A Jewel in The Crown
My wife and I have recently returned from 4 nights at Aitutaki Lagoon resort. We were greeted by Flaura at the airport with a lovely fragrant lei. After a short drive and even shorter boat ride we arrived at our destination to a conch blowing staff member with an island welcome and the lovely surprise of having our bungalow upgraded from a garden to a beachfront bungalow. The staff were very efficient with our checking in and our bungalow had a lovely outlook looking out over the lagoon. The interior of the bungalow was a bit tired in the kitchen and bathroom areas but the bedroom was very nice and the king size bed very comfortable. Every evening our bed was turned down, a floral arrangement and newsletter was left on the pillows and our bedside lamps turned on which gave our bungalow a very welcoming feel when we returned from our evening activities.
The “fresh fruit” breakfasts were great and included cereal, fruit, pancakes, croissants and toast. These are complimentary and served in the breakfast restaurant which is very spacious and well appointed in an island style and has an unenclosed outlook to the gardens and lagoon. The lunch and dinner meals are served in The Flying Boat restaurant which also has an island feel about it and even better unenclosed views of the beautiful lagoon. The a la carte meals served here were very good but we found the umu and barbeque meals were only so, so. The staff are all very friendly and helpful – in destinations like this you just have to get used to “island time” or else you may get a bit frustrated. Candice was particularly helpful and she was very good with the children.
Aitutaki Lagoon Resort has the best outlook in the whole island with emerald blue waters and lush green motus in the distance. Quite a few of the other resorts are on the other side of the island and their view is not as nice as Aitutaki Lagoon Resorts view. We did a tour of Aitutaki by scooter and stopped at the Pacific Resort to check it out. The woman at reception was not keen for us to look around and pretty unfriendly but in the end said we could check out the area around the pool. Consequently we didn’t stay long and left more confident that ATR was the best resort there and sure we would never return – to look or stay.
We did a Lagoon cruise with Bishops Cruises. When at Aitutaki a lagoon cruise is a must and Bishops’ Capt. Peaches and Capt. Cook did an excellent job. The lagoon and its surrounds are breathtaking and the waters a beautiful turquoise colour. While on the cruise we saw a turtle and giant clams while snorkeling. We stopped at One Foot island for lunch and had our passports stamped in the Post Office.
We were very sorry to leave Aitutaki Lagoon Resort but we will be back!
Thank you for reading our review. We are a couple in our early 20's. We got married at The Rarotongan Resort and Spa and stayed at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa for 7 nights as part of our Honeymoon.
We also stayed at Muri Beachcomber and Muri Beach Club. We were in the Cook Islands for a month. We LOVED Aitutaki.
We will keep the writing brief as 'a picture tells a thousand words',
but we have outlined some Great and Not So Great features below:
- The Overwater Bungalow was beautiful and the outdoor showers were fun.
- The Resort is very Secluded and quiet, on its own its own Island - perfect for honeymooners
- The Day Spa (with Regina) we got a Coconut Scrub, Salt Scrub and Massages and as i am a beauty therapist i can say the standard is very high. There is also a sauna and private spa located in the day spa
- TEKING CRUISE to outer islands, was the highligh of our trip! We visited Honeymoon Island, Maina and OneFoot and also snorkelled with giant Clams and got to hold turtles!
- The Manager was very friendly and was always around checking everyone was happy
- The housekeeping staff were very thorough and friendly
- The Bungalow has a cd and dvd player as well as movie channels.
- Breakfast buffet has a good variety and very tasty and fresh bakery
NOT SO GREAT:
- The food was expensive for what you got and the worst of our whole holiday
- The bus to town cost $30 and was only a 5-10min trip
- If you were not back at the resort before 10pm you had to pay $100 for the boat to pick you up, and there was no boat whatsoever after midnight. This was very limiting if you are wanting to go to dinner at other resorts.
- If you dont enjoy flying, the flight may be a little scary as the plane is very small.
- We were expecting the snorkelling to be better, but we actually found the snorkelling better on Rarotonga.
Overall: We highly recommend the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa for a VERY relaxing, secluded and romantic holiday. But if you go its definately worth getting an Overwater Bungalow! It will make your trip unforgettable.
Paradise on Earth
We stayed 3 nights during our 2 week holiday. We wished we could have stayed longer. This place is definitely "Paradise on Earth". We stayed in an overwater bungalow which you must do! The rooms are so superior decorated in Island style, champagne and fruits welcome you on your arrival. We stayed for 3 nights which meant we qualified for the Island Affair package, which gives each couple a free sauna and massage, his and hers island pereous (sarongs), a black pearl and a free days car hire, we hired the litte red MX5 sports car. The massage was very nice and would definitely recommend it. I am a beauty & spa therapist so was very interested in the spa facilities. The only downfall was the cleanliness of the treatment room was below average and I was quite surprised at this. The overwater bungalows are divine, we sunbathed on our deck and when we got too hot we jumped directly off the deck into the beautiful clear lagoon below to cool off. We did a lot of snorkeling around our own bungalow as the fish there were in abundance, with a lot of variety and even a ray glided past our room! You can hand feed the fish they must be so used to it. There is plenty to do if you want to, and if you want to do nothing but relax, sunbathe on your own deck. sip a tropical cocktail, swim and snorkel this is definitelfy the place to be. We hired the red sports car and drove around the whole mainland, and checked out other hotels and I think the overwater bungalows on our own private island was definitely the best place to stay. A lagoon cruise is also a must, we went with Puna of Aitutaki Advenutures on the yellow boat and it was magical, lots of snorkeling, beautiful bbq lunch and lots of Puna's local knowledge, would definitely recommend this lagoon cruise as they visit a lot of motus and you definitely get value for money, they also pick you up & drop you off at your hotel. Out of our 2 week holiday the 3 days at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa was definitely our Highlight. We will be returning next year and will definitely be staying there again, this time for a whole lot longer.
At the airport, I met 3 people Tara, Nic and Mart who were all flying to Rarotonga. This was the leg of my trip which was going to be the highlight I?d felt from the start, flying to the south pacific. On the flight, I sat next to an old Norwegian guy, Torje who was doing a 1 month Round the World trip.
Managed to get only 1 hours kip on the flight I was so excited. Chatted to Torje most of the way. On the flight into the Cook islands, I saw a sight out of the plane window I will never forget, one of the most breath taking views I have ever seen ? as we flew other the island of Aitutaki, it sparkled in the sun surrounded by its lagoon and desert islands. We had seen nothing but blue sea for a few thousand miles and there was this speck of land sitting in the island looking like Paradise! We landed at 7.30am very tired. As we landed, I looked out of the window and saw a small building and thought that the terminal must be the other side?wrong!, the small building WAS the terminal!, on the other side of the tiny runway was a beautiful interior ? rugged green mountains. As I looked up the runway it was hard to believe that we had just landed a Boeing 747 on it, it was so short! I met up with Tara, Nic and Mart and we were picked up by the hostel that we?d all pre-booked ? Vara?s beach house, on Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga?s best beach! I was put in a room with Mart and Nic and another English girl called Vicky. We all set out to explore this tiny island, we caught the bus into Avarua, the capital - a completely different contrast to Waikiki! ? so quiet! We went for something to eat ? I ordered a chicken burger and about 15 minutes after ordering the waitress came back out to tell me they had no more chicken left. Now I?d read that service was slow but to take 15 minutes for them to realise they had no chicken! Well??
She offered me a Chicken curry burger instead and said I?d be the first person in the Cook islands to have one if I did, so I did. However I was a bit baffled as to why they had chicken for a chicken curry burger and not for a normal chicken burger. We eventually got our food and my chicken burger was delicious!
We then caught the bus back the other way around the island, it only takes 45 minutes to do a complete circle of the island. Back at the hostel, we chilled out on the beach for a bit, as it is right on the hostel doorstep!..Paradise! At night, 5 of us had a few beers outside the room before walking into Avarua to go to Raros but while we were walking we realise that it was about 5 miles!!! And cabs are hard to find on the island and the buses had stopped running!, so he headed back and drunk a few more beers! Me and Mart managed to open up a coconut although we lost all the contents! Then a king sized land crab ran out in front of us! It was huge! Hit the sack late at night!
Was awoken at 6am by the cockerels screaming outside of our window! Got out early to do the Cross Island trek with Vicky. This involved a 12km trek through dense woodland from one side of the island to the other. We started in the north and headed for the ?Needle? ? a huge rock jutting out in the centre of the island which can be seen from almost anywhere on the island. After about 2 hours of climbing over tree roots and rocks, we made it to the base of the needle (known locally as Te Rua Manga). Around the side of the needle is a chain and rope for those mad enough to clamber themselves around further up the needle to a ledge that has a certain death drop either side of it. So, there we were doing just that, one false move and certain death! Scary but fun! We sat on the ledge, just about room for 2 people and had a drink of water to mark our achievement. It had been worth it, the views of the island were spectacular ? dense woodland all around with the distant view of the lagoons surrounding the island. We were 413 metres up.
We then had to slide down on our arses holding the chain and rope to get back down. From there it was another 2 and a half hour trek to the south of the island. We got a little lost on the way as the path was hard to follow but we just followed the river as the guidebook had told us that after the trek, Wigmores waterfall was a welcome relief for all trekkers to cool down in. when we finally reached Wigmores waterfall, we were most disappointed to see nothing but a trickle of water ? not the power shower the guide book had promised. Still, hot and sweaty after our 4 and a half hour trek in pretty hot and humid conditions, we jumped into the pool of water and cooled down, only to be bitten to death my an army of mosquitoes! We hastily left and headed back to the hostel where I decided I?d fallen in love with the Cook Islands and contemplated prolonging my departure. I caught the bus into town and booked myself a flight to Aitutaki and after that a flight to Atiu. In the evening, a load of us caught a taxi into town to go to the Island night at the Staircase nightclub. The night was superb ? locals traditional music and dancing. The men were built and dressed like old Maori warriors. Got chatting to a few locals and they were all very friendly. After getting a taxi back to the hostel, we sat up with a few more beers before passing out!
In the morning, me and Mart played golf on the strangest course I?ve ever played! It was a 9 hole course but you could play 18 holes by changing which tee-off you use and which green you hit it to. Basically it was one huge field with 18 tee-off points around it and 9 greens!, all the fairways shared one piece of grass! Halfway down the first, we weren?t sure which green we were supposed to be aiming at until we asked the only other golfer on the course. The fifth hole had a green that measured about 5ft by 5ft! For 9 holes, it was par 35, I managed to hit 52 with 2 solid pars!
On the way back to the hostel, we had the same bus driver we had every day who said the same stuff ?don?t get lost in my big city? and ?welcome to the big smoke?, or ?if you need the air conditioning on, just open the window?....funny at first but boring the 50th time!
After that, me and Vicky went to the local hire car garage and went to hire out this old MG we?d passed a couple of times on the bus. It cost $35 for 24 hours, around ?5 each! It was a poser?s dream...but one problem was that the brakes hardly worked so we had to keep it below 30km all the way around the island. Although it was fun to drive and pose in, there wasn?t really anywhere we could go, as there is only one road around the island! But we raised a fair few eyebrows as we shouted out at friends as we passed them walking along. It was a little scary going downhill though as with my foot to the floor and the handbrake on full, we still kept moving!
In the evening, we all went to another Island night, this time at Banana court. I got pretty beered up , chatting to locals at the bar most of the night. They once again had the traditional dancing and they also had the world champion ?fire dancer? which was pretty spectacular. At around 1.30am it all went abit wrong. Martin got up to go for a *** and stumbled into this Maori guy who turned around and punched him. Being a bit lashed, I got pissed off and had a row with this huge guy and his mates and being the prick I am when i'm pissed tried to take them all on...luckily for me, the others all pushed me off and it all calmed down. Outside waiting for a cab, it pissed it down and we got absolutely soaked!
Me and Vicky cruised around in the MG for a few hours in the morning, stopping at the weekly market in Avarua. Bought a necklace and a wooden handmade carving of Tangaroa, the God of fertility. After, I dropped the car off I chatted to the guy who owned the garage as he was from Sheffield. I then went back and packed my stuff for my trip to Aitutaki. I wasn?t sure how I was going to get to the airport, I contemplated walking(about ? hour from town) but as luck would have it, I bumped into the guy from Sheffield who gave me a lift there, bit of a result!
After checking in(which too all of about 1 minute as 1) I was travelling light and 2) the plane was tiny!), I laid down on a bench waiting for my departure call, when I wrote this in my journal :
?Life just doesn?t get any better than this. I?m sitting, actually laying on a bench in the blazing sun, listening to my walkman(all the tunes recorded at home whilst imagining what the Cook islands would be like and now its a reality and its better than imagined!) at Rarotonga airport waiting for a flight to take me to the 3rd best beach lagoon on planet earth! This feels like proper backpacking-just hitched a lift to the airport, been chatting to complete strangers for ages. I?m leaving friends behind who about 100 hours ago were complete strangers! Travelling, freedom ? its ***ing excellent-especially when you?re in paradise!?
The view from the plane was amazing-leaving Rarotonga and arriving at Aitutaki. American girl from Vara?s, Kayla was on the flight too. Got to the airport, which was just a sand runway and a hut! ? was picked up by Tom and transferred to his ?Cottage?. Tom himself seems very laid back. Everywhere seems very quiet on the island. The heavens then opened and it didn?t stop raining all night but it meant no one at the cottage was going out so it gave me a chance to meet my found friends. We played pool for a few hours. Sat about chatting to Roy(who looked like Ray Winstone!). Paid Tom $15 to hire a moped for the next day. Later once the rain stopped, me and Kayla walked up the road to Ralphies bar. Had a few beers, a few bought for me by the locals in there who were well on the ***. They all seemed more friendlier than Rorotonga. Was chatting to one guy called ?Retire?, I wondered if this came from the Lonely planets theory that many locals are named after events that happen in the family at the time of birth)i.e.- someone in the family had retired).Finally went back to Toms around 1am.
Went to Church in the morning as I had been told back on Rarotonga to go to hear the local women sing. I?m not a great fan of church but I couldn?t help but be blown away by the power in there voices, it was truly amazing! I then rode my moped round to the Aitutaki lagoon resort with Kayla on the back......and we had found Paradise! Palm trees overhanging a white beach with a few miles of crystal clear lagoon in front of us! I found myself a hammock and laid in it as relaxed as I possibly could be for about 4 hours! Relaxing there, home seemed a million miles away....although 10,000 miles was still a far way! After dragging myself from the hammock, we went back to Toms and met up with a group of 3 English guys and a Dutch guy. We all went out to the Crusher bar, a little further on from Ralphies. I wasn?t in the mood for drinking so I just had a vodka. They turned out to be a bunch of complete dicks and Kayla?s brash accent was starting to seriously do my head in so I made my excuses and headed back.
By the time I awoke, Kayla had checked out to another hostel which was a bit of a result as when I tried to sleep last night, all I could hear was her voice by the time she got in! I got picked up at around 8am for a lagoon tour I?d booked previously on Rarotonga. On the boat, I sat down next to a couple of ex-pats, Les and Judy. We stopped halfway in the lagoon for a snorkel. I had never really been snorkelling before in my life, only sticking my head under the water whilst in the bath using my brothers snorkel and mask when I was about 8! So, it was no surprise I was shocked the moment I first put my head under the water....I had just been introduced to a completely different world!....coral and marine life everywhere! The boat then moved on to Moturakau, a tiny island (or Motu as they are know locally). This is the island where the Channel 4 Television series was filmed and there are still remains of there time there, part of a shelter they built. After that it was onto Tapuaetai, better known as One Foot Island, the perfect paradise tropical Island! All the holiday brochure snaps of the Cook Islands are taken from this Island as it is just perfect!...soft white sand, crystal clear water that doesn?t seem to ever reach higher then waist height, palm trees and believe it or not but they have a wooden hut there selling cold beers.....so not to be rude, I had to indulge! If I had known, I could?ve taken my passport and received a special One Foot Island stamp! It took me about 10 minutes to walk the whole Island if that! It was a gorgeous day and I laid on the beach for half hour. Back on the boat, we had fresh fish and salad cooked, which was absolutely gorgeous! So , I went up for a 2nd portion! I sat chatting to Len and Judy the whole trip and they invited to stay theirs when I got to Sydney as they lived about an hour west of the city, so I duly took their number. By the time the boat pulled back into Aitutaki, I was pretty burnt from being in the blazing sun all day but it had been a great day out! Back at the hostel, it all seemed pretty quiet, a few people had left leaving only 6 of us still staying there so I sat in my room alone with the cockroaches, my broken fan and the humidity! For the first time since I left home, I felt slightly lonely....but I didn?t let it get me down as I knew there?d be a high around the corner.....and what?s more I?d just been cruising one of the worlds best lagoons! At night, a huge storm came in a there was spectacular thunder and lightning outside.
Woke up early and walked to Mount Maungpu to climb it at a height of 113 meters, the highest point on the island. Legend has it, that it was stolen from Rarotonga! It was very hot and humid climbing up it but was worth the effort as it gave great views across the island and of the waves crashing against the reefs crating the lagoon in the distance. I then drove my moped round again to the Lagoon resort beach, this time on my own and chilled out in a hammock for several hours enjoying life. After that I took the moped around the island, everywhere along the roads were the giant land crabs which the Cooks are known for. It was a joy to ride past a local school where the kids came running out to me and stopped me so they could chat and play with my blond hair! Later, back at the hostel, I sat down and had a beer with a Swedish couple staying there. I later heard screams coming fm their room and so upon investigation found 4 huge cockroaches running around their room floor. I then went down to see the Norwegian couple I met some time before and had a beer sitting in their apartment. Finally headed back in the rain back to Toms place and a night sleep.
Got a ride fairly early to the airport(or should I say sand track!....flew back to Rarotonga arriving a fair bit late but the check in desk had been informed I had a flight connection and waited open for me(where on earth would that happen!) and within 10 minutes I was back on a flight...this time to Atiu. This plane was a tiny propeller plane with only 15 passengers. On the way we flew over Takautea, another fantastic view. On the flight, sitting at the front, I could see the whole cockpit, one pilot was having a little nap while the other ate his packed lunch. We arrived at the smallest airport Iýve ever seen and likely to ever see. It was more or less a wooden hut, the runway just a stretch of sand. I was greeted on arrival by the German who had arranged for me to stay at a locals house as all 23 tourist beds on the island were taken. I was driven on the back of a truck to my home for the next 24 hours. The house was owned by an English guy, Marshall who had married a Maori lady(who was away on Rarotonga whilst I visited). They had 3 kids, James(14), Sarah(15) and Avril(17). On arrival I was given a drink and told to settle in. They lent me Jamesý bike so I could explore the island so with a map in hand, off I went. I rode to a deserted beach , or so I thought until I bumped into an old English man, named Robert in his 60ýs. I sat and chatted to him for a while, he was on a round the world trip too. It turned out he was going to be on the same cave tour I was booked on later that day. On my way back to the house, I got completely lost and was in danger of not being back in time for the tour!....I had to peddle twice as fast to finally get home in time and was absolutely soaked with sweat so had an ice cold shower before being picked up for the tour. The tour is actually run by the family I was staying with, James and Avril done the tour. We went deep into caves in the centre of the island. We had a swim in a pool in one of the caves which was freezing cold but very refreshing too! Walking back through the thick woodland, we had to be careful not to cut ourselves on the makatea which is dried coral on the land which used to be under the water many years ago and formed part of the reef. We were then dropped off at Papa Sams (and the boys) Tumunu. A tumunu is an old traditional meeting place where locals used to drink an alcoholic drink from a coconut tree stump. They sing songs and prayed and got generally merry. It was banned by the missionaries but it is still allowed on Atiu. We were privileged to be invited. We all had to sit in a circle and waited in turn for the wooden cup to come around for us to take our drink. We all had to introduce ourselves and Sam and his boys played music and said prayers. The drink tasted like a strong wine. After 12 shots, we were picked up and I was driven back to the house where I was cooked mince for dinner and after I sat up chatting to Marshall about island life and his life ion England, a very interesting and cultural day, one of the best so far travelling!
I woke up early to find toast waiting for me on the table. I borrowed Jamesý bike again to ride around the island. This time I went up the west, and found the spot where Captain Cook was supposed to have come ashore. I then found a secluded beach and sat on it for an hour. Back at the house, I got my stuff together and said my goodbyes and got a ride to the airstrip and caught my flight back to Rarotonga. I was picked up by Varaýs daughter who checked me into the hostel. As I checked into my new room, I found Martine from Hawaii inside so I sat and chatted to her for abit about the rest of her time in Hawaii. Then I found Tara, Martin and Nic. A few people from before I went away had left and the atmosphere wasnýt quite as good as before. I then chilled out for abit, opened up my backpack as Iýd left it at Varaýs while I went away to the other islands so I could travel light, only to find Iýd out a wet pair of swim shorts in it before I left and theyýd made everything mouldy! So I had to wash the whole backpack! While it was doing I wrote 9 postcards Iýd bought before whilst having a few beers. Had an early night.
Went into town early to post my postcards before heading back to Muri lagoon to read up my New Zealand Lonely Planet guide. Once the sun went in, I went in and cooked beans on toast for the 2nd time that day. Later on, a load of us sat around playing ***head and snakes and ladders. Everyone else was casually drinking but I ended up getting hammered and donýt remember saying goodbye to everyone.
I had to be woken at around 4am as I was fast asleep by everyone in the room as my alarm clock had woken all them up and not me! I think I was still hammered and as I packed my bag, I accidentally stole a girls towel (still, no one did like her much!) that I thought was mine.