Aitutaki Day Tour From Rarotonga: Air Rarotonga Review

sand bar reaching out into the lagoon on our aitutaki day tour

Find out all you need to know about going on the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga. I will be giving you all the information you need to know such as how to book, costs and what to expect.


We’ve all seen that windows screen saver of palm trees overhanging turquoise blue water on a secluded island. Well, welcome to Aitutaki. I knew I wanted to visit but there was no way I could afford the crazy prices of the resorts there! Luckily I found out about the Aitutaki Day Tour which makes visiting the island a whole lot more accessible.

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. This is especially true when it comes to accommodation and meals. Luckily, with the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga, you can experience absolute paradise. Enjoy life 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 as 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 Day Tour With Air Rarotonga: Discover Paradise

enjoying the shallow waters sitting on a sand bar in aitutaki
enjoying the shallow waters sitting on a sand bar in aitutaki

Why Do An Aitutaki Day Tour

Now I am not going to lie I personally was a bit skeptical of the Rarotonga to Aitutaki day trip when I first booked. It is a lot of money for a backpacker to afford so my expectation was set very high. Though my parents had visited there before and their stories of the place sounded incredible. White sand bars stretching into the lagoon, crystal clear turquoise waters, and fish the size of a small child.

Aitutaki is honestly unlike any place I have visited before. If I were to imagine the closest it would be a small slice of the Maldive relocated to the South Pacific. Though without the ridiculous 7-star accommodation. Sure if you can afford it why not stay over at Aitutaki. Though the day trip encompasses all the best thing has to offer into one well-planned day.

Enjoy being whisked around the town, learning about the history and culture. Step aboard a decked-out catamaran and get ready for the best views you have ever witnessed. Welcome to paradise.

our incredible wooden catamaran boat on our day tour
view from the front of the boat on our aitutaki day tour

How To Book

You can book the Aitutaki Day Tour online with Air Rarotonga. It is best to do this in advance before you arrive on the island as it is known to sell out.

Though if you manage to get lucky or space opens up you can book once you are in Rarotonga directly through your hotel.

You are also able to amend or cancel your booking up to and including the day of departure. This provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to planning and especially giving peace of mind when booking in these pandemic times.

looking out to the incredible blue waters in aitutaki
looking out to the blue waters in aitutaki // a fresh coconut in paradise, what perfection

How Much Is The Aitutaki Day Tour

The Aitutaki Day Tour costs $493.00 NZD for an adult or $246.50 NZD for a child aged 2-11 years of age. Children under 2 years old are free.

The plane departs from Rarotonga domestic Airport at 8am each day.

tasha amy on the aitutaki day tour
enjoying these incredible views on our vaka cruise

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. Though if you have visited Rarotonga before you will know that 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 the 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.

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 makes 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 step 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.

small air rarotonga plane at rarotonga airport
our plane which would be taking us on our rarotonga to aitutaki day trip
view from plane landing in aitutaki
flying over the incredible lagoon of aitutaki
boarding ticket aitutaki day tour
my paper boaridng pass to go on the aitutaki day tour

Exploring Aitutaki Township

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 banned when the chief’s daughter got attacked back in the day and people still live by that law.

The township of Aitutaki is small being home 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.

church buildings in aitutaki
beautiful pastel-colored churches in aitutaki
aitutaki main tain
hiding from the heat in the shade at aitutaki main township
the local school in aitutaki
checking out the local school in aitutaki

Lagoon Cruise In Aitutaki

Through gorgeous palm tree-planted fields and along the shoreline we reach one end of the beach where our 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.

vaka cruise in aitutaki fresh coconut and music
the oerfect arrival onto our lagoon cruise with fresh coconuts, fruit, and music
the vaka boat in aitutaki
the vaka boat we did our lagoon cruise on // floating in the salty lagoon
the vaka cruise boat in aitutaki sitting in the lagoon
arriving at our lagoon cruise in aitutaki to this incredible boat

The Beautiful Island Stops

The first stop on the boat is not far away down the lagoon. The sand is perfectly white and clean, with 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 stories that play a large part in the history of Aitutaki while we dodge the hundreds of crabs lining the shore.

small islands in aitutaki on our day trip
walking along the sand bar on our aitutaki day tour
an old wharf sitting just above the waterline in aitutaki
the waveless lagoon waters in aitutaki

 

a beach in aitutaki with blue water and white sand
arriving on our first stop of the day, this beach in aitutaki

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 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.

fruit platter on the vaka cruise in aitutaki
having lunch onboard the boat on the aitutaki day tour, i am vegetarian which is why it is mainly fruit

Snorkeling 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 are so many different species and coral formations rising up from the ocean floor covered in hard coral.

small zebra patterned fish under the water in aitutaki
small zebra-patterned fish under the water in aitutaki
swimming with trevally on the aitutaki day tour
swimming with trevally on the aitutaki day tour

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 stamps. 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.

palm trees on one foot island
arriving on one foot island in aitutaki
the vaka cruise on one foot island on our aitutaki day tour
floating in the crystal clear water while we stop at one foot island on the aitutaki day tour
one foot island stamp in passport
getting the one foot island stamp in my passport

Is The Rarotonga To Aitutaki Day Trip Worth It

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 plays 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 natural 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 is 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 that 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.

the bright blue waters of one foot island in aitutaki
the bright blue waters of one foot island in aitutaki

What To Pack

There are some things it’s best to take along with you on your Rarotonga To Aitutaki Day Trip to make the most out of your experience. Also, keep in mind you are only allowed to take 7kgs worth of luggage as carry-on. They will provide towels and snorkeling equipment.

Camera: Of course you can’t forget the camera. You will want this when you are visiting One Foot Island. This place is absolutely incredible and if you are going to hike to the viewpoint then you will want to capture to view.

Go Pro: For sure bring along your Go Pro if you have one. The underwater world here is pretty damn good. You will regret not bringing along your GoPro at your first snorkel spot.

Sunblock: Let’s avoid looking like a lobster and bring a reef-safe sunblock along with you!

Sunglasses: It’ll definitely be worth bringing sunglasses along with you. The sun shining off the sea can be super bright so protect your eyes by bringing along a pair of sunglasses.


Where To Stay In Rarotonga

There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Rarotonga. From small hostels, apartments on the beach, luxury resorts, and everything in between.

Though just be aware that even 5-star resorts in Rarotonga don’t actually look too great so adjust your expectations accordingly. This is an island with limited resources and seems to be a few years behind New Zealand, which is again, a few years behind the rest of Oceania. As a result, rooms can look quite dated, think floral prints from the ’70s, though that’s just the atheistic on the island.

Find the best hotels in the area

kiikii inn

Kiikii Inn & Suites

Beach front location with affordable bungalows from $105.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
club raro resort

Club Raro Resort

With standard rooms from $130.00 you can enjoy life on the beach at an affordable price.

BOOK NOW
sanctuary rarotonga

Sanctuary Rarotonga Resort & Spa

Romantic adults only resort. With rooms from $230.00 per night enjoy luxury in peace.

BOOK NOW
the rarotogan resort

The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa

Set on a private beach this 4 star resort is the perfect getaway from $190.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

 


Things To Do While In Rarotonga

One great thing about Rarotonga is that is it basically impossible to get bored during your stay! There is such a wide variety of things to do and beautiful sights you will constantly be out exploring.

Also, for a more extensive list be sure to check out my post on the Best Things To Do In Rarotonga.

Raro Buggy Tours: I have always wanted to do the buggy tour as there is such hype so I booked it in on my most recent trip. I remember saying at the start to my partner that we must swap halfway so I get some fun. Though when that time came I was enjoying it so much I was happy to stay a passenger!

Cultural Show: A more tame activity is checking out one of the evening cultural shows. These are a magnificent insight into the Cook Island culture with extremely impressive performances involving dance and fire. A buffet dinner is also included with both western and local favorites.

Lagoon cruise: More of a family-friendly activity is the lagoon cruise. There are a couple of companies you can book with, though we went with Koka Lagoon Cruises. It is a perfect way to get into the Cook Island spirit. With plenty of performances, snorkeling, entertainment, and a delicious lunch it is the ideal way to spend half a day.

Across Island Hike: One of the most popular things to do is do the Across Island Hike and visit The Needle. This will take you right into the interior of the mountainous island with some amazing ocean views.

Beach Hop: Now you cannot go to Rarotonga and miss out on exploring the incredible ocean life and this can easily be done on a budget, if not for free. Basically, no matter where you are staying on the island the ocean is just a walk away. Do what I did and bring your own snorkel, or hire your own from a few dollars a day. Honestly, you could spend hours exploring the underwater life and corals (pro tip: the best snorkeling spot is Aroa Marine Reserve behind The Rarotongan beach resort or in front of Fruits of Rarotonga)

Swimming With Sea Turtles: No matter what your budget is swimming with sea turtles is one activity I recommend to everyone visiting Rarotonga. This experience will have you swimming alongside these majestic beauties. I did this with Ariki Adventures and cannot recommend this enough. As an alternative, they also offer a lagoon safari which I recently did. This is suitable for all ages and is safe for those who are not the most confident swimmers.

Quad Biking: If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie then quad biking is perfect for you! Head right into the inland area and among the jungle. Explore off the beaten track and get some of the best views of the famous needle which stands high over Rarotonga.


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Find out all you need to know about going on the Aitutaki Day Tour with Air Rarotonga. I will be giving you all the information you need to know such as how to book, costs and what to expect.


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.

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18 thoughts on “Aitutaki Day Tour From Rarotonga: Air Rarotonga Review

  1. Christine says:

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

  2. Brigitte Minks says:

    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!

  3. Sarah Shumate says:

    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!

  4. Kathleen says:

    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!

  5. Linda de Beer says:

    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!

  6. Emma says:

    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.

  7. Janine Good says:

    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.

  8. Emma says:

    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 :)

  9. Kathi says:

    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!

  10. Lenise Calleja says:

    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 :)

  11. Katherine says:

    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.

  12. Eloise says:

    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!

  13. Jayne says:

    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.

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