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A Week Unwinding In Aitutaki

By The Bondi Travel Bug on August 19, 2016 in Other

Photo: Bondi Travel Bug

Photo: Bondi Travel Bug

I’ve been travelling the world now for over 40 years and recently had a day in Aitutaki, Cook Islands that I can only describe as one of my best.

The Cook Islands is an archipelago of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and American Samoa. There are 15 major islands with a total land area of just 240 square kilometres.

The two most renowned and popular tourist islands are Rarotonga, which I wrote about last month, and Aitutaki.

It takes approximately 6 hours to fly to Rarotonga from Sydney, and a 50-minute flight from there will get you to Aitutaki. The 45-kilometre circumference lagoon that surrounds Aitutaki with its spectacular turquoise colours can be seen clearly from the air and its first sighting will leave you with a lasting memory.

At just 18.05 square kilometres in size, and with a population of approximately 2,000 permanent residents, Aitutaki Island is best described as ‘intimate’. Whether you’re just walking around, cycling or driving, the atmosphere here is like that of a big, friendly extended family. A smile and a wave is second nature to the amiable locals.

While in Aitutaki I was fortunate to stay at two very different but equally gorgeous resorts. The first was a three-night stay at the Pacific Resort, located on the west side of the island. When you enter the reception area of the Pacific, you can look down and over part of the renowned Aitutaki lagoon that envelops the resort, and you immediately know you’ve arrived somewhere very special.

A large chunk of my three nights at the Pacific was spent on a recliner beach bed strategically placed outside my sublime luxury beach villa.

The rest of my time was spent lounging by the infinity pool, kayaking, stand-up paddling, snorkelling, and gorging on an amazing array of delicious food served in the restaurant overlooking the lagoon or the very cool bar by the pool.

The only time I ventured out of the Pacific’s landscaped confines was in the afternoon to go riding around the island on the resort’s complimentary pushbikes. The island is flat and the other road users are very considerate, which makes cycling a real pleasure. The only issues I encountered were the odd goat meandering across the road or a horny rooster aggressively chasing a bewildered chicken – I now know why the chicken crossed the road!

My priority was ensuring I was always back at the resort for sunset cocktails and to witness the remarkable colours of the lagoon when combined with Aitutaki’s dazzling sunsets.

My next port of call in Aitutaki was a four-night stay at the island’s luxury adults only Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa. This magnificent resort is located on its own private island that is accessed by a very short ferry ride – approximately 90 seconds short!

It’s hard to describe this place without going into superlative overload, but stunning, spectacular, paradise, utopia, heavenly, captivating and nirvana all seem quite apt. The coconut palm trimmed shoreline frames the indescribable colours of the world’s most beautiful lagoon for as far as the eye can see.

My first impressions of the island were something like an adult version of the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the children first sighted all the candy. My eyes were popping out of my head.
Once settled into my exquisite overwater bungalow, I ventured out to the watersports area and launched myself onto a stand-up paddleboard, then later I baptised a double kayak with my travel partner and we paddled our way around the lagoon.

While there’s a plethora of activities to do in Aitutaki, there is only one I would recommend very highly, and that is the full day lagoon tour. You get to snorkel in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon where you discover huge clams, blue starfish, manta rays, turtles, and an abundance of tropical fish. You also you get to visit uninhabited islands including One Foot Island, with its lush native flora and fauna, and pass by beaches that are footprint free with water that only a heavily retouched glossy brochure could hope to reproduce. The island tour experience will no doubt be one of your best days.

Aere ra and meitaki – goodbye and thank you!

Vicki Gilden at Rose Bay Travel (02) 9371 8166