The Top Guided Tours on Atiu
Atiu is a natural playground with vast caverns in its “makatea” (jagged limestone rock), dense jungle, swamps and beaches. It’s also a traditional island where many of its cultural activities still ring true to how they were hundreds of years ago, such as “tumunu”, pig hunting and “umu” feasts. While many natural and historical highlights can be visited independently, many others can only be accessed with a guide and local know-how. There are many informal cave guides on Atiu, who are usually arranged by your accommodation or the tourist information centre, taking visitors to some of Atiu’s lesser-known caves and “marae”. In this list, however, we show you some of the more formal guided tours of Atiu, which tend to have a comprehensive experience of interesting commentary, hands-on experiences and local cuisine.
Before checking out the tours, you might want to also open The Complete Travel Guide to Atiu and Where to Stay on Atiu: The Best Atiu Accommodations to help plan more of your trip.
1. Birdman George Eco Tours
The Cook Islands Maori name for Atiu is “Enuamanu“, meaning the “land of birds” so it would almost be a crime to not join a tour to scout out the colourful kura or rare kakerori! Luckily, “Birdman George” is here to tremendously increase your chances of seeing the island’s wonderful birds. Not only will George point out birds that he has been looking after on this island since he was first employed as a conservationist to look after endangered kakerori on Atiu, but he’ll also point out all sorts of interesting Atiuan plants and explain their medicinal uses. On the tour that involves both walking and driving, you’ll also be taken to historical sites. The finale is at a picturesque beach where George will serve either a tropical spread for a picnic lunch or an “umu” (Polynesian underground oven) on a Sunday. The tour lasts four to five hours and transfers are included.
See more tours like Birdman George’s in the 10 Best Eco Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
2. Atiu Eco-Adventure Anatakitaki Cave Tour
A must-see attraction on Atiu, Anatakitaki Caves are a series of caves with awesome limestone stalactites and home to a rare and fascinating bird. Join Ben from Atiu Eco-Adventure Anatakitaki Cave Tour for a three-hour guided experience taking you through the dense rainforest (with jagged coral rock, so make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear) to three spectacular caves. Bring your swimwear for the cave pool and put on your best bird-spotting hats for seeing the kopeka, a swiftlet unique to Atiu, that uses sonar just like a bat. Ben will tell you more about these amazing birds or check out the 20 Animals & Birds Unique to the Cook Islands. Tours last approximately three hours and transfers are included. See more amazing caves tours in the 5 Best Caves on Atiu.
3. Punarea Culture Tours
Punarea Culture Tours offers two fantastic tours for those wishing to immerse in the unique culture of Atiu. Their signature “Culture Tour” not only offers fascinating historical context and crafting demonstrations, but a significant portion is dedicated to traditional Atiuan cuisine. You’ll see how “Tuki Poi” is prepared, as well as help your host weave plates for the umu which has been slowly cooking local meat and vegetables while you have been enjoying your tour.
Alternatively, try their traditional pig hunting tour which takes you deep into the rainforest of Atiu (wear decent tramping shoes) where you’ll learn how to set traditional traps to catch wild pigs. With (or without) your success, the experience will conclude with an umu feast. The hunting experience is available all year round and is best suited to adults. Both tours last approximately three hours and transfers are included.
4. Atiu Island Coffee Tour
Who would have thought that this tiny South Pacific island was the best place to go in the Cook Islands for a cuppa?! Join Mata Arai from Atiu Island Coffee who resumed her family’s arabica coffee plantation in the 1990s and has been going strong since. Her delightful coffee tour allows you to learn about the coffee bean growing process, what makes Atiu perfect for growing arabica beans, and how to hand roast the beans on a tour of the Atiu Island Coffee plantation and roastery. You’ll also learn about the secret ingredient that makes Atiu’s coffee unique! The tour concludes with a taste of the good stuff along with yummy pikelets and coconut cream! Note that a minimum of two people are needed for the tour to go ahead and tours depart from Mapumai, north of the Air Rarotonga office and south of Akai Bakery.
Check out more food tours in the 6 Best Foodie Experiences on Atiu.
5. Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours
Timau from Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours offers three fantastic ways to experience Atiu! First is his “Island Discovery Tour“, showing you the cluster of villages and their remarkable history and industries on a 3h30mins tour. Next, you have fishing charters either around Atiu or around Takutea, a small island 23km (14 miles) northwest of Atiu. Fishing trips also include a tropical lunch. Finally, Timau is most renowned for his “Tumunu Tour” taking you to the “bush beer bars” of Atiu which are a centuries-old tradition that you can learn more about in The Food Guide to Atiu: Places to Eat & Food Tours. The tour takes you through the tradition, allowing you to meet the locals and learn more about the history of this cultural experience. Transfers are included in all of the tours mentioned.
More Tours on Atiu
Now that you know the best guided tours on Atiu, check out alternative experiences on the Cook Islands’ eco-escape!
Finally, see how the tours compare to the 10 Best Guided Tours of Rarotonga & the Cook Islands and create more of your Cook Islands bucket list with the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.