Aitutaki Cook Islands

Aitutaki Lagoon

The Aitutaki Lagoon is the jewel of the Cook Islands. Aitutaki's Lagoon is one of the most beautiful environments in the world.  I worked my sailing business on the Aitutaki Lagoon for ten years.

Maina Aitutaki Cook Islands
Ben Grummels, 10 year resident and author of this Aitutaki website.


VIDEO OF THE AITUTAKI LAGOONAitutaki lagoon video.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands has the same longitude as Hawaii and the same latitude as Hawaii except south of the equator instead of North; ie similar climate of Hawaii. Aitutaki, Cook Islands is in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and centre of the Polynesian Triangle. See Travel to Aitutaki about getting to the Cook Islands and on to Aitutaki. Photos link on the right of this webpage will show you some of the 14 uninhabited islets (motus) on the barrier reef surrounding the Aitutaki Lagoon offering some of the best beach holidays in the world. Motu Akitua near the south eastern end of the US army built aeroplane runway has a resort which I used to relief manage when my yachts operated from this 15th islet.


There is no Corona virus on Aitutaki. The whole population of Aitutaki has been fully vaccinated

In 2023 the Cook Islands and Aitutaki borders are open and welcome travellers. In 2023 flights to Aitutaki came via Air Rarotonga, Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines.

2021, Aitutaki was the first island in the South Pacific to get cabled high speed internet access (HSIA).
internet Aitutaki

Snorkelling in Aitutaki Lagoon's protected water will reveal all types of living coral inhabited by spectacularly coloured tropical fish. To get full enjoyment out of snorkelling it is VERY important to understand "Ben's Law of Lagoon Turbidity". While the Aitutaki lagoon is calm, the prevailing south east trade winds do build a small swell which after a couple of days is enough to stir sediments on the leeward side of the Aitutaki island.

On these days snorkelling gets better the closer you get to the windward side of Aitutaki's triangular fringing reef, including just inside the Aitutaki's reef. One Foot Island, and Motu Maina southern reef side of Aitutaki Island are fine with the South East Trade winds  This wind direction is good for standing on the northern reef of Aitutaki, casting a wind assisted fishing lure. In the wet season wind / swell directions are less predictable. A northerly wind means that snorkelling the Aitutaki barrier reef near the western end of the runway is clear visibility (low turbidity) while surf casting (fishing) from the reef is wind assisted on the southern barrier reef where the big trevalli GTs swim.

I could never understand why some tourists would fly to Rarotonga Cook Islands; then fly to enjoy Aitutaki but miss out on the best thing of Aitutaki: THE Aitutaki lagoon. Tourists who'd previously visited Bora Bora, French Polynesia's geographic version of the "almost atoll" of Aitutaki told me that Aitutaki's lagoon was just as nice but that Aitutakians were more friendly and prices were much cheaper than Bora Bora.

photo of Aitutaki lagoon Cook Islands
Check 2024 Aitutaki things to do such as exploring the enchanted Chestnut forest, SCUBA diving, game fishing or climbing Munga Poo. The Polynesian people of Aitutaki are friendly and hospitable. Many still lead a subsistence life style with a small supplementary income from the hospitality industry. When I lived on Aitutaki I saw the collapse of the banana growing industry and development of tourism; income which helps Cook Islands form of Polynesian culture to continue. For example hula dancing still thrives with Aitutaki winning many national cultural competitions at Rarotonga, capital of the independent country of the Cook Islands. My favourite Cook Island's music is the "Drum Dance" Total immersive fun dancing with beautiful seductive hula girls wearing grass skirts, coconut shell bra, flower necklace and flower crowns, while a well muscled Aitutakian drumming team beat out a fantastic rhythm from their authentic pig skin and hand carved wooden drums.


Is it better to stay in Rarotonga or Aitutaki?

There are a lot of things to do in Aitutaki than you can do in a one day visit from staying in Rarotonga. For a start after going on a lagoon curise you'll most likely want another lagoon day trip out to different islets after maybe cycling around Aitutaki or outside the reef going game fishing, SCUBA diving or whale watching. If you don't stay overnight you'll miss out on bars, lazing hotel pool side or impressive, traditional island night feasts followed by joining in hula dancing to the beat of Aitutaki drums.

How to get from Rarotonga to Aitutaki?

Airport transfer from Raro hotels to the Rarotonga International Airport for 8am take off with Cook Islands airline, Air Rarotonga's 45 minute flight time to Aitutaki from Rarotonga.

How to get from New Zealand to Aitutaki?

Most visitors travel from New Zealand on Air New Zealand to Rarotonga and then on from Raro to Aitutaki with Air Rarotonga. Late December Aitutakian diaspora have chartered flights from New Zealand to Aitutaki for Christmas celebrations with their Aitutaki families. Blak fly direct charter flights from New Zealand to Aitutaki.

How Much Does it Cost to Go Aitutaki?

Return flight prices in 2024 from Rarotonga - Aitutaki - Rarotonga are as low as NZ$348 by booking your flights directly with the local regional airline, in advance.

Is Aitutaki worth a Cook Islands holiday side trip?

Hell yeah! It's different and better than Rarotonga. For a start Aitutaki has a huge calm lagoon protected by a barrier reef with 14 uninhabited paradise islets on the reef like pearls on a necklace. It would be better to stay on Aitutaki with a side trip to Rarotonga.

What is the best time of year to visit Aitutaki?

If you don't like humidity the best tourist season months are April to October when the cool southeast trade wind blows. My favourite month is November when build up to the Green Season starts. Calm winds make the lagoon surface like a mirror to billowing sunset coloured clouds. Water in the lagoon becomes extra clear. Humidity makes it perfect for diving in or outside the lagoon or being in your hotel swimming pool. Mangoes are in season November to March.

Aitutaki Cook Islands Website Author

Site authored and published by Ben Grummels, SEO expert in Perth, who still thinks of Aitutaki as home. Ben is also the publisher of other best beach holiday travel destinations, written by Ben and other dedicated, award winning photo journalists and travel writers. Contact Best Beach Holidays to submit your Aitutaki Island beach holiday review. Kia Manuia (best wishes) for 2024.