Everything You Need to Know About Transport on Atiu
Isolated some 214km (133 miles) from Rarotonga in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean sits the coral uplifted island of Atiu. You can only fly to Atiu from one other airport, while only the occasional cargo boat makes its way to the edge of the reef. Although there is no public transport and no taxis, the island’s mainly dirt roads and one sealed road going through the cluster of villages can be explored via car, scooter and bicycle. Find out everything you need to know about getting to and around Atiu with this Atiu transport guide.
1. Atiu by Domestic Flight – How to Get to Atiu
The only “real actionable” way to get to Atiu is via plane (we say “real actionable way” because no one recommends you to take the cargo ship – not even the locals. More on that at the end of this list). Domestic flights with the Cook Islands’ sole domestic carrier are available from Rarotonga with return flights available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and Saturdays in the high season), as well as from Aitutaki on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Flights last approximately 45 minutes from Rarotonga and 40 minutes from Aitutaki. Alternatively, package flights of “Rarotonga – Aitutaki – Atiu -Rarotonga” are available.
The cost of flights to Atiu are updated in Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands: Your Guide to Interisland Flights.
2. Car Rental – How to Get Around Atiu
Car rental is a popular way to get around Atiu, as cars are more comfortable on the unsealed road, do not require a local driving license, and you won’t get soaked when there’s a tropical downpour. Car rentals are available with accommodations on the island, as well as a local convenience store, which we compare in The Top Atiu Car Rental Companies.
We also recommend that you become familiar with the local road rules, which we outline in How to Drive in the Cook Islands + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know.
3. Scooter Rental – How to Get Around Atiu
A popular way to navigate any island in the Cook Islands is by a scooter. Although it has the benefit of costing half the daily rental of a car, it is less comfortable to drive on Atiu’s predominantly unsealed roads. Scooter rentals are available through accommodations and a convenience store – find out more in our guide, Scooter Hire in Atiu: Where to Rent, Cost & More.
A local scooter license is required to legally drive a scooter around Atiu, which you can pick up from the Police Station. It is a much easier and cheaper process to do than on Rarotonga (but your license here will be valid on Rarotonga – winner!)
4. Bicycle Rental – How to Get Around Atiu
The cheapest way to get around Atiu (other than using your own two feet) is by hiring a bicycle. Cycling around the entire island of Atiu is only a viable option for the fit and healthy, considering the outer road is approximately 19km (11.8 miles). Plus, that tropical sun can be pretty brutal when cycling. However, bicycles can be a good way to cycle through the villages or to the beach from your accommodation. Find out more about where to rent a bike in Cycle the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes.
5. Accommodation Transfers (Airport Transfers) – How to Get Around Atiu
The accommodations on Atiu offer complimentary return airport transfers, welcoming you with a floral ei (neck garland). There is sometimes a fee of around NZ$10-$15 per person if you’re only staying one night. You may also receive a short island orientation tour by your host on arrival.
6. Guided Tours – How to Get Around Atiu
Another way of getting around Atiu to see the sights is with a guided tour that includes transport. This also has the added benefit of discovering hidden gems, such as historical marae and caves, that are otherwise impossible to find on your own. Find out more about your guided options in the 5 Best Tours in Atiu and 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
7. Cargo Boat – How to Get to Atiu
We leave the mention of catching a cargo boat to Atiu until last because it’s not a recommended way to get to the island but we still like to give you all of your options. Cargo boats in the Cook Islands are notoriously unpredictable, only leaving Rarotonga for the Southern Group and Northern Group islands once or twice a month. If your heart is set on the adventure and you have the time to spare, reach out to Taio Shipping at the Avatiu Wharf on Rarotonga to organise your voyage. More information can be found in our Cook Islands Cargo Ship Guide: How to Use the Ferry for Interisland Travel in the Cook Islands.
More About Atiu Transport and Getting Around Atiu
That’s it for our guide to Atiu transport with the ways to get around Atiu, as well as how to get to Atiu. If you have more questions about travelling around Atiu, check out the following guides:
- Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands
- The Driving Times in the Cook Islands You Need to Know
- What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands
Finally, see where your transport can take you with our itineraries: The Best Cook Islands Itineraries for 2 Week, The Best Cook Islands Itineraries for 10 Days and The Best Cook Islands Itineraries for 1 Week.