Exploring Aitutaki Atoll in the Cook Islands – Day 1 of 5

Aitutaki is one of the 15 major islands of the Cook Islands. An island is called a mutu.  Two flights are needed to reach it from New Zealand. A connecting flight in the Rarotonga International Airport.

Aitutaki Map
Map of Aitutaki from Google Maps.


The Flight

A 3-hr and 50-min flight from Auckland to Rarotonga. Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia operates in this region. Cleared from the friendly immigration officers in Rarotonga. Had a sandwich for lunch.  Not much of food selection in this humble airport but enough to satisfy the hunger. Tuna sandwich at $10 and lemongrass juice at $6.

Then another 50-minute flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. Air Rarotonga operates the flight exclusively with a propeller type plane called Embraer EMB110P1 ‘Bandeirante’. You’ll expect it to be a noisy flight.  A noise cancelling headphone can reduce it. Oh, and the turbulence midair is normal.


Embraer EMB110P1 ‘Bandeirante’.
Embraer EMB110P1 ‘Bandeirante’, one of the 3 fleets that Air Rarotonga is operation in the Cook Islands


The inside of Embraer EMB110P1 ‘Bandeirante’. It has a capacity of 15 passengers.
The inside of Embraer EMB110P1 ‘Bandeirante’. It has a capacity of 15 passengers.


Aitutaki Airport
Aitutaki Airport


The Timeline

Cook Islands is 23 hours behind New Zealand.  It will be 22 hours when the Daylight Saving is in effect.  This is literally going back in time.  We left Auckland on a Monday then we arrived in the Cook Islands on Sunday.


The Currency

The Cook Islands is using the same currency as New Zealand. It’s better to transact in cash as there are 3% surcharges when using credit cards.



The island of Aitutaki is an atoll.  This is one of the mutus of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.  Aerial view displays the beauty of the triangle-shaped island.  Even more stunning is the contrast of the white sand and the turquoise water.

We’ve reached the island at 3:50PM. As a customary island greeting is an “Ei”, a flower garland given and worn by the guests upon arrival.  Then off to the Paradise Cove Lodges in an old van to check-in.


“Ei” is the traditional flower garland given to the guests in Aitutaki
“Ei” is the traditional flower garland given to the guests in Aitutaki


The Accommodation

We booked a garden view good for 4 people Paradise Cove Lodges. Ours seems to have a sea-view. It was booked through Agoda 6 months ago. For 5 nights at NZD1,075 total. That’s NZD54.75 per person per night. This comes with daily breakfast and return airport transfers.

The room is equipped with 2 single beds and 1 queen bed adorned with bold floral prints. One ceiling fan and one wall fan. A fully equipped kitchen with cutleries, cooking wares, fridge and electric stove. The question is where to get the ingredients to cook.  That is still to be discovered.


Paradise Cove Lodges Hut
Paradise Cove Lodges Garden Bungalow. This can house 4 adults.


Bold floral prints are typical for Aitutaki accommodation and even the rest of the Pacific Islands.
Bold floral prints are typical for Aitutaki accommodation and even the rest of the Pacific Islands.

One thing so basic that’s missing is water! It is not provided in the rooms. One thing the Lodge needs to consider as the the thermometer is reaching above 28 degrees Celsius!


The Beach

The white powdery beach is few steps away from the hut.  Gentle and calm is the water on the beach side. Big and crashing waves at the end of the atoll quite a distance away. Clear water as one can see the bottom-dwelling sea cucumbers, the corals and the schools of fish. In areas where the beach is not combed, there are lots of corals scattered by the beach.

Aitutaki Beach northward from Paradise Cove Lodges
Aitutaki Beach northward from Paradise Cove Lodges



The resort has its resto-bar that opens between 5pm to 7pm. Bring in some snacks on your flight to avoid starvation as there is no dairy nearby. The restaurant is open on specific times only.

We waded and swam in front of the resort while waiting for the resto-bar to open. The sun is up and the water is warm. Just what we need as the waters in NZ is cold.  We ordered one whole fried white snapper each at $28 and a litre of water at $6. The small snapper is quite pricey.

The evening draws near as the sun sets at 7:30. It’s another adjustment as NZ sunset is around 9PM. And the island seems to have fallen asleep as early as 8PM. And we had decided to walk the stretch of the beach under the light of the stars. Some coconut crabs crawling on the beach to spawn. The moon is full but only arisen at 10pm.

We reached the Tamanu Beach Resort which is having an Island Buffet BBQ.  Aw, we didn’t know.  If only we have known, we should have taken our dinner there.

And so that concludes our first day in the island.

This will be a 5-day vacation in Aitutaki and 1 day in Rarotonga.

Next post will be the Aiutataki Lagoon Cruise, exploring all the mutus in the island.  The best this island has to offer.



The Expenses for the Day

Take note that the airfare, land fare, travel insurance and accommodation is included in the breakdown.

Aitutaki Day 1 Expenditure
Aitutaki Day 1 Expenditure


Related Links

Day 2 –  Seven Wonders of Paradise – Aitutaki Day 2 of 5