The Cook Islands are well known for their stunning beauty, crystal clear water and tranquil setting. The archipelago transports you to some other world away from the mundane worries of your daily life. The most romantic of the lot is probably the Aitutaki which is the archetypal romantic getaway that promises honeymooners a blissful time away from the world. Here you have all the amenities you desire, but also a feeling of isolation from the outside world. Here you are truly alone with each other without a care in the world. Aitutaki has been lovingly nicknamed the Honeymoon Island for obvious reasons and lives up to its name. It has been gathering popularity as a wedding destination for some time now. Undoubtedly, with the tranquil water, stunning beaches and breathtaking sunset, the destination of your dreams comes alive on this tropical island.
The main island of Aitutaki and the barrier reef surrounding it is almost like an equilateral triangle in shape, each side nearly 12 km long. The central lagoon is one of the most celebrated attractions of the island. The palm fringed beaches are like paradise on earth and the fact that mass tourism has not yet managed to ruin the pristine locations add to the appeal and allure of Aitutaki. Tapuaetai or the One Foot Island is one of the major attractions of the place and has been recognised as one of the leading Australian beaches. The magic white sand plays its role quite effectively.
The Honeymoon Island
Aitutaki has a rich historic legacy which is both astounding and equally fascinating. It has witnessed Spanish invasions, bloodthirsty seafarers and Maori migration over the course of time. And now the pristine beauty nature has to over has won over couples from around the world to make this beautiful island one of the most preferred honeymoon destinations. Captain William Bligh sighted Aitutaki for the first time in 1789 and since then the world has been witnessing the charms of the most glorious of the Cook islands. It is less than an hour by air from Rarotonga and is the proverbial tropical island.
The white sand, the magical sea and the flight of sea birds come together to create an ambiance that is truly unique. The Polynesian legends surrounding the island are also quite interesting. The original inhabitants believe that they are descended from Ru- the famous seafaring warrior who sailed from Avaiki, the Polynesian homeland and settled here with his four wives. He sailed with his followers in a double-hulled canoe and landed on the beach on a full moon night. Mesmerised by the island’s beauty, he named his landing point O’otu – full moon. It is also said that the highest peak of the otherwise flat island was carried to its present place by fearsome warriors who claimed victory over the mainland. Ceremonial volcanic boulders are still placed in formation on the island and visitors continue to be fascinated by them.
The Bishop’s Cruise and other marvels
Aitutaki has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. When on this island, you cannot afford to miss the Bishop’s cruise which is a brilliant experience. The cruise offers a view of a flock of technicolor fish and makes a different world come alive with the Aitutakian songs, dances and storytelling. The island is also a great snorkeling haven and the flying boats that sailed in the original coral route add to the charms of this island.
Aitutaki is a shopper’s paradise with the Saturday market teeming with tourists and locals alike. The colors of the local land come alive in the gathering which is a milieu of traditions and modern lifestyle. The traditional Pandalus hats, bags, mats and fresh seasonal produce are available at affordable prices. Visitors can also lay their hands on colourful sponges and souvenirs to remember Aitutaki by.
Aitutaki is the home to the oldest church in the Cook island. The church is imposing and has magnificent acoustics that makes listening to the church hymns a divine experience. The village of Vaipae, nicknamed Hollywood comes alive every Sunday to the sound of drumbeats and the toe tapping music to which Aitutakian dancers beat up a storm. Fire dancers showcase some traditional techniques that perhaps have taken centuries to perfect. The fire dancers cause tiny tremors in your heart with their bravado.
Missionary influence in the island today (Aitutaki was the first among the Cook islands to convert into Christianity) is limited to a number of beautiful white churches and the traditional attire mu mu. Thankfully the Aitutaki genes did not permit the giving up of drumming, dancing and other carnal pursuits in the name of religion (as dictated by missionaries once upon a time).
Thus if you want to have a blissful romantic vacation away from the nitti gritties of everyday life alone with your loved one, come to Aitutaki. It will transport you to a world that is very familiar and yet unknown. There is something about the easy going and hospitable attitude of the Aitutakians that lure you to the island and leave you with memories to last a lifetime. The just married will know.