For the Easter holidays, I had a vacation in paradise! It was in the Cook Islands that I landed and I started my journey by 4 days in Aitutaki, one of the most beautiful atoll in the world! Here is a little NZ’s Polynesia.
Aitutaki is a Pacific atoll composed of a main island and 15 motus (including the famous Honeymoon and One foot islands). It is a volcanic island, so there is no beach anywhere on the main island. Only in the northwestern part of the island!
To access it, only one solution, take a ticket with the local airline, Air Rarotonga. The weather on Rarotonga was not the best when I landed but it was much clearer when I arrived at Aitutaki :
I didn’t know which part of the island was going to please me the most I took two different Airbnb, West Coast and East Coast.
At Enoa‘s place (West Coast),I was rather inland but close to the main village, Arutanga. Be careful, he charges the lift from the airport ($ 20 round trip), not very much like the hospitality of the island! I had my own bungalow with fruit and milk at my disposal. The comfort was pretty basic but everything I needed (kitchen included) was there. I stayed here for two nights. I found him moderately helpful for the activities of the island and especially he speaks very badly to the man who accompanies him and I am not a fan of this behavior.
At Pira‘s place (East Coast),I had a great view of the sea from my own small terrace. Her hospitality is really perfect! She will give you tips for renting, for cruises, etc. She will even be able to contact them for you. On the other hand it is quite far from everything (very good for calm) so you will need a means of transport. The bungalow is rather modern and well decorated. And you will also have fruits and milk available (as well as mineral water)! The lift from the airport is free. I stayed here for two nights as well.
Depending on your accommodation you will have easy access to fruits on the ground! There are some mini markets on Aitutaki. Being a small island you will not have much choice on products and prices are rather high. I have not tried the restaurants of the resorts, just a food truck or you can have a fish & chips for $ 9 (admittedly it is frozen food). This is a global reflection that I made myself in the Cook Islands. It’s not because there are rich tourists who can afford to pay that everything is expensive on the island. I find that the balance is not against the local population that does not seem so poor (contrast with French Polynesia).
Transport on the island
There is no public transport on the island. If you want to move you will have to rent a bike, a scooter or a car. I personally opted for the most economical solution, the bike! But not being a big fan of cycling I rather regretted my choice ahah! Even if there are no big hills on Aitutaki it’s not perfectly flat and especially it’s very hot! Moreover, you will find that no local moves by bike. They all have scooters (be careful, no helmet here).
On Aitutaki there is a beach only north west of the island (above the Pacific resort). There are no roads to access the beach, you will have to go through the private land of a resident. This is not really a problem. By cons I do not recommend going through the grounds of a resort, they will kindly tell you to go elsewhere (lived experience …). There are not many tourists (at least not in the “non resort” parts of the beach). It’s really nice to be alone in the world at the beach 😊.
On the rest of the island, you can of course swim but the edge of the lagoon is grass and not sand.
The lagoon water is very clear, you do not even need snorkeling equipment to admire the fish!
The flagship activity is to make a cruise visiting several motus and allowing to do some snorkeling in the lagoon. I chose the cruise to the day of Teking for125$.Teking will provide you with snorkeling equipment and a towel. Pira recommended me this one because they are small boats. Indeed we were 19 left in two small boats. The weather was very changeable in Aitutaki I had not booked in advance. I simply called the day of my arrival to know which day would be good weather for the cruise. I did it the next day!
Throughout the cruise you will meet other boats with other tourists. I really wondered where the tourists were hiding the rest of the time on the island so I did not see them !! Part of it can be explained by the fact that Air Rarotonga offers a visit to the Aitutaki day so tourists don’t stay on the island. And the other in my opinion is that some tourists stay wisely in their resorts and do not cross the island (shame!).
First snorkeling stop
A first snorkeling stop lets you admire Giant Trevally “GT”. We advise you to remove all your jewels before entering the water so they do not imagine they see food 😊.
Second snorkeling stop
A second snorkeling stop will allow you to admire giant clams.
We can see during snorkeling that the corals are unfortunately dead everywhere … They do not fail to give us some explanations and in particular to mention the French nuclear tests 😪
A little boat ride?
Honeymoon Island and lunch in Maina Island
While the team prepares the BBQ you will be dropped on Honeymoon Island, my favorite motu! It was named so by the first couple to have married here. You will be deposited on a large stretch of white sand! Here no dead corals / shells on the sand. Just sand (and Hermit crabs!). You can swim in the lagoon and make great pictures!
Then the team will pick you up to eat on Maina. The content of the BBQ depends of course on the products available at Aitutaki. I was able to eat breadfruit again, I forgot how good it was!!
One foot island
You will then be dropped off at One foot island for about 1 hour. You can walk on the island, snorkel, swim, etc. It is the most known motu of Aitutaki but honestly it was not my favorite motu! Must say that we end up with a lot of tourists … At the end of your stay, the team will stamp your passport with the stamp of One foot island 😊
Return to Aitutaki
The return to Aitutaki can be either direct (my case) or marked by other stops discovered. It depends on the weather, the time we took before. The return is in the village of Tautu. You will have of course the lift to return to your hotel (they brought me back my bike).
I really loved going to Aitutaki! I understand that a limited budget prevents to go but honestly, staying in Rarotonga is a bit like staying on Tahiti for Polynesia, this is not where lies the pearl of the country 😊.