Which Cruise to Choose on the Aitutaki Lagoon
If there’s only one thing you do on Aitutaki, make it a lagoon cruise. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many options for seeing one of the South Pacific’s most stunning lagoons. Large Polynesian-style vessels, small-group adventure tours, private sunset charters, glass-bottom boats and sailing catamarans: they are all ways to enjoy the Aitutaki lagoon and its motu (islands). Snorkelling gear, towels, transfers, water and lunch are typically included on full-day tours, but it always pays to check with the operator for any additional needs. Be sure to bring reef-safe sunscreen and a sense of humour if the weather turns bad.
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1. Teking Lagoon Cruises – The Best Lagoon Cruise on Aitutaki for Adventure, Conservation and Seeing More of the Lagoon
With a maximum of 10 passengers, Teking Lagoon Cruises offers a small-group experience on the breathtaking Aitutaki Lagoon. Their “Snorkelling Safari Tour” is the most popular cruise they offer, visiting four of the lagoon’s motu (islands) and three vibrant snorkelling spots where the focus on ecology and conservation allows you to get more out of the experience.
Enjoy around 30-45 minutes of snorkelling time among giant clams, giant trevally and purple coral. Your experience also includes a refreshing island barbecue on Maina Island, as well as a visit to Honeymoon Island and the infamous One Foot Island and its sandbank. Tours are approximately five hours, departing at 9am. Accommodation transfers are included.
Although most clientele are couples and adults, families are welcome on the cruise with staff on board even happy to look after younger ones while you go for a snorkel at the deeper spots.
Private charters and two-hour sunset tours with Champagne are available.
2. The Vaka Cruise – The Most Unique Boat on the Aitutaki Lagoon
Definitely one of the most photo-worthy boats on the Aitutaki Lagoon, The Vaka Cruise takes place on Vaka Tiki-a-Tonga, a Polynesian-inspired double-hulled vessel. The cruise is a popular option with day trippers to Aitutaki, as the lagoon cruise of choice when booking a day tour with Air Rarotonga. Those staying on the island, however, still benefit from accommodation transfers.
The six-hour cruise starting at 10am offers plenty of snorkelling time with giant trevally, giant clams and all sorts of tropical fish. You’ll also set foot on One Foot Island and enjoy an island-style lunch on the boat.
The cruise is popular with all traveller types, but is especially recommended for families, older travellers and those with minor mobility issues, as the large boat is one of the easier on the lagoon to embark and disembark.
3. Bishop’s Cruises – The Best Aitutaki Lagoon Tour for Visiting One Foot Island
The largest boats on the lagoon, Bishop’s Cruises either has you on their 16 pax boat with a minibar or their 45 pax catamaran with a minibar, changing area and toilets. The upper deck of their larger vessel allows for an elevated view of the lagoon, ideal for Instagram-worthy photos.
Enjoy six hours on the lagoon including stops for snorkelling, standing on a heavenly sandbank, and making an obligatory stop at One Foot Island. Indulge in a barbecue lunch under the shade of the company’s hut on the island and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring One Foot Island at your own leisure.
Drop-offs at One Foot Island, as well as half-day and full-day charters are also available.
4. Kutekute Tours & Transfers – The Best Sunset Cruise and Private Charter
See the lagoon in a whole different light on a private lagoon cruise with Kutekute Tours & Transfers. Departing in the late afternoon (usually around 4pm), their “Sunset Lagoon Cruise” takes you to a mix of exciting snorkelling spots with giant trevally, giant clams and/or the Purple Wall. You have the optional extras of twilight snorkelling and a unique water hammock float down the channel between One Foot Island and Tekopua. You’ll then enjoy a stunningly presented beach picnic platter on the uninhabited Moturakau as you watch the sunset. The tour is the only tour to return to the mainland after dark, allowing you a stargaze on the journey back to Ootu Beach.
This cruise is all about you, so let the team know what you’d like to do. Otherwise, they are happy to show you the highlights. This tour is utterly romantic for couples, but groups of three to six are also welcome to take part, as well as families.
5. Kia Orana Cruise – The Best Small-Group Lagoon Cruise on Aitutaki
See much more of the lagoon than some of the larger Aitutaki lagoon cruises with Kia Orana Cruises. Join “Captain Fantastic” for an adventure on a small but quick speedboat with a group maximum of 10 people.
The cruise is the only lagoon cruise that departs from Arutanga, rather than the usual Ootu Beach, making seven exciting stops throughout the day. Visit where they filmed “Shipwrecked” on Moturakau, stop by the sandbank, Tekopua then the famed One Foot Island. You’ll then cross the lagoon to Honeymoon Island, Tavake then Maina for lunch. Of course, in between are plenty of snorkelling spots.
The small-group cruise is best for couples and adult groups looking for a more adventurous cruise. Cruises depart at 9am and operate Sunday to Friday.
6. Sailing Aitutaki – The Most Eco-Friendly Lagoon Cruise on Aitutaki
An alternative way to cruise the sheltered waters of the Aitutaki Lagoon is on a Hobie sailing catamaran with Sailing Aitutaki. This low impact option provides one of your best chances for spotting turtles thanks to the unintrusive boat, while those keen to try sailing for themselves can get hands-on experience with your guide, Captain Ted.
The half-day trip departing from Ootu Beach at 9am (transfers included) includes visiting some motu, planting a baby coconut tree on a sandbank and relaxing with some lunch. Of course, this activity is dependent on safe weather conditions on the lagoon. The private guided experience is suitable for up to four people. Children are welcome.
7. Wet & Wild – The Best Watersports Charter on the Aitutaki Lagoon
Perhaps more known for their kitesurfing and whale swimming excursions, Wet & Wild also offers sightseeing tours on the lagoon. All lagoon tours are private, with your choice of sightseeing, snorkelling, island-hopping and the unique options to try wakeboarding or inflatable tube rides off the back of the boat. Let the team know what you want to do and they’ll likely have the gear to give you an awesome alternative experience on the water.
8. Platinum Cruising – The Most Luxurious Speedboat on the Aitutaki Lagoon
It’s all about the boat on a private lagoon charter with Platinum Cruising. Glide over the flat lagoon waters on a comfortable BRIG Eagle 650 with a Yamaha 200hp engine. Popular with couples, although groups of six can be catered to, there are full-day and half-day private charters available. The former includes lunch on One Foot Island, soft drinks and beer, and departs at 10am. Half-day charters are available in the morning and afternoon and only include drinks. As with all lagoon cruises, snorkelling gear is included.
9. Mona’s Lagoon Charter – The Most Authentic Lagoon Cruise on Aituaki
Join the locals for a fun and active full-day or half-day charter on the lagoon. Mona’s Lagoon Charter is another popular choice for couples, with the full-day tour including four to five snorkelling stops and four to five island stops, depending on what you feel like. A barbecue lunch on an island is part of the experience, as well as refreshing coconut juice and water.
10. Ru’s Lagoon Cruise – The Best Glass-Bottom Boat Cruise of the Aitutaki Lagoon
The only glass-bottom boat on the Aitutaki Lagoon, Ru’s Lagoon Cruise offers more ways to appreciate the underwater world of the lagoon. Look out for turtles, giant trevally and giant clams through the boat’s floor and jump in the water yourself for snorkelling. You’ll stop by motu to relax and have a good tropical feed with a barbecue lunch and fresh fruit.
More About Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki
That’s it for our list of the best lagoon cruise son Aitutaki but is by no means the only way to experience the island and its lagoon. Inspire yourself for more things to do using the following guides:
Finally, don’t miss any part of your holiday planning with The Complete Travel Guide to Aitutaki and Where to Stay on Aitutaki: The Best Aitutaki Accommodations.