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The Cook Islands is undeniably a beautiful destination.
There's one island that comes across as particularly dreamy, however, and that's Aitutaki. Known as a hub for honeymooners, it's no surprise that starry-eyed couples head to this little piece of paradise renowned for its pristine beaches, clear waters and wonderful hospitality.
Here are just some of the reasons why you might want to make Aitutaki your next holiday destination.
1. Award-winning beaches
Even the most negative, beach-opposed, sand-hating pessimists note that the beach on One Foot Island is a beauty. Picture talcum-white sand, sashaying palm trees, warm water the colour of aquamarine, and a remote stillness which will make you question if you’ve died and gone to heaven. Pack a tropical picnic and at low tide, stroll along the deserted sandbar to the other nearby islands.
2. Cultural performance
While many visitors to Aitutaki focus on its overt natural beauty, there's yet another reason to love this island - and that's its proud displays of culture. The village of Vaipae, also known locally as Hollywood, is home to energetic showmen who perform daring fire dances and other wonderful feats of singing and dancing.
3. Saturday markets
You can also discover plenty about local life at the Saturday Markets, which take place at the Orongo Centre at the Aratunga Wharf. Here there are plenty of colourful sarongs, hats, mats, bags and of course, juicy fresh fruit for you to enjoy.
4. Sunbathing in paradise
On Aitutaki, it's not unlikely that you'll find yourself as the only person on a long, empty stretch of beautiful beach. Take the time to soak in the scenery so breath-taking it's unlike anywhere else. Apart from gazing in awe at the palm-fringed surroundings and glistening waters, you should take a dip, too.
5. Water sports
Grab a snorkel and see what kind of colourful marine creatures you can get up close and personal with. There's also sailing, stand-up paddling, bone-fishing and kite surfing to try.
6. The joy of song
There's nowhere quite like Aitutaki for hearing the locals sing. A particular highlight is to head to the limestone coral rock Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC), which is the oldest church in the nation. The acoustics of this church are an absolute dream, making it a magical experience to listen to the congregation sing stirring hymns in unison.
7. The world’s smallest post office
Perhaps you don’t usually get excited about a Post Shop, but One Foot island’s is “enveloped” (yes, punny) by lush palm trees and boasts angel-white sand tickling its front steps. Pop inside and you’ll probably feel inclined to send yourself a postcard. Better yet, take your passport, and you can have it stamped. Very few people can say they have that!
8. Aitutaki day tour
Even if you’re not staying on Aitutaki itself, you can easily take a full day tour, complete with pick-up, 45-minute flight and a cruise aboard the 21 metre Vaka catamaran. Slicing through crystal clear water, you’re transported from one idyllic slice of paradise to the next, stopping at several motu (small islets) for snorkelling, swimming and relaxing. While back on-board, the cooks are whipping up a mean barbecue lunch.
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