The blue Lagoon
Aitutaki is famous about its turquoise-blue lagoon. And this lagoon is so blue that it should be stated in the Duden under true blue. You firstly see the lagoon when you come with the plane. When the plane circles over the lagoon you do see billions of turquoise-blue facets only interrupted by the dark color of the corals blocks, almost white sandy beaches and the green of the palm trees. In that moment I knew that it was worth to come the long way from Europe to the cook islands.
Aitutaki is an “almost” atoll. That means that the fringing coral reef grows while the volcanic island subsides. Aitutaki consists of 15 motus (islands), the main island Aitutaki and the peninsula Outu. There is one Airport on the island with flights to Rarotonga and Atiu.
The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometers in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands (including Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua). The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki’s important features including a boat passage through the barrier reef allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga. Towards
the south of the side is a small break in the barrier reef, allowing access for small boats to the lagoon which covers most of the southern part of the triangle. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island. Its fertile volcanic soil provide tropical fruits and vegetables. Two of Aitutaki’s 15 islets (motus) are also volcanic. The rest are made of coral.
Some facts about the Aitutaki atoll
Archipelago: Cook Islands
Coordinates: 18°51’S, 159°47’W
Count of Motu (Islands): 15 excluding main island Aitutaki and peninsula Ootu
Main Island: Aitutaki
Land area: 18km²
Lagoon area: 50km²
Polynesians probably first settled Aitutaki around AD 900. The first known European contact was with Captain Bligh and the crew of the HMS Bounty when they discovered Aitutaki on April 11, 1789. Aitutaki was the first of the Cook Islands to accept Christianity, after London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary John Williams visited in 1821. The oldest church in the country, the Cook Islands
Christian Church in Arutanga
In 1942 New Zealand and American forces were stationed on the island, building the two-way airstrip that can be seen today. This
airport, and one on the northernmost Penrhyn Island, were to be used as bases by the Allies during World War II. The first aircraft, an American light bomber, landed on November 22, 1942. When the war ended some of the servicemen remained
During the 1950s Aitutaki’s lagoon was used as a stopover for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) flying boats on the famous Coral Route. The islet of Akaiami was used as a resting stop for passengers, who often lay about until the aircraft was refuelled for two hours. These operations ceased in 1960, and the only reminder are the remains of the purpose-built jetty on Akaiami
On February 10–11, 2010, Aitutaki was hit by Cyclone Pat. The high winds of the storm ripped the roofs off of most houses and damaged other buildings including a school and a hospital. At least 60% of houses were damaged. There were no reported deaths but a few minor injuries were reported.
Places of interest
1) Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), a small islet in the south-east of the lagoon. Ask for a stamp in your passport.
2) Honeymoon Island. Truly the most beautiful island on this planet. Red tailed Tropic Birds (Tavake) are breeding on this island.
3) Diving near the coral blocks on the southern part.
Diving and the Giant Clams
It doesn’t matter for what you aim for Aitutaki, fishing, kite surfing or simply sun bathing. Never miss the opportunity for snorkeling, no matter do it your own snorkeling in the lagoon, on the reef (take care for the current), or you book organized diving tours. The under water world is amazing. You see a lot of tropical fishes and most of all giant clams that grow to more than one meter of size. That’s real monsters.
Not convinced? Then have a look