Aitutaki – It’s Not Just A Beautiful Lagoon

GETTING TO AITUTAKI

Aitutaki is the quintessential Pacific island.  Swaying palms, stunning sunsets, crystal clear water and friendly people draw many normal tourists here each year.  IMG_3192

To get to the Cook Islands main airport, Rarotonga, please see this post.  Many people make a day trip here from Rarotonga, but I think you need to spend a few days here as there is just so much to do and see!  The best value is combining Aitutaki with Atiu so you get to see both the Tahitian Blue Lorikeet and the Rimatara Lorikeet.  I have pretty well covered how to do this on the Atiu post here.IMG_2872

BEST LAGOON CRUISE FOR BIRDERS

Although most tourists are attracted to the lagoon and fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving, there are also attractions for birders.  In fact, Aitutaki offers some of the easiest birding in the world!  If you want to see the stunning Red-tailed Tropicbirds, you can take one of the lagoon cruises that visit the island where they breed.  We did the “Yellow Boat” cruise which I felt was the most comfortable boat.  Not too big and crowded, not too small that it was hard to get in and out of it after snorkelling.  IMG_2925

WHERE TO STAY FOR BIRDING

After doing a lot of research, I discovered that the “Kuramoo” Tahitian Blue Lorikeets can be easily seen at the banana plantation across the street from Paradise Cove Lodges.  It was pretty cool to have the coconut tree through the deck!

IMG_3216We loved this place!  I knew we would based on research and it is also in the right location for the activities we had planned.  I really got a sense of the value being offered here when the Yellow Boat folks dropped us all back at our hotels after the cruise, I got a peek at other hotels and what people were paying for bungalows that weren’t even on the beach! The sunsets here are postcard spectacular!

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Joe is a lovely host and booked everything we wanted, even got a masseuse to come to our rooms for a special treat! IMG_3218 As a birder, I really appreciated having banana trees across the street where Blue Lorikeets (Kuramoo) could be easily seen.

Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana) checking me out!

Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana) checking me out!

ISLAND NIGHTS ON AITUTAKI

Cook Island dancing is amazing and no one should leave without experiencing an island night!  The dance groups are true family affairs with the older folks teaching the youngsters and sharing their culture.  We really enjoyed the island night at Tamanu, which was just 5 minutes down the road from Paradise Cove.IMG_3252

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  • Kay

    I just found your blog via one of your flyer talk posts. I’m excited about about reading through your archives and finding eco lodges for my own vacations. I’ve had a lot of trouble finding travel blogs that reflect my interests (eco-tourism, backpacking, flying in coach), so I’m really happy to find yours.

  • Hi Kay, thank you for your kind comments! This is only a new blog but growing. Are you planning a trip to Aitutaki or anywhere else? My next post in the Cook Island series will be about how to use miles to get to the Cook Islands but will relate to anyone wanting to redeem a Star Alliance South Pacific award and I will cover how to get there from North America and Australia/New Zealand and Europe.

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  • Kay

    Hi Tara,
    Right now, I’m trying to get a sense of where I want to go winter 2012/2014. I like to travel right after Christmas, which seems to be high season everywhere. I’ve a shortlist, but I’ll decide where I’m going once award tickets are available. Right now, Palau is high on my list. I can get there for 70K Skymiles and one stopover from New York. Award ticket availability looks good right now, and I’m hoping it will stay there.
    Kay

  • Palau is very similar to Aitutaki in terms of eco-tourism. Both islands are well known for their diving and snorkeling primarily, but both islands also have a fair amount of birdlife if you research it beforehand. http://www.palauconservation.org/cms/index.php/conservation-programs/conservation-and-protected-areas/species-conservation/birds-and-pcs

    Traveling to ANY Pacific island during high season on miles is going to be a challenge. School is out and lots of companies shut down over the Christmas-New Years break so competition is fierce for those awards. Just keep an eye on the availability and be ready to book the minute seats are released for the dates you want. You would be using Korean Airlines? I know Palau and other Micronesian islands are popular honeymoon spots with Asians, not sure if Dec/Jan would be a high season for that market though. You can also get there with United Mileage Plus, I just blogged about this yesterday in the “Getting to the Cook Islands” post. I know you are familiar with the programs but others who may find this post via Google may not be, so just making them aware.

  • Kay

    Tara,
    Thanks for your advice. I’m waiting to pounce on the tickets the second they become available. I’ve two options with my skymiles: Delta metal via NRT, and Korean metal via ICN. Honestly, it’s a dream destination, but one of a few I’m considering given that I want to fly in peak season. So far, I’ve been seeing good availability on route 300-330 days out, but the Christmas availability might be tighter.
    Kay

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