. Take a lagoon cruise with BBQ lunch on board and join the turtles and tropical creatures with a snorkel. Sail in a catamaran, or have a go at kite surfing. Take a 4WD safari tour to Maunga Pa, or enjoy a fire-dancing show after a beachside massage.
Where to eat?
Grabbing a bite to eat on Aitutaki isn’t quite as simple as popping into Countdown or picking up a Macca’s combo. There’s small convenience stores, and you might stumble across some good old fish n chips. If you’re looking for somewhere a little special, craving something fresh, or keen to try the local cuisine, you just need to know where to look.
Koru Café is highly recommended for breakfast and lunch, and are open for dinner Friday and Saturday during high season (July/August). Enjoy french toast or big breakfast, crispy fish sliders, share a platter or choose from their all-day sandwich menu.
For island style food and ambience (including a sand floor), try Blue Lagoon restaurant at Samada. Most Tuesdays you can enjoy dinner while experiencing a local dance troupe show.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki has two dining options (for diners over 12 years). For a refreshing cocktail and easygoing meal poolside, visit Black Rock. For world class wine and fine food, opt for Rapae Bay – Ika Mata (the local raw fish salad, so fresh), sea scallop risotto, or wagyu beef, followed by a brown sugar pavlova or cheese platter.
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