While living in the Cook Islands for a couple of years, this breathtaking lagoon became a second home to us. We stopped counting how often we’ve been there. During all our stays, we found many hidden, pristine places and fantastic things to do in Aitutaki, which we’d love to share with you.
There are incredible things to do in Aitutaki, the most beautiful blue lagoon on earth: Cruise the lagoon, stay overnight on uninhabited Motus, kayak to unspoiled islets, go spearfishing with the locals, hang out and surf on Honeymoon Island, and enjoy little-known places and restaurants.
Here are our insider tips for all the great things to do in Aitutaki to make it a lifetime experience for you.
Let us also take you around the island in our video about Aitutaki.
1. Cruising the Lagoon by Boat and Kayak
That is simply mind-blowing.
The place to be in Aitutaki is its magnificent turquoise-blue lagoon, one of the most beautiful spots on planet earth.
Take a water taxi and cruise the entire lagoon area. No matter where you are or where you look, the colors of blue are so intense that you think you go blind – even with two sunglasses on ;-). Of course, there are white sandy beaches everywhere…
You can also head out to the Motus by kayak, which works great for the islets on the eastern side of the lagoon.
Start, for example, from Ootu Beach on the mainland’s peninsula to the Motus Akitua, Angarai, Ee, and Mangere.
Or row from Motu Akaiami either north to Tavaerua Iti and Tavaerua Nui or southwards to Muritapua, Tekopua, and One Foot Island.
Every islets and sandbank in the lagoon has splendid beaches and lush green palm trees – with hardly any people. Try also the superb snorkeling spots, the like little channels, pools, or coral banks around the Motus!
2. Overnight Stay on One Foot Island
One Foot Island – or Tapuaetai in Maori – is the most famous Motu of Aitutaki. It sits in the southeast corner of the lagoon, nearly 10 kilometers/ 6.2 miles away from the main island.
The islet has a gleaming white-sand beach and the most turquoise-blue ocean around it. As well as incredible views towards the lagoon and to the Pacific Ocean on its backside.
It is the ultimate place on this planet for island lovers who want to get away completely. Stay there overnight or even better for a couple of days which is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is truly one of the unique things to do in Aitutaki. As soon as the few daily boats are gone, you have one of the most beautiful spots on earth to yourself. One Foot Island and the stunning nearby sandbar Slice of Heaven, where you can walk over at low tide.
Tapuaetai hosts a two-story guesthouse for up to 4 people that you can rent directly from the owners. It is beautifully nestled under palm trees, overlooking a fantastic beach area. Basic but idyllic and perfect for an unbelievable experience.
Are you ready for this adventure?
We have all the detailed information you need for this fantastic getaway; see chapter “Where to Get All Detailed Information About Aitutaki”.
3. Overnight Stay on Motu Akaiami
Another extraordinary experience is spending a few days on Akaiami, one of the large Motus on the eastern edge of Aitutaki’s lagoon.
In the evening, you can enjoy the stunning sunset with a view of the lagoon and the mainland. Or you hike through the island’s rainforest to its backside. There you overlook the open Pacific Ocean with impressive waves, the rugged reef, and a beach of broken corals. Very idyllic for sunset, too.
You also have a good chance of getting to know the coconut crabs that live in Akaiami’s jungle area.
The Motu has two guest houses for up to 8 people each. Simple but perfectly fine for a stay of a couple of days. For more details, see at the end of the post.
Both accommodations offer kayaks to their guests, so you can explore the Motus Tavaerua Iti and Tavaerua Nui in the north or row down to One Foot Island in the south.
Bring your snorkeling gear as there are fantastic snorkeling spots around.
4. Motus Ee & Mangere and the Rockpools
Ee and Mangere are two islets next to each other that hardly receive any visitors.
Both have magnificent secluded sandy beaches and palm groves. They are only a stone’s throw from the mainland, and you can kayak over from the south tip of the Ootu peninsula in about 20 minutes.
It is a place where you can truly feel like Robinson Crusoe, exploring the Motus and trying to crack coconuts; there are plenty of those around.
Between the two islands is a channel that ends close to the reef of the atoll.
And nature has formed fantastic rock pools there that are so much fun to swim in.
Get some food and water ready and sun protection, grab a kayak, and off you go!
5. Spearfishing with The Locals
Spearfishing is the number one fishing method throughout the Cook Islands; it’s fun and brings food to the table.
For people in the outer Cook Islands like Aitutaki, it’s a daily routine. This is why many tour operators offer spearfishing trips to their visitors. A fantastic experience that definitely belongs on the list of things to do in Aitutaki.
It is also an excellent opportunity to learn from the pros how to harpoon and prepare your prey for eating on the spot – raw, not to forget! And so fresh and so yum!
6. Explore the Motus Rapota and Moturakau
Both Motus got a little famous for hosting episodes of the English reality show “Survivor”. In the center of the islets you can still find the remains of huts and the meeting point of the castaways.
But even more, these neighboring Motus are a very inviting mixture of black rocks and lovely secluded beach areas. Excellent for a day stay and a picnic with a stunning view towards the surrounding islands.
From time to time, the pigs of the landowners live here. So, you may encounter pigs on land and in the water.
PS: Rapota and Moturakau are located in the south of the atoll. They are a little too remote to row there, but a water taxi can drop you off and pick you up again.
7. Hang Out and Surf on Honeymoon Island
Honeymoon Island is a gleaming white strip of sand in the southwest of Aitutaki’s lagoon. It is so beautiful that you want to hug this place, walk on the sand strip and jump in the water forever 🙂
Besides, it is a kitesurfing hotspot. Take some lessons or get out onto the fabulous lagoon for a surf.
During the surf season from April to October, the sandbank’s green center of palm trees hosts a snug beach bar area for all surfers and non-surfers. There you’ll find cold beers, a couple of hammocks, and a very relaxed surfing community – what a great place, with a vibrant atmosphere.
8. Lazy Afternoon @The Blue Lagoon Restaurant
Some locations are just made for chilling out for hours. The Blue Lagoon restaurant is such a place.
It belongs to the Aitutaki Village guest house and sits on the southern tip of the Ootu Peninsula – right on the beach with a view into the stunning lagoon. You can eat and drink in a cozy environment and take a dip in the water whenever you feel like it. Fish & chips, local beer, and cocktails are delicious, and the sunset is fantastic.
Come around lunchtime, relax, and enjoy this awesome atmosphere until evening. Allow your mind to empty for hours and lazily jump into the warm blue waters, just because it is so damn inviting.
9. Adventures Above and Below the Ocean
There is so much to see in the waters of Aitutaki, and you can’t miss out. Each of them is one of the fantastic things to do in Aitutaki.
Inside the lagoon, you’ll find heaps of snorkeling spots. Like on the eastern side of the atoll around the Motus Tavaerua Iti and Nui and between Akaiami and Muritapua & Tekopua.
Along the southern atoll edge, the purple and green-yellow coral banks make an excellent environment for dazzling marine life, with schools of tiny reef fish and a couple of turtles.
And in the western lagoon area, around the giant clams, is the favorite place for the beautiful Napoleon fish and groups of bluefin trevallies.
Next to One Foot Island and Slice of Heaven, you will come across many Giant Trevallies (GTs). They are used to getting leftover food from fishers and tour guides and come by as soon as they notice boats. It’s awesome to swim with these big black fish.
But the most amazing thing you can do outside the lagoon is to meet the Humpback whales during the whale season from July to October. Usually, there are heaps of them close to the Arutanga passage along the west side of the atoll. The local guides take you there to swim or snorkel with these impressive giants, knowing their behavior very well.
And not to forget – there are numerous great dive and deep-sea fishing spots in the open ocean around the atoll.
10. Chill on the Beach Strip Behind the Old Runway
Not only the lagoon but also the main island of Aitutaki has fantastic beaches, most of which overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Although the beaches in the accommodations are not overcrowded, there are even more secluded ones. Our favorite is the white sand beach in the northwest of Aitutaki, just past the end of the old runway.
You have quite a bit of space here as it extends both south to Aitutaki Escape and north to Ranginui Sunset Beach.
11. Picnic @Maunga Pu
Maunga Pu is not only Aitutaki’s highest point and the best vantage point on the atoll. It’s also a perfect picnic spot.
Get a local snack and some cold drinks. Enjoy it with a 360-degree view of the main island and the entire beautiful lagoon.
It’s about a 20-minute walk from the main western road to the summit, and only the last 200 meters are a bit steep. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with a lush green plateau, a view of the stunning landscape, and hardly any other visitors.
12. Golf in Paradise
Yes, there is a golf course on Aitutaki!
Only a few visitors play golf in paradise.
So if you try, you will run into locals most of the time. These are pretty good at golf and regularly participate in inter-island competitions.
It’s fun, and the atmosphere is always relaxed.
At the same time, you will see the planes arriving and departing as the course is right behind the airport.
And when you’re done, relax on the lovely beach next to the old runway (see tip 10).
What Can You Do in Aitutaki for Free?
You can do quite a lot for free, because you are mostly out in the nature. Here are some ideas:
1 Water sports
If you bring your equipment, such as snorkeling or fishing gear, you can enjoy plenty of water sports at no cost. Many accommodations also offer water sports gear free of charge to their guests, like kayaks, SUPs, snorkeling kits. And there are numerous places around the main island, where you can hit the water and enjoy all these activities.
Kayaking can bring you into the lagoon for free.
2 Hiking on the Main Island
Besides Maunga Pu, Aitutaki’s highest point, some inland areas are worth a walk. Like the interior around the Piraki Outlook and from there to Maunga Pu.
Wherever you go, you can hike all areas by yourself, and you don’t need a paid guide.
3 Explore Less-Known Corners of Aitutaki
It’s worth exploring every corner of the main island, such as driving the dirt road around the southern tip with a couple of beautiful views towards the lagoon.
Or you can simply cross the interior of the island from south to north on the path that leads past the Piraki Lookout.
It’s also fun to turn into every side street and see what’s hidden there. In this way, you get to know many residential areas of the locals, who are always happy when visitors drop by.
4 Church Services
With 20 churches for its 2,000 inhabitants, Aitutaki has the highest church density in the world. You will find a church on almost every corner. Church services are colorful, full of beautiful chants and visitors are always welcome.
Please respect the dress code:
- The women’s clothing should cover the shoulders and knees.
- Men should wear long trousers and a shoulder-covering top.
Is Aitutaki Worth a Visit?
Yes, yes, and yes, Aitutaki is worth a visit. It has the world’s most beautiful blue lagoon, with the main island and 15 tiny uninhabited islets. You can enjoy lots of pristine, stunning places. With few visitors, it’s much more laid-back than Rarotonga, has only a few shops, and almost no nightlife.
Aitutaki is always in the top 3 when it comes to the most beautiful lagoon in the world. It’s composed of stunning Motus, crystal clear water, and all shades of the color blue. Unlike the lagoon of Bora Bora in neighboring French Polynesia, its toughest competitor for the 1st position, Aitutaki has not many tourists and is still remarkably unspoiled. The lifestyle is very laid-back.
The mainland has a couple of well-rated luxury hotels, such as the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, and some fine dining options. Besides, you find good quality guesthouses and superb restaurants and cafes to go to for yummy and fresh local food.
Aitutaki is not the place for shopping, though. There are a couple of grocery and souvenir stores, but that’s it. Nightlight does not exist, and there is no noisy beach entertainment.
If you decide to travel to Aitutaki, make your stay a memorable one and give yourself at least a few days on the atoll. Please do NOT take the one-day tour from Rarotonga because it is not doing Aitutaki justice. You can enjoy yourself at so many incredible places, and you would miss out on so many things.
Where to Get All Detailed Information About Aitutaki
First, find out more about Aitutaki, including a great photo gallery on our website.
Then we also have tons of additional information for you on the insider tips in this post and each of the following topics in our Travel Guide of the Entire Cook Islands, including all contact details and geocodes of the described locations:
- How to get to Aitutaki
- Facts and Stats
- Best time to travel
- What to do in case of an emergency
- Tips where to stay, eat and drink
- Tips where to shop
- Everything about the infrastructure
- Details about every Motu, including its guesthouses
- List of all water taxis, tour-, surf- and dive operators, etc.
- Points of interest around the main island and in the entire lagoon
- Top Tips
Curious to find out more?
The travel guide covers the entire Cook Island, meaning you will get all of the above-detailed information for each of the 12 inhabited islands. So that you can discover and experience even more of this beautiful island nation.
You Might Also Be Interested In …
More related questions around the Cook Islands. Like
Which Marine Animals Can I Find in the Cook Islands?
Here are all the details about the Vibrant Marine Life in the Cook Islands.
Are There Any Dangerous Animals in the Cook Islands?
If you are interested in these facts, look at our post about 10 Dangerous Animals in the Cook Islands.
What Do I Need to Know About Animals in the Cook Islands in General?
Have a look at the 9 Important Facts About Animals in the Cook Islands.
Are There Any Sharks in Rarotonga?
Get some more information about Sharks in Rarotonga and 9 Popular Spots to See Them.
As well as our special article about: Dengue Fever in the Cook Islands, Facts and 5 Helpful Steps if You Get Sick