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Aitutaki: the jewel island of the Cook Islands

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Aitutaki is an island located 235 km north-east of Rarotonga. The island occupies an area of only 18 sq km and is home to around 2,000 inhabitants. This island is after Rarotonga the island of the Cook Islands most frequented by tourists. Aitutaki is a rather flat island, the highest point of the island is Mount Maungapu, a hill that reaches 124 meters. The island is of volcanic origin and is surrounded by a beautiful triangular lagoon dotted with numerous sand islands (motu).

The only village on the island is Arutanga, which is located in the center of the west coast of the island. The main island is located in the northern part of the lagoon. The coral reef completely surrounds Aitutaki, only along its western part there is a narrow passage, the Arutanga Passage, in front of which is the small port of the island.


All the islets that dot the island’s lagoon are heavenly places. One Foot Island, for example, is a small sandy island in the southeast part of the Aitutaki lagoon, and probably the most famous attraction on the island for its beauty. This idyllic islet has banks of white sand and crystal clear water, its shape resembles a footprint, hence its name.

Historic places: Near the sea in the small village of Arutanga is the Arutanga Christian Church, built in 1828. This is the oldest church in the Cook Islands. There are numerous ancient Polynesian temples that dot the island. The most interesting are located in the southern part of Aitutaki and are the Marae Tokongarangi, the Marae Poaki O Rae and the Marae Arangirea. While to the north is the Marae Te Au Tapu.

Polynesian songs: On Sunday you should not miss a religious service in the Arutanga Christian Church to listen to the magnificent Polynesian songs.

Snorkeling: Snorkeling is very popular in the Aitutaki lagoon. One of the best places for snorkeling in Aitutaki is around the Maina motu group in the southwest corner of the lagoon.

Whale watching: Between July and October, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) can be seen in the waters of the archipelago.


Air Rarotonga flies daily from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. If you have limited time, you can also take a day trip from Rarotonga. But given the beauty of the lagoon it is advisable to stop at least two or three nights in Aitutaki. The small airport of the island is located in its northern end. It was built during the Second World War as a military airport.


Manuae (6 sq km), located 100 km southeast of Aitutaki, is a small uninhabited atoll formed by two small islets, Manuae and Te Au O Tu, with some sandbanks.

The island is a marine park, a resting and nesting place for birds and sea turtles. The island is the only point where what remains of a huge volcano emerges from the sea, which is found today beneath the surface of the ocean. Manuae was discovered by European navigators in 1773. It was the explorer James Cook who sighted the island. At the time the island was inhabited by a few dozen people.

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