The magnificent Aitutaki.
The lagoon on Aitutaki.
Catriona getting around the lagoon.
The view from the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort.
Catriona remembers a real tropical paradise and is the place to go for pure relaxation. Imagine sitting in a hammock, cocktail in hand, lolling under a palm tree doesn't sound too bad at all, eh?
The island is thought to have been settled around 900AD, shortly after the great Polynesian migration. The first recorded discovery by Europeans was in 1789 by Captain Bligh on the Bounty. He was on his way to Tonga and, little did he know, the famous mutiny. He returned in 1792 and introduced paw paw to Aitutaki, now an important export from the Cook Islands.
Life on Aitutaki, the Cook Islands second most populous island, is even more relaxed than on Rarotonga. It has a road that runs around the island close to the coast, passing through several villages. The round trip takes only a few hours.
Arutanga is about half-way along the west coast and is the main settlement. The old church there was built in 1828 and has beautiful wood carvings and simple stained glass windows. The harbour there is quiet and gentle, and you can get a good view of the entire western coastline from the end of the jetty.
There are only about 150 beds available on the island, but there is something for everyone's needs and budget.
Paradise Cove is budget-priced and is on the north-west side of the island on a white sandy beach. You can stay in a room in the main house with share facilities, or you can stay in one of the six thatched bungalows, right on the beach. Each bungalow has a queen or two single beds and refrigerator. All other facilities are shared. Prices start at about $16 per single in the main house and $20 per single in the bungalows a night.
The Aitutaki Lagoon Resort is the premier property on the island. It is on a small islet, connected to the main island by a footbridge. Right now there are 30 bungalows, with more being built. They each have separate bathroom, balcony, air-conditioning and ceiling fans, tea/coffee facilities and phone. The Deluxe bungalows have raised floors to maximise the view of the lagoon. There are two restaurants, a pool with a bar, boutique and activities such as snorkelling, canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing. If you feel like lazing about with your book, look for the hammocks between the coconut trees.
Aitutaki is part of the Cook Islands and is a 45 minute flight from the main island of Rarotonga.
Air New Zealand flies to Rarotonga via Auckland with Air Rarotonga connections to Aitutaki.
Orient Pacific has seven night packages including return economy airfares, two nights at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, five nights on Rarotonga and transfers, starting at $1680 from the east coast, $1907 from Adelaide and $2157 from Perth. Seasonal charges apply. Prices are as of the above date.
More informationAir New Zealand
13 24 76Jetset
13 63 83Orient Pacific
03 9690 1500
Website: www.orientpacific.com.auCook Islands Tourism
: 02 9955 0446