Tours, Activities and Must-Dos on Aitutaki
What are the must-dos on Aitutaki? As one of the most stunning lagoons in the South Pacific, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of our list of things to do on Aitutaki involve experiencing the lagoon one way or another. From snorkelling in nature’s aquarium to kitesurfing at the famous Honeymoon Island, the butter-flat turquoise waters of the Aitutaki Lagoon can’t help but give you a good time. Meanwhile on land, admiring the view from scenic lookouts, hitting the historical spots and attending a local “island night” are just some of the experiences you could be immersed in.
Create your dream “Aitutaki must-do” list using this guide to the best things to do on Aitutaki. Oh, and don’t forget to find a place to stay using Where to Stay on Aitutaki: The Best Aitutaki Accommodations.
1. Cruise the Breathtaking Aitutaki Lagoon…
You can’t travel to Aitutaki and not explore the lagoon – that’s why we’re going to mention it several times in this list of the best things to do on Aitutaki!
The lagoon cruises here provide an exciting day snorkelling with tropical fish, giant trevally and giant clams, as well as, stopping off at a sandbank, indulging in a barbecue buffet, and getting your passport stamped at the world’s most unique post office on One Foot Island. Lagoon cruises vary slightly in their itinerary, with some focussed on small-group snorkelling adventures while others offer a more easy-going time on larger boats. Compare them all in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.
Location: Cruises depart from Ootu Beach, with the exception of Kia Orana Cruise which departs from Arutanga Wharf, but transfers are typically included.
2. … Or Cruise the Lagoon on a Private Charter…
Experience the Aitutaki at your pace by swapping a group lagoon cruise for a private charter. Many of the larger lagoon cruise operators offer private charters on smaller boats, while those like Kutekute Tours & Transfers, Platinum Cruising, Wet & Wild and Black Pearl Charters specialise in lagoon charters. Again, we compare private charters in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises in Aitutaki, while more activities like this can be found in the 5 Best Luxury Experiences on Aitutaki.
Location: Charters depart from Ootu Beach, but transfers are typically included.
3. … Or Cruise the Lagoon at Sunset
Ok, this is the last time we’ll mention lagoon cruises – we swear there are actually more things to do on Aitutaki. But the Aitutaki Lagoon at sunset… Oh boy! Treat your partner, family or group to a late afternoon/evening excursion with Kutekute Island Tours & Transfers. Snorkel among beautiful coral, enjoy a relaxing float on a water hammock and indulge in a private sunset platter on the beach. Alternatively, Teking Lagoon Tours offers a shorter sunset tour with a bottle of Champagne and a stop at Honeymoon Island. Whoever you choose to cruise with, the Aitutaki Lagoon at sunset is sure to blow you away.
Location: Charters depart from Ootu Beach, but transfers are typically included.
4. Hike to the Top of Maunga Pu for Panoramic Island Views
Sticking to dry land this time, another amazing thing to do on Aitutaki is to walk to the summit of the island’s highest point. Maunga Pu is the peak of Aitutaki at a height of 124m (407ft) and can be walked up in 20-30 minutes from the sign at the base. Alternatively, you can drive part-way up the narrow tar-sealed road and park at the grassy crossroads. Either way, head up to the left to reach Maunga Pu’s summit with a cellphone tower at the top and a whole lot of gorgeous island and lagoon vistas. There is no shelter on this walk, so it’s recommended to do it either in the morning or evening to avoid the beating sun.
Location: West coast of Aitutaki between Paradise Cove and Tai Marino. Park on the abandoned lot opposite the Maunga Pu sign.
5. Try Local Food and Be Captivated by a Cultural Performance at an Aitutaki Island Night
Energetic drumming and vibrant dancing with traditional attire swishing in between, the entertainment on island nights can’t help but leave you in awe. Tamanu Beach Resort‘s island night is infamous across Aitutaki, taking place every Thursday from 6.30pm starting with live music from a local ukulele band. The buffet with both local and international food begins at 7pm until around 8.30pm when the cultural performance from the Aitutaki’s talented dancers begins! See how the island night compares to others across the country in the 7 Best Island Nights in the Cook Islands.
Location: Tamanu Beach Resort, northwestern coast of the main island.
6. Experience Kitesurfing at Honeymoon Island
The butter-flat waters of the Aitutaki Lagoon offer the perfect conditions for kitesurfing in the season between May and September. Kitesurfing specialists like Wet & Wild and Aitutaki Kite School can take you out to their bases on Honeymoon Island for private lessons, while water taxi and gear rental is also an option for those who know what they’re doing. Learn more about the hobby in our guide, Kitesurfing in the Cook Islands: The Top 10 Places to Kitesurf.
Location: Transfers are included with the operators mentioned above.
7. Set Sail on a Hobie Cat
Another way to enjoy the lagoon and harness that wind energy is sailing. Sailing Aitutaki offers private lagoon excursions on their 17ft Hobie catamaran, the most eco-friendly way to explore the lagoon. The relaxed three-hour tour takes you to a motu (island), allows you to try sailing for yourself, stops for snorkelling, and includes light refreshments. See more private experiences in the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do on Aitutaki for Couples.
Location: Tours depart from Ootu Beach, but transfers are included.
8. Swim with Humpback Whales
From July to October, whales migrate to the warm waters of Aitutaki to raise their young, which is an incredible opportunity to see these gentle giants from both above the surface and when snorkelling alongside them. Whale excursions are available with Wet & Wild and Bubbles Below. Learn more about swimming with whales in The Best Time to See Whales in the Cook Islands.
Location: Discover more about the tours and their locations in the 7 Best Whale Tours in the Cook Islands.
9. Try Your Luck at Bonefishing, Deep Sea Fishing or Spearfishing
The Aitutaki Lagoon is not only famous for its beauty but for its bonefish. Try out the art of bonefishing for yourself with E2’s Way or Aitutaki Blue Lagoon Flyfish, both offering private fishing guidance with all the gear included (except the fishing licence, which you can learn more about in The Ultimate Guide to Fishing in the Cook Islands). If the deep sea or spearfishing is more your thing, head out with Black Pearl Charters and catch some whoppers.
Location: Compare charters and find their locations in The Best Fishing Charters in Aitutaki.
10. Scuba Dive with Turtles
While snorkelling steals the limelight on Aitutaki, there are a couple of incredible dive sites in the lagoon that will get you to see just a little bit more. Bubbles Below (Dive Aitutaki) is the main dive operator of Aitutaki, offering dive lessons and single, twin and ten-dive packages. Learn more about what they offer in the 5 Best Dive Shops & Operators in the Cook Islands.
Location: Bubbles Below dive shop is located at the Arutanga Harbour.
11. Indulge in an Island Spa Treatment
Many who’ve visited Aitutaki probably wouldn’t believe there is a way to get more rejuvenated on Aitutaki. Those people haven’t had an Aitutakian spa treatment… The island is home to several resort spas, with top contenders being Tiare Spa at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki and SpaPolynesia at the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort. Alternatively, guests at Etu Moana or Tai Roto Bay can enjoy in-villa head-to-toe massages. See similar experiences in our 10 Adults-Only Activities on Aitutaki.
Location: Discover which spa is right for you and find their locations in the 5 Best Spas in Aitutaki.
12. See the Giant Clams at the Marine Research Centre
On the road toward the golf course (more on that later), the imposing sign for the Marine Research Centre is easily spotted. Take a look around the giant clam and native clam nursery and learn about the conservation work done here from the site manager, Richard (usually available from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday). What’s more, entry is only on donation. See more affordable experiences like this in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Aitutaki.
Location: Follow the road to the northern tip of Aitutaki, around the lefthand side of the old airstrip and toward the golf course. The Marine Research Centre is signposted on the left hand side before reaching the golf course.
13. Hit the Snorkelling Hotspots
Sheltered by the lagoon reef, the waters within the lagoon are generally safe and harbour exciting marine life for snorkellers. Most beachfront accommodations offer complimentary snorkels, masks and fins for guests. Otherwise, it’s definitely a good idea to bring your own to hit snorkelling spots like Base One at the western end of the old airport runway, as well as Ootu Beach and the stretch of beach between the Pacific Resort Aitutaki and Tamanu Beach Resort. Check out all of the snorkelling hotspots in The Best Snorkelling in Aitutaki: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Just about any beachfront accommodation on Aitutaki. Base One is at the western end of the old airport runway. Ootu Beach is at the southern end of the new airport runway. Pacific Resort Aitutaki and Tamanu Beach Resort line the northwest beaches of the island.
14. Listen to the Harmonious Singing of an Aitutaki Church Service
The powerful harmonies echoing across the churches on a Sunday is an experience not to be missed. Don your most church-appropriate attire (cover knees and shoulders) and head to one of the churches across the island, typically with a 10am service. The CICC Church in Arutanga is highly recommended, which is one of the oldest churches in the Cook Islands. For more recommendations, check out the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: CICC Church is at the southern end of Arutanga. Use the visitor’s entrance along the length of the church (on the roadside). Visitors sit on the pews just as you enter the church from this entrance.
15. SUP or Kayak on the Lagoon
Stand-up paddleboards (SUP), paddles and kayaks are a staple of any beachfront accommodation on Aitutaki, giving you hours of fun at your disposal. With flat lagoon waters to enjoy, having a paddle is easy – just be careful of the coral, especially at low tide. If you have a choice, paddling from Ootu Beach or Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort is rewarding with nearby motu (islands) and a sandbank to explore. Learn more about having a kayaking adventure in Aitutaki in the Kayaking in the Cook Islands: Top 5 Places to Kayak.
Location: Just about any beachfront accommodation on Aitutaki. Ootu Beach is located at the southern end of the new airport runway.
16. Do a Tiki Tour Around the Island by Car, Scooter or Bicycle
Exploring the main island of Aitutaki is a fun way to spend the day, especially as car, scooter and bicycle hire is so readily available. Whatever mode of transport you prefer, there’s much joy to be had exploring the scenic roads of Aitutaki from the palm-fringed east side roads to the bush tracks in the south. You can hit many places mentioned in the Top 10 Sights on Aitutaki and A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Aitutaki.
Location: Check out The Best Car Rentals in Aitutaki, Scooter Hire in Aitutaki: Where to Rent, Cost & More and Cycle the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes.
17. Scout Out the Historical Sites
Relating to the tiki tour mentioned above, other sights to scout out on Aitutaki are the historical sites. An easy one to find is the site of the original Tautu village settlement and church, Silo 1, featuring an information panel should you want to learn more about the history. There is also a marae site at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Te Poaki Memorial in Vaipae and the anchor at Nikaupara town hall.
Location: Check out locations in the 10 Best Historical Sites in the Cook Islands.
18. Drive Through the Giant Banyan Trees
This won’t take you too long but is totally worth doing when taking a trip around the island. The banyan tree arches across the road and makes for a fun photo opportunity! Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do on Aitutaki with Kids.
Location: On the main road between Vaipae and Tautu villages.
19. Experience Aitutaki’s Dining Scene
Of course, Aitutaki has many dining options to try throughout your time on the island. Enjoy fine dining at the adults-only Rapae Bay Restaurant of the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, try contemporary international meals with a local spin at the Avatea Cafe, and a selection of well-presented meals using local sustainable ingredients at the Koru Cafe. See a full list of recommendations in The Best Places to Eat in Aitutaki: 10 Best Restaurants in Aitutaki.
Location: Pacific Resort Aitutaki – Main road on the west coast, just north of Amuri. Avatea Cafe – On the inland road of Tautu village, near Gina’s Garden Lodges. Koru Cafe – Ootu Beach.
20. Tee Off at Aitutaki’s Golf Course
That’s right, Aitutaki has its own tropical 9-hole golf course among swaying palms and lagoon views nearby the airport. You can hire clubs from the airport to enjoy teeing off at your own leisure or join the locals for their Thursday competition starting 3.30pm-4pm. Find out more about making the most of Aitutaki’s golf course in The Complete Guide to Golf in the Cook Islands.
Location: The northern tip of the island, above the old runway.
More Things to Do on Aitutaki
You didn’t think that was all of the things to do on Aitutaki, did you? Well, we’ve squeezed in more experiences across the following articles:
Finally, add even more to your itinerary by using our whopping list of 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.