Cook Islands Reviews

Aitutaki Day Tour From Rarotonga: Discover Paradise With Air Rarotonga

one foot island in aitutaki air rarotonga day tour

Experience Paradise: The Aitutaki Day Tour With Air Rarotonga

No matter where you are staying in Rarotonga, the magnificent island of Aitutaki is only a short flight away thanks to daily departures with Air Rarotonga. Though, due to its inaccessibility for common goods it can be a lot pricier than the popular island of Rarotonga, especially when it comes to accommodation and meals. But, with the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga, you can experience absolute paradise landscapes aboard a luxury catamaran, a tour of the quaint town, return flights and the best meal you will have in the Cook Islands for about the same price of just the flights themselves.

Get ready for isolated sandy beaches, smooth lagoon cruising and laughter as you are entertained by the amazing staff on the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga.

aitutaki boat in lagoon rarotonga

portrait in aitutaki rarotonga islands

Flying To Aitutaki With Air Rarotonga

A full shuttle bus picks us up at 7am outside of our accommodation in Rarotonga. Heading towards the airport the sky’s here are grey. A light rain falls with smalls streaks of sun occasionally popping through the clouds, it is less than ideal conditions. Though, luckily we will be missing out on this.

The check in at Rarotonga Airport is extremely easy. We just hand over our passports and the boarding passes are printed out. It is more like a receipt paper than your regular boarding pass, but if you have visited Rarotonga before you will know than things are a lot more relaxed here.

Soon enough it is time to board our flight. We are directed onto a plane sitting on the runway and take our seats. Surprisingly enough, even in such a small aircraft, it is extremely roomy.  There is a lot more leg space than any other flight I have been on.

Taking off we are presented with amazing views of Rarotonga down behind us. The rain covers certain parts of the island while the morning sun starts to take over. Before we know it we are surrounded by ocean for as far as the eye can see, oh and of course the clouds.

Though, the further away we fly the clouds begin to disappear until there are only a couple left in the sky. Once at cruising altitude the smiley air hostess offers us all candy and a beverage.

air rarotonga plane at airport

boarding pass by air rarotonga

Arriving In Aitutaki For The Day Tour

While descending, the island of Aitutaki quickly comes into view with its unmistakable beauty. The waves crash against the massive lagoon, dotted with reef and shallow waters, resulting in the most amazing shades of blue. Everyone has their cameras out, snapping shots of the mother natures creation. Fifteen islands are located in the lagoon which make up Aitutaki, though many of these are inhabited.

The landing into Aitutaki Airport is smooth and it does not take long to depart with everyone excited to take their first steep on this amazing island. We are quickly greeted by our tour guide, Ali. His cheery and hospitable persona set us off to an amazing day in paradise.

view of aitutaki from air rarotonga plane

plane arriving in aitutaki air rarotonga

Tour Of The Town

At the airport we are loaded onto a literal truck. Though, with bench seats lining the outside we all grab a cushioned spot and relax back enjoying the island breeze flowing through.

We are given the low down on Aitutaki, which quite surprisingly has a lot of history. From being the first airport in the Cook Islands during the war to being the birthplace of Christianity of the country. It seems Aitutaki is more than just paradise landscapes.

One of the main differences between Aitutaki and Rarotonga is the lack of dogs. In fact there is not one single dog on the entire island, they were band when the chiefs daughter got attacked back in the day and people still live by that law.

The township of Aitutaki is small being homed to less than 2000 people and our tour guide seemed to know every person we passed. From the children at the school, to the workers in the port and the locals maintaining the jungle like landscapes. He tells us most people here have multiple jobs as there is a surplus of employment here, even he is a fire dancer by night.

waiting in aitutaki town

school in aitutaki

church in aitutaki

Cruising Aitutaki Lagoon

Through gorgeous palm tree planted fields and along the shoreline we reach one end of the beach where are large catamaran is waiting. The 21 meter boat easily fits us all on and having the seating undercover provides the perfect shelter from the intense Aitutaki sun.

Greeted by music and fresh coconuts it is the perfect way to get into the island vibe. The beat of the drums is contagious and you will find yourself suddenly bouncing each time a new song starts up!

The Vaka Cruise is certainly a highlight of the Aitutaki day tour and when you look at the turquoise colored surrounding lagoon it is understandable why. Though, having such a well equipped boat, with entertainment and plenty of space is the cherry on top of the cake.

warm welcome on the aitutaki day tour air rarotonga

cruise Aitutaki

coconut on the aitutaki lagoon

The Beautiful Island Stops

The first stop on the boat is not far away down the lagoon. The sand is perfectly white and clean, no rubbish or rocks in sight. This is my kind of beach! Palm trees line the shore on both sides of the boat and the turquoise waters are extremely inviting.

I jump straight in at the first opportunity. There is no way I can turn down the most perfect beach I have ever seen! The ocean has so much salt that I can effortlessly float without having to move a muscle. This is how I spend the next twenty minutes before it is time to board again for the next stop.

We head close by to where two islands lay next to each other. The one we disembark at is actually where many seasons of the TV show Survivor has been filmed, as well as the UK TV show, Castaway. The tour guide Ali walks us around the island, telling of stories which play a large part in the history of Aitutaki while we dodge the hundreds of crabs lining the shore.

Explore the lagoon at Aitutaki

underwater fish on a gopro in aitutaki

beautiful island in aitutaki

island in aitutaki with air rarotonga

floating around the aitutaki lagoon

Lunch During The Aitutaki Day Tour

The crew on the Vaka Cruise catered to all my self confessed foodie needs. With a mixture of both local and western options the buffet style lunch is the perfect spread.

The freshest fruits such a papaya, watermelon, mango and passion fruit are provided. They all go down a treat and are extremely refreshing. There are numerous salad dishes as well as delicious fish and bread made the local way.

Oh, and if you try one food on of Vaka Cruise it must be the poke! Seriously, it was the best poke I had while in the Cook Islands.

relaxing around the aitutaki lagoon

lunch on the vaka cruise in aitutaki

island of palm trees in aitutaki


Stopping in the middle of the lagoon we are provided with snorkels and flippers. Gearing up on the boat we jump into the water preparing to start treading water. Though, in amazement the water was only chest high. That is not what you expect when you are literally in the middle of a lagoon with the outlying islands in the distance.

The world under the water was absolutely incredible. I never imagined I would be snorkeling with fish half my size, especially in a such shallow area. Though, the Giant Trevally did not seem bothered in the slightest as I swim around them.

Giant calms dot the seafloor and curious fish come up to see what all the splashing is about. The life within the lagoon is vibrant and amazing. There is so many different species and the coral formations rising up from the ocean floor covered in hard coral.

underwater swimming with fish in aitutaki

two islands in aitutaki

palm trees on one foot island in aitutaki

One Foot Island

No doubt the most famous island in Aitutaki is One Foot Island. It is the last stop on the Aitutaki Day Tour before heading back to the mainland. The gorgeous palm trees, turquoise waters and white sand make this place the picture definition of paradise.

On arrival we head to the main building to get our passport stamp. This costs $2.00 NZD / $1.50. You can also buy postcards here if that tickles your fancy. It is a ‘thing’ to get your passport stamped here. I think it is so you can prove you have been to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, but don’t quote me on that.

Jumping back into the water after putting my passport safely on the boat, I swim across to a nearby island. On this island the sandbar seems to go on forever, just ankle deep water as far as the eye can see. It is the perfect place to bring out the GoPro and snap some amazing Insta worthy pics.

beautiful photo of one foot island in aitutaki

post office on one foot island

playing on the beach on one foot island in aitutaki

passport stamp from one foot island

relaxing in water on the vaka cruise aitutaki day tour

sand bar in aitiutaki

Leaving Paradise

I was certainly not ready to leave paradise. Though, the time had come to board the boat for the last time and head back to the mainland.

The crew play music while we cruise across the lagoon and soak in the last of these amazing sites. The mood is upbeat, but none of us are ready to leave this beautiful place.

As a traveler I go to new destinations to experience the best of the world, from impressive cityscapes, harsh mountain ranges and lush jungles. Though, having explored Aitutaki I know I will never experience a more naturally paradise landscape than I am now. It is a strange feeling being sure that it does not get better than it will at this moment, but that it the only way I can sum up Aitutaki.

Saying goodbye to paradise from the seat in the plane I watch the amazing lagoon fade further into the distance. Aitutaki is a place which I know I will come back to one day without a doubt. Though, while I wait, I have a sunburn to nurse and ocean drenched hair to control.

flying above aitutaki on the air rarotonga day tour

plane view of the aitutaki lagoon


Want more Cook Islands inspiration? Check out….

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

Backpackers Wanderlust was a guest on the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga while in The Cook Islands, however, as always, all opinions are my own.


  • Reply
    mayuri patel
    March 4, 2018 at 1:23 am

    All pictures are so stunning, love your article
    would love to visit here soon

  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Truly you are in a paradise. it is such an amazing and relaxing place.

  • Reply
    Chloe P
    February 26, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Amazing photos and great info! Adding it to my list 😍

  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Wow! What an amazing day trip! I would love to do this one day! Your photography is incredible! Beautiful and informative post!

  • Reply
    Brigitte Minks
    February 26, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Damn girl! Those photos, this article! You make me want to go there so badly now! I really love the way you’re editing your photos as well and will search for your Instagram too!

  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Your pictures are stunning. I need to go snorkeling there, such a beautiful spot!

  • Reply
    Harmony, Momma To Go
    February 26, 2018 at 1:15 am

    wow this looks amazing! Right up my ally of beach, beautiful views and no dogs!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Amazing pics and so beautiful! If only I had the money, haha.

  • Reply
    Sarah Shumate
    February 25, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    I just can’t get over how beautiful the water is here! It truly deserves to be called a paradise! I love your photo of the black and white fish swimming in the water!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 11:59 am

    These photos are a dream!!! Love it <3 Hope to visit some day 🙂

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Such beautiful photos! Makes me want to book a flight right now!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Oh my God! That looks amazing – the water, the beaches, the food – everything! I so wanna go there 😍

  • Reply
    Ana Ro
    February 25, 2018 at 9:08 am

    This is a paradise! I would love to visit it, and looking at the pictures now in the middle of our winter I just want to feel the sun and to see the blue water. Lovely photos too!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Holy Cow! That is a beautiful place. I think I might have hidden out and built myself a little shelter. So incredible. The passport stamp is so cool!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Schlueter
    February 25, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Holy [email protected], this looks like paradise for real! Loving your photos, especially the parted airplane one – beautiful!

  • Reply
    Joy Sheehan
    February 25, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Your photos are just stunning! I love all the hues! This place looks absolutely incredible!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Amazing photos – that aqua colour is incredible!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Your photos are amazing! I want to go just for that adorable passport stamp from One Foot Island!

  • Reply
    Linda de Beer
    February 25, 2018 at 5:56 am

    I’ve heard about the Cook Islands, but the name doesn’t give any indication they are so beautiful. Just wow! Your photos and detailed information make me want to visit Aitukaki now!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 5:03 am

    This is absolutely stunning. Just wow. That half underwater, half above the water picture especially is amazing. Aitutaki has just leapfrogged its way up my bucketlist.

  • Reply
    Janine Good
    February 25, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Okay so the Cook Islands are just a dream. I have them on my list and cannot wait to see them one day. When I move to Australia (planned for 2021 ish) I will be heading here along with other South Pacific dream destinations. I love the passport stamp. That is the sweetest ever.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 4:00 am

    Is that place even real? I had to google search it to see if it’s close to me but alas, I shall dream about it until I can plan a trip to just go there. The water is just insaneeeee!

  • Reply
    Emma | Luxurybackpacking
    February 25, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Oh my gosh I did this trip! It was insane, although instead of the day tour I stayed for 3 nights in Aitutaki, which was incredible!
    Brings back memories for sure 🙂

  • Reply
    Jen Horsfall
    February 25, 2018 at 1:28 am

    That water is insane! Can only imagine how exciting it must have been to fly into the island!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Such gorgeous photos and descriptions that really make me want to put this on my bucket list!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 12:41 am

    Omg your photography is gorgeous! The water looks insanely blue. What a paradise. I would love to visit!!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Holy moly this is one beautiful place!! This spot is definitely jumping up my bucket list, it looks just perfect! Thanks for sharing your stunning photos!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Rarotonga is the most amazing place. So beautiful, calm and relaxing. And then Aitutaki – heavens!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Your photos are beautiful! And that water looks stunning, I need to go here one day!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    My kind of place, journey, life, Cork islands are amazing!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    I didn’t know a place with this name existed, yet you managed to catapult it onto my bucket list 🙂 The colour of the water looks surreal! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Lenise Calleja
    February 24, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Planning a visit to Cook Islands next year. I hope to be able to make it to Aitutaki as well. It looks like heaven on Earth 🙂

  • Reply
    Rowena (A Nomad on the Loose)
    February 24, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    So jealous I’m gonna cry myself to sleep so I can dream about this 😉

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Oh my gosh. The blue is so amazing – and this is coming from someone who lives in the Philippines (we have a thousand island and beaches). Would love to be able to visit Aitutaki someday too.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Wow it looks AMAZING! Visiting the Cook Islands is a dream! And the passport stamp is probably the cutest on Earth, that’s why I’d get it ahah!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    I had no idea you could visit Aitukaki on a day tour. I’d love to visit the Cook Islands this year and will def look into this option when making my plans.

  • Reply
    Josy A
    February 24, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    This really does look like paradise! That water is just so so beautiful!

    How did you ever drag yourself away!?

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