What Can You Do on Atiu for Free?
Let’s be honest, once you get to Atiu, everything is relatively affordable (especially compared to Rarotonga and Aitutaki)! To make it all the more reassuring that you’ll stick to your holiday budget, we’ve listed 10 of the best free things to do on Atiu. Combine these with some of the affordable tours that we list in the 20 Best Things to Do on Atiu and you’ve got a holiday from heaven.
While you’re here, don’t miss The Complete Travel Guide to Atiu on a Budget with more tips for keeping the costs to a minimum.
1. Swim in a Natural Infinity Pool at Konakonako Landing
A short walk from the roadside at the northwest end of Atiu, Konakonako Landing makes for a stunning photo op. When the tide is just right (aim for low tide), a small pool is created looking like your own private infinity pool!
Location: On the roadside, approximately 750m (820 yards) west of the airstrip building.
2. Or Swim at the Local’s Swimming Pool, Taunganui Harbour
When the barges aren’t going in and out to unload supplies from the infrequent cargo ships, the Atiu Harbour (or Taunganui Harbour) makes for a fun sheltered spot to swim and snorkel. The water’s deep enough for splash and it’s worth donning your snorkelling gear to see fish and coral.
Location: West side of the island. Head west to the coast when you reach the northernmost crossroads or take the western road from Teenui village all the way to the end.
3. See Captain Cook’s Landing Site at Orovaru Beach
For a dab of colonial history, stop by Orovaru Beach, which was the landing site of British explorer, Captain James Cook, on April 3 1777. It’s also a scenic spot to bring a picnic.
Location: Western side of Atiu, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) south of Taunganui Harbour.
4. Stand in the Centre of Atiu!
That’s right, if geographical points are your thing, then you’ll want to get a photo with the white statue marker indicating the Centre of Atiu. It’s also near the highest point of the island at 60m (197ft).
Location: On the roadside on a large grassy clearing, opposite the CICC Church and just north of the hospital. On the southern boundaries of Teenui and Mapumai villages.
5. Go for a Swim at Taungaroro and Tumai Beaches
These two beaches, only approximately 400m (437 yards) apart, are Atiu’s most popular swimming beaches. If you need somewhere to cool off and get some stunning snaps, Taungaroro and Tumai Beaches will provide!
Location: Signposted off the western coastal road, 1.5km (0.9 miles) south of Oravaru Beach.
6. Soak in the Views from Te Tau
The southern tip of Atiu is another worthwhile spot to pull over and check what’s down the path. Spoiler alert: it’s a magnificent view of the Atiu coastline and the Pacific Ocean! A path at Te Tau leads you down to a rugged coral field. When the swell is on, you’ll see epic waves breaking over the reef.
Location: South side of Atiu, accessible off the coastal road.
7. Swim in the Sinkholes at Takauroa Beach
At low tide, find three picturesque sinkholes west of Takauroa Beach and east of Matai Landing. When the falling tide empties through the sinkholes you’re left with all sorts of colourful fish temporarily trapped in your own natural aquarium. That’s why they also call this place the “Coral Garden“.
Location: Southeast of Atiu, west of Takauroa Beach and east of Matai Landing.
8. See the Historical Marae Vairakai
While some ancient “marae” (Maori gathering place) are only accessible with a guide, Marae Vairakai is at the end of a short walking trail north of Kopeka Lodge. Here, you’ll find around 47 deliberately placed slabs surrounding the area, some of which have mysterious projections cut into the rock.
Location: Kopeka Lodge, Areora, located off a branching road between Teenui Village and Atiu Villas.
9. Walk Along the Reef to The Three Grottos
At low tide (again), experience the crystal clear waters and Atiu from an interesting perspective on a reef walk to The Three Grottos. Oneroa Beach provides the best access to The Three Grottos when you don’t have a guide. You’ll need to walk along the reef in knee-deep water for approximately 30 to 45 minutes – only on a calm day, though, as the waves crash over the reef where there’s a big swell. The reward is three caves opening up to the sea just 200m (219 yards) apart. Some have pools for a refreshing dip. Return the way you came, giving yourself plenty of time before high tide!
Location: Oneroa Beach, southeastern side of Atiu. Walk north from Oneroa Beach to reach The Three Grottos.
10. Experience the Glorious Harmonies of an Atiu Church Service
Finally, on a Sunday, don’t miss the free cultural experience of an Atiuan church service. The Zione CICC Church, the largest church in the Cook Islands, welcomes visitors to all of their services, but most just attend the 10am service. There’s also the picture-perfect Catholic Church just down the road. Discover more churches worth visiting in the 10 Best Churches in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: Both churches can be found in the centre of the island on the main road between Teenui, Mapumai and Tengatangi villages.
More Free Things to Do on Atiu
That’s it for our list of free things to do on Atiu, but you really didn’t think that these were all of the free activities on the island?! Check out these articles for more ideas:
Finally, if there’s any part of the Cook Islands excursion that you haven’t planned, you’re likely to find all the advice you need in The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide and 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.