I spent a total of 3 nights here in Aitutaki, the second most populated Island in the Cook Islands, a mere 45 minute flight from Rarotonga, but what feels like an entire world or two away.
The magic starts before you’ve even hit the ground running, my biggest tip when choosing which flight to head over to Aitutaki on with Air Rarotonga would be to fly during daylight- the views from the plane are something that you just can’t miss.
When arriving to the airport, I was greeted with a mini coconut and an Ei (a traditional flower garland). Shortly after my bags arrived on a trolley outside the airport steps, I was on my way to the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa which is conveniently located less than five minutes from the airport, on it’s own private Island- Akitua, the only other Island other than the main Island which is inhabited.
I’ve been home for a week now from the Cook Islands, trying to think of how I can put this trip into words. The views, the sunshine, the kind locals, the fresh fish, and that blue, blue lagoon- Aitutaki is hands down, one of the most stunning places I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Long sunny days and lazy mornings by the water work together to make the days feel long, lucky for those who are only on a short getaway.
The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa feels remote, private and relaxing and with so much to do on the Island, it really gave me no intention to do anything but stay at the Resort and make the most of the Island. From exploring the Palm Grove, trying out the daily activities like Flower Garland making, Ika Mata Cooking demonstration and darting back and forth between the activities hut. My biggest decision each day was choosing which way I wanted to enjoy the water- by paddle board, kayak or by foot- I filled every minute of daylight with as much as I could.
I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places in my life but I think what’s special about Aitutaki is that it’s one of those places that really makes an impact on you. It gives you the appreciation of just how lucky we are to live on this planet, and how precious our untouched globe is. From living in big cities all my life, to seeing untouched, uninhabited Islands, I felt an awe of appreciation for what the world can be if we really look after it.
If you’re honeymooning, or just looking for an escape, this is it.
TO SEE & DO
My Aitutaki must do is to do a Lagoon Cruise with Bishops Cruises (NZ$95, includes lunch) which is a day tour that takes you out onto all corners of the lagoon so you can experience the uninhabited shores of One Foot Island and Honeymoon Island. The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) in length. This triangle shaped lagoon is huge with 15 islands in total, and you can’t come to Aitutaki without getting on the water to see it all.
Honeymoon Islands is the home of the Red Tail Tropical Birds and if you peek into the bushes, you’ll see the babies cuddled up to their mothers. On the trip, we anchored up to do a spot of snorkelling nearby the Island and witnessed meter wide clams which were as old as 30 years. The snorkelling in the Aitutaki Lagoon is spectacular to say the least and the highlight of my trip was seeing two adult turtles dart along the side of my boat.
One Foot Island is where you can get your passport stamped and where you’ll enjoy a BBQ’d lunch with views of neighbouring islands. A somewhat familiar view if you watched Survivor 2006, as this is where it was filmed.
Bishops Cruises also organises weddings on One Foot Island and Honeymoon Island, Private Charters, Photographers and One Foot Island drop offs. Special thanks to the incredible team at Bishop’s who were so informative, friendly and fun to hang out with on my day tour.
I was lucky enough to spend my time at the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa in two different rooms- a Premium Beachfront Bungalow and an Over Water Bungalow (the only ones in the Cook Islands). The warming rooms, outdoor showers & organic feel of the resort transports you straight to Island time.
The resort offers room service and spa treatments which you can either enjoy in the Spa or in your room and means you can have all the privacy you want. I loved being able to wander back and forth between the Resorts Restaurant- the Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill and the Bounty Brasserie, usually leaving with a belly of fresh fish and a green smoothie.
Much love to the staff & team at The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, your kindness and smiles made a huge impact on me and I can’t thank you enough for making me feel so well looked after. Without you, Aitutaki wouldn’t have been the same.
It’s very much true that the people make the place and I hope to be back soon.
THE AITUTAKI LAGOON RESORT & SPA