Glad to be back
My wife and I first stayed at Etu Moana about a year ago, and we were itching to get back. We returned last week and loved it. It's almost impossible to pin down what makes this resort so special for us, but heres an attempt.
The physical setting and the high standard of accommodation are major drawcards. The place is designed with huge flair, and the cabins are extremely comfortable and well appointed. What really makes the difference for us is the laid back but personal attention from the owners Joanne and Jim and their staff.
I hesitate to call it service, as it seems to flow naturally from their desire to share their happy life with guests.
I think also that they are great value for money, considering what else is available in the Cook Islands, and specifically on Aitutaki. Price wise they stack up extremely well against other high end resorts on the island.
I was impressed by Joanne and Jim's refusal to book the place out to the 'Survivor" team, who generally took over Aitutaki for months.
We are already planning next year's return. By then the 'Survivor" crew, and all of the hassles they brought, will be distant memories
Wow, it couldn't have been better!
All of what you hear about Etu Moana in Aitutaki is true! It was fabulous and it couldn't have been better! Even having the Survivor crews as well as our fair share of rain showers, didn't dampen our exuberance and joy in staying on this beautiful island and in these exquisite villas. Words will not suffice, I've attached pictures... they speak for themselves. Thank you Jim and Joanne, and the girls... I feel like part of your family now. Catherine
Etu Moana = Perfection
We were a little nervous about being disappointed with Etu Moana since we had our sights set so high. We certainly were not disappointed!
Etu Moana sits on a beautiful stretch of beach that is ideal for those looking for an active trip of snorkeling, bicycling, kayaking and also ideal for those who want a relaxing trip of laying on a beach lounger, reading a book or hanging by the pool. The water directly in front of the property has some nice coral for snorkeling and has stunning views.
The villas are beautiful and well planned. They include a nice big comfortable bed, two daybeds (one inside, one on the veranda), private outside showers that are perfect for rinsing off after a snorkel and luxurious inside bathrooms. The kitchen area is very nice and the purified water on tap is a big plus. The villas come with tv that has a news channel and a classic movie channel. But they also have a dvd player and the office is well-stocked with the latest movies in case you hit a rare rainy stretch. The lighting in the villas is especially nice with many settings and dimmers. The villas all have A/C in case it gets too hot. It also has nice little touches like a faucet to rinse sandy feet off before you go up onto your veranda and built-in bookshelves by the bed. The verandas are large and all have beautiful ocean views. The construction is impeccable with every screen, door and shutter a perfect fit and the villas are made with beautiful materials.
The property has a sparkling blue central pool that's perfect for socializing, although we found that many times we were the only ones using it. They also have a fully stocked honesty bar/refrigerator with liquor, wine, beer and soda (and not at high resort prices!) They also serve the yummy continental breakfast by the pool every morning that includes granola, yogurt, scones, toast, fresh tropical fruit, coffee, tea and juice.
They have bicycles and kayaks free to use, as well as having scooters available to rent (highly recommended on Aitutaki). Also available are umbrellas, mosquito coils for the veranda and flashlights (for walking/bicycling to dinner). They are also available to book almost any type of lagoon trip, island night, dinner reservation or island tour that you might want.
Saving the best for last, the owners Jim and Jo-Anne, as well as Lovey, Terresa, Mere and the rest of the staff are amazing. We have never stayed at a place that is so friendly, helpful and caring as at Etu Moana. Even though we got to spend 8 wonderful days there, it was difficult to leave. We will always remember how perfect they made our honeymoon and plan to return someday. If you are lucky enough to book a villa there (and any villa is great) consider yourself lucky as you will no doubt be thrilled with this perfect little place.
-Sean and Lauren
What a wonderful place
I had read rave reviews of Etu Moana on this site. They were not wrong. Etu Moana is a wonderful place run by great hospitable hosts who would do anything to make your stay the best ever.
It was lovely to have breakfast by the pool each morning served by beautiful local girls; we hired motor scooters and explored the island and whenever there was a problem (eg. bike breaking down) it turned out to be no problem for us as our hosts were able to deal with it all.
The villas are beautiful and the views and ambience are just wonderful.
Will we try to get back? My word. It was worth every cent.
Etu Moana was the perfect honeymoon location!
Etu Moana was fantastic! We stayed in the Beachfront Bungalow 1 for 5 nights and loved every second of it. Jim and Jo-Anne (the owners) paid such attention to detail and really made the bungalows as perfect as they possibly could be. From the beautiful marble bathroom, to the gorgeous wood floors, to the amazing comfortable seat on the front deck (that we napped on every day), we could not have asked for anything better. Thank you so much to Jo-Anne, Jim and Lovey for making our stay perfect!
Last nearly undisturbed paradise - Aitutaki, CI
I have to say that I chose Aitutaki, Cook Islands over other places solely due to the photos and detailed comments that have been posted online, particularly on Tripadvisor.com. So, thanks to everyone that takes the time to post their experiences, it is much more helpful than reviewing marketing information from resorts and such.
That said, we were in Aitutaki for a week. It was an interesting trip from Rarotonga to Aitutaki in a small propellered airplane, they do their best on Air Rarotonga to make you feel relaxed in such a cramped space. We flew into Rarotonga on Air New Zealand, a very nice airline. The Rarotongan airport is especially dated, which is to be expected and gives you the feeling that your far away from wherever you came from. If you have a long wait time, but don't want to travel too far from the airport, you can take a short walk just to your right (I was not in touch with my directions at the time) if you are facing the street from the airport. There is a tiny bar/restaurant that served decent food on the same side of the road the airport is on, I forget the name but it is just right past the airport. I also suggest taking an umbrella with you during the rainy winter months (starting in May) as you may get caught in the rain while walking. Also, once you check in for your flight back home and go through the gates, they have pretty decent shops to buy last minute souvenirs for friends/family.
We arrived at Aitutaki airport, quaint and perfect for pictures in front of their welcome sign. We were greeted by Lovey, who greets/picks up everyone for Etu Moana. She also gets breakfast together in the morning with the help of another lady and she is very sweet. She also helped out with our wedding that was on the beach. When we arrived at Etu Moana (I won't spoil it, but they give you a little treat), we were enamored with how cozy, nice and new everything was (compared to other places we saw on the island). The hosts do their best to make everyone feel special and welcome, they even let us use their extra computer in the office (for a very, very small fee). Our villa, while not immediately on the beach but near beachfront, was better than expected. Everything was nice, new and clean. The view of the ocean from Villa 4 was a blocked a bit by a tree that we really wanted to cut down when the sun was setting (awesome and beautiful sunsets, great for photos). We booked a little late so we were unable to get the villa for the amount of time we were there. Either way, it was the same as all the others inside. There was an outdoor shower, but too much foliage around ours to really want to use it, but it was nice to have and we dryed our bathing suits out there. If you call to ask for something, they bring it for you nearly immediately. The service is impeccable, really!
Anyway, before I spend too much time on here and get too detailed, I will run down a list of things to do & some cautionary advice.
First, go to Samade on the Beach. They have a great host for their Island Night and the place has probably the best evening atmosphere than any place on the island.
Next, don't expect that dinners will be cheap even though the NZD is not as strong as the USD. Every restaurant we went to makes up for it in pricing and so the meal costs as much as it would anyplace else, really.
Also, we were concerned about tipping, but no one seemed to mention it and we even tried to pay attention to see if anyone else did. Apparently, it is offensive (or maybe not customary) to Aitutakians (or maybe Cook Islanders) to tip. But, I guess if the service was great and you feel very strongly about it, then do so at your discretion.
Next, if you have never driven a motorcycle or scooter...don't start in Aitutaki. Yes, they have them to rent and it's quite enticing, but unless you know how to drive one then don't get on one. We experienced (right before we left) this poor woman who just flew in for her honeymoon and had a wreck on one the first day she was there. It was raining and most roads are paved, but there are down pours and you can easily lose it on a scooter. I almost did on a bicycle! That said, we used the complimentary bicycles to drive around and go into town. It's a bit far in the humidity and you definitely have to be in shape (bring water), but it's a lot of fun.
Go kayaking! Kayaks are complimentary at Etu Moana and it is so much fun to go out into the lagoon and kayak all the way to the reef, where the waves crash. You see every type of fish, it's like an aquarium. If he is not too busy, Jim will sometimes take guests down to Samade on the Beach w/the kayaks so that you can kayak to each motu. We did that & it's highly recommended. Although, don't go too far or you will find yourself too tired to get back (again, bring water!).
We went to dinner at Pacific Resort and we were disappointed. First, I thought we just chose the wrong thing to get, so maybe you should ask what they recommend...but I don't think the server spoke English as she barely said a word to us. The food that we had, a pasta and a meat (non-fish) dish, was not appetizing at all. That was probably the most disappointing experience on the island. They definitely did not live up to their "high-end" hype. Although, maybe fish (an island specialty) would've been a better choice.
Next, for nearly every lunch we went to Are Tamanu (sp?). It's right down the street from Etu Moana and we were never disappointed with the food. They have great "comfort" food at a good price. Also, try the local beer too...it was good.
Another very good place to eat is the cafe right next to Etu Moana. The chef grows everything she makes in her garden and the food is great. It's BYOB, so make sure to check out a bottle of wine from Etu Moana for dinner.
Last but not least (by any means), you have to eat at Cafe Tapuna. It really is the best. They made our wedding dinner and it was so good, we went there the night before we left. The food is fabulous. I had this great ika mata (sp?) dish in a coconut. Their fresh tuna dish was great and the other dish my husband had was good too.
These were the only restaurants that we went to during our stay, any others I haven't mentioned were either not recommended or when we rode by, we didn't really want to eat food from there.
We did take one cruise, it is the one recommended by Etu Moana, Kia Orana. It was a great cruise and we went to every motu that you would want to go to. Make sure you bring snorkel gear and some spf though...a bottle of water is good too! You are out on the boat for quite a while. The giant clams were probably the most interesting things to look at in the water.
Overall, the people are wonderful...most everyone will wave hello at you. Enjoy your time and I hope this post has been useful to at least one person!
Stop reading this and go!
Yes, everything you've read below is spot-on.
I can add that the place is booking up far in advance, thanks in part to all the endorsements here.
Aitutaki is a spectacular place, and Etu Moana makes it even more special. All villas have a water view, so don't sweat it even if the beachfront units aren't available. All are new construction, with high quality materials and fixtures imported from New Zealand. This is a high-end property with everything you'll need except for a restaurant. But there are plenty of dining options on the island, and Etu Moana will start you off with a tropical breakfast.
I am posting a pic of a sunset taken from Etu Moana's beach. Yes, it is real!
Stop reading this and just go!
We have just returned from a week in Rarotonga - where we were very fortunate to stay at the Etu Moana Resort on Aitutaki. We can not say enough good things about this place. We were greeted at the airport by Lovey one of the staff and again welcomed on our arrival by Jo-Anne, one of the owners. Jo-Anne(Canadian) and Jim(Dutch) Brittijn are the most warm, hospitable hosts we have ever met. Nothing was too much trouble during our stay and this extended to everybody staying at this fantastic resort. The owners have researched well and understand fully what people want from a holiday.
This new boutique resort has eight modern Polynesian style villas - each tastefully designed,crafted and built by the owners - all with amazing views over the lagoon and out to the ocean. There is an excellent complimentary tropical breakfast - fruits, yoghurts, bread selections & cereals, served beside the large swimming pool each morning with the best Atui coffee - it also has an honesty pool bar for use by guests.
It is hard to believe that the luxuriant tropical gardens are only a couple of years old - everything seems to grow amazingly well here.
The owners have thought of everything - king sized comfortable beds - cd player - satellite Tv (not that we watched it) - luxurious marble bathroom and outside garden shower - fully equipped kitchen which meant we could prepare a meal or two if we wished. Villas were serviced each day with plenty of fresh towels. toiletries and coffee/tea supplies left. Snorkelling gear and kayaks are available and the large covered outside decks were perfect for watching the sunset.
The staff are very happy to make suggestions and organise trips /transport- we rented scooters to go around the island - would recommend Tupuna restaurant & Air Rarotongas lagoon cruise and BBQ. We have stayed in many places both luxury and modest - Etu Moana is the first we have given 10/10.
Once word gets around we believe this will be one of the most popular places to stay in the Pacific!
While popular with honeymooners - we would recommend it to anyone who wants a special, memorable holiday in idyllic surrounds. You may have to book in advance but it is well worth it.
PS The owners even came to see us off at the airport!
Why did we leave?
Aitutaki is great but Etu Moana is even better......
The best holliday we ever had thanks to Jim and Jo-Anne and their staff.
If you plan to stay in Aitutaki check the lagoon cruise with Kia Orana and go deepsee fishing even the lagoon fishing with Cathy is great!
Rent a scooter (available at the resort) and explore the island, the people are very friendly and hospitable. It was a long trip for us to go to Aitutaki but is was more dan worth it.
We are back now for a week but we can't wait to go back.