If you’ve never been to Aitutaki, or even heard of it, you’re in for a real treat. Aitutaki is like a postcard, with crystal clear water and palm trees for days. Aitutaki is the 2nd most popular island out of all 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands. Aitutaki is only 22 meters around the island, with a population of only 2000 people. Aitutaki is the land of palm trees, uninhabited motus and the most beautiful blue lagoon in the whole world. From the moment you get off the plane, you instantly feel relaxed. With the beautiful blue lagoon, it’s hard to take a bad picture. Aitutaki is a beautiful island, it’s quiet and serene, and you won’t regret visiting. For those of you who have never visited yet, we’ve included everything you need to know in this guide to visiting Aitutaki to make your visit that much more enjoyable.
Although once you visit, you’ll find out that its pretty hard to have a miserable time. Aitutaki feels like a magical place, as everyone is so friendly, carefree and peaceful. On Aitutaki, the views are incredible but the people are even better. When you’re riding along the road (theres only one main road), everyone smiles and waves, even though they know were not locals. Every time we were walking somewhere, someone tried to pick us up to take us there, and they don’t take no for an answer. If you’re planning a honeymoon, Aitutaki has to be on your list. Theres a lot to do on Aitutaki but we totally get it if you want to do absolutely nothing. Our guide to visiting Aitutaki will help you plan some adventures, but definitely make some time to sit back and enjoy the quiet.
How to get to Aitutaki
To get to Aitutaki, you’ll need to fly into the main island, Rarotonga. There are daily flights to Rarotonga from Auckland, and weekly services from Sydney, Tahiti, and Los Angeles. Once you’re in Rarotonga, there are daily flights to Aitutaki (50 minutes) throughout the day on Air Rarotonga. The inter-island flight can be expensive, so try to book ahead of time to get a better deal.
How many days should you stay on Aitutaki?
We stayed for 6 days and while it was absolutely wonderful and very relaxing, 4 days is plenty to see and do everything. If your main goal of this trip is to relax in the quiet, you might want more days on Aitutaki. If you don’t have much time on the Cook Islands in general, a one day tour from Rarotonga is also a great option, although expensive.
When is the best time to visit Aitutaki?
There really is no bad time to visit the Cook Islands. The shoulder months, April, May, September, and October, are usually the best, due to the sunshine, warmth, and less people. The weather is fairly consistent throughout the year, the only difference being the summer months have more rain. November to May is both the rainy and cyclone season. The rainy season can bring more humidity. Usually it just rains a lot for a short period of time and then gets sunny again, but there is always a chance that a cyclone may hit during the rainy months. During the summer months the temperature averages 84 degrees F. The average temperature in the winter months (June-August) is 77 degrees F. We have found the best time to visit Aitutaki is during April-October.
What Currency is used in Aitutaki
The Cook Islands use both New Zealand dollars and Cook Island dollars. Bring some cash, as not all places will accept credit cards. There are 2 ATMs on the island. If you need to exchange currencies, the BSP (Bank of South Pacific) is located in the middle of the island by the post office.
Things to do in Aitutaki
Take a Lagoon Cruise
This is an absolute must do while on Aitutaki. The lagoon is just so beautiful; it must be seen in person. Even the pictures don’t do it justice. There are many lagoon cruise companies that will spend the day on the lagoon, all including snorkeling and lunch. We choose Teking lagoon tours to take us out, and it was amazing! Teking and his crew were outstanding: funny, informative, and concerned about everyone’s safety. The food they cooked was delicious, and the cruise was great because of them! Tekings is a small tour, we only had 14 people total, spread out on 2 boats. The boats are small, so they speed from island to island. Teking lagoon cruise takes you to 3 different snorkeling spots, and 4 motus/islands, including the famous honeymoon island and One-foot island. These islands are just gorgeous! We almost went a second time because we had such a great time!
**If you come over for the day with Air Rarotonga, you will go on the Vaka Cruise. The Vaka cruise uses a more traditional boat and holds more people**
Explore Island Night
There are many different island night celebrations on the island, but we heard from many people that Tamanu Beach has the best one, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. For $75 NZD /person, you can have all you can eat buffet and enjoy the show. During dinner, they have a great band playing some songs, then after dinner the show starts. We were not ready for this show! It was incredible! The hula girls and the fire dancers were phenomenal. Then of course they pick some volunteers from the crowd, and I had to join, so Im sure that was great entertainment for everyone too. We were so glad we decided to watch this, as it was truly spectacular. The fire dancers are practiving to compete in a big competition coming up in July, so they mean serious business! Every Thursday night is the Island night at Tamanu Beach.
Visit One Foot Island
One foot island is a small islet off Aitutaki and some of the prettiest waters you’ll ever see. This is the gorgeous water and beaches that you see when you see photos of Aitutaki. Home of the smallest post office in the world. From One Foot Island, you can walk right out on a sand bar for the perfect view of the lagoon.If you don’t want to do the lagoon cruise, where you will visit One Foot Island, take a water taxi out to the island and spend some time enjoying the beauty. This is definitely worth it!
Hike to the top of Maunga pa
Mt. Maungapa is the highest point in Aitutaki at 124 meters, and shows beautiful views of the island from above. This is a little outside of the town center, but there will be a sign. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the bottom, or you can drive about 80% of the way, and then walk the rest. The last bit of the walk is pretty steep, so be prepared. Once you get to the top, theres an incredible 360 degree view over the lagoon and the motus. It’s a great place to watch sunrise or sunset.
Go to a Church service
If you are in town on a Sunday, attending a church service is a must do. Sundays are sacred in the Cook Islands. For this reason, almost everything is basically closed on Sunday. There isn’t a whole lot to do on a Sunday, as its meant to go to church and be with family. In fact, some stores won’t even sell alcohol on Sundays.
Visit Sonja’s garden cafe
Sonya and her husband, Tauono, opened up their house and garden in 2000. Now, Sonja does it all on her own. She has all kinds of fruits and veggies from her garden, also has great coconut cake and other goodies. Her market is open 10-5, and then she serves afternoon tea with goodies from 3-5. You can do a cooking class with Sonja, with fresh produce straight from her garden.
Rent a scooter and drive around the island
The island is not very big at all, so this doesn’t take long, but the views around the south of the island and through the east side are worth seeing. Most of the accommodations and restaurants are along the west side of the island. We recommend driving around the island at least once, as the south and east are still a little untouched and quiet.
Aituaki is home to some of the best bone fishing in the world! Around Aitutakis lagoon is an abundance of fish including tuna, marlin, and barracuda.
Stand up paddle boarding and kayaking
The calm lagoon is a great place for all levels of boarders and kayakers. The clear blue waters allows you to see some fish and coral even from the board. The lagoon is a great place to try some water sports out even for beginners. The water is pretty shallow, so you shouldn’t worry about big waves.
Where to Stay on Aitutaki
- Paradise Cove– This is perfect name for this place! Its only 12 bungalows, 10 of the beachfront, located right on the best beach on the island. The bungalows are small, but have a fridge and small kitchenette. And while there is currently no air conditioning (they are working on putting some in), the fans work very well and we had no issues with feeling hot, and we were there with high humidity! The staff is so friendly and welcoming and very willing to help out. We felt like family here! Paradise Cove is literally paradise!
- Matriki Beach huts– a small, budget option on the north west coast, with 4 beachhut options and a garden hut. Right on the beach, and close to town and restaurants. Prices start at 109 NZD/night (approximately $80 USD)
- Airbnb– there are tons of great rooms on Airbnb for under $100/night.
- Pacific Resort- A 5-star resort right on the Aitutaki lagoon. 27 bungalows and villas with air-conditioning and beach views. Bar, restaurant, and spa located on the property.
- Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa– the only resort located on the worlds most beautiful lagoon. The resort is full of bungalows along the beach, and the only overwater bungalows in the Cook Islands. You’ll be looking at the most beautiful water from your room. A truly romantic stay as its an adults only resort right on the beautiful lagoon.
- Tamanu Beach– Located on the western coast with sunset views. With 23 bungalows, two swimming pools, a restaurant and bar, and spa and massage services. The restaurant is great place for a special dinner, a BBQ dinner on Sunday, or enjoy the buffet and island night on Thursdays.
Places to eat on Aitutaki
- Mango trading– very reasonable prices for lots of food! Great chicken curry, fried rice, and burgers
- Puffys beach bar and grill– the best fish and chips on the island. Will grill or fry the fish.
- Boatshed Bar and Grill– Great fish sandwich for lunch. Dinner menu includes fresh fish, sushi and other local food
- Mainas superstore– burgers for takeaway
- Koru Cafe- Gret coffee shop, with breakfast and lunch
- Tamanu Beach– A great place for a special dinner, with pasta, seafood, and curry. Also has a great island night with BBQ buffet on Thursday nights
How to get around Aitutaki
Scooters are by far the easiest mode of transportation on Aitutaki. There are a few scooter rental places on the island. Popara Rentals, located by the Boat Shed Bar and Grill, for $25 NZD a day. A discount is available for week long rentals. Cars are also available for rent. Its also pretty easy to use a push bike to get around, since the island is so small.
Is Internet available on Aitutaki?
Although it is nice to disconnect, if you really need internet, you will have to buy BlueSky data and connect at certain bluesky hotspots. Throughout the Cook Islands, we found the prices to generally be: $5 for 200MB, $10 for 400MB, $25 1.5MB, $50 for 3MB. Not all places will have BlueSky hotspots.
If you’re even slightly thinking about visiting Aitutaki and the Cook Islands, just do it! The beauty of the water and the people on the island are unlike any other place in the world. From romance, to luxury, to budget, theres something for every traveler. Hopefully the guide to visiting Aitutaki will convince you to book your flight. And once you visit Aitutaki, youll never want to leave, trust us!
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