Aitutaki, accessed by a pricey flight from Rarotonga is the Bora Bora of the Cook Islands, a gorgeous 5 sq. mls (8 sq. kms) coral atoll necklaced by an azure lagoon and 21 talcum sand islets, 225 kms (140 mls) north of Rarotonga.
The big action on Aitutaki involves either hiking to the top of 124 metre high Mount Maungapu for an overview of the area, snorkelling, fishing or scuba, with lunch served on one of the coconut tree shaded, white sand islands.
The most popular island in Aitutaki is touted as one of the best South Pacific beaches, One Foot Island aka Tapuaetai, a 20 minute boat ride from the main island.
Although the flight here is pricey (several 50 min flights a day), accommodation is not too bad, ranging from the expensive Aitutaki Lagoon Resort to some reasonable guest houses and backpacker lodges.
Aitutaki, One Foot Island (aka Tapuaetai).
Some of the Cook Island’s outer islands also have flights from Rarotonga so diehard adventure travellers could find places with few or no other visitors and isolated atolls. Accommodation of some sort – even with local people – is always available. These islands are among those that have flights:
Manihiki (north), aka the Island of Pearls, is one of the prettiest of the Cook’s with a 4km wide lagoon – dotted with 40 islets – that provides top snorkelling, swimming and black pearls.
Pukapuka (north) is small, remote and has habits and customs similar to Samoa. Swimming and snorkelling are good.
Mangaia (the most southerly island) offers stunning rock formations and caves, so climbing, caving, interesting drives, biking and horse riding can be added to the usual snorkelling activities.
n. b. Rarotonga and Aitutaki are in the southern island group.