Scenic, Historic and Cultural Sights on Aitutaki
Exploring is all part of the joys of travelling and it’s no different on the island of Aitutaki. From scenic mainland sights, such as lookouts and impressive churches, to photo-worthy islands and historical sites out on the Aitutaki Lagoon, there is certainly a mix of noteworthy sights on Aitutaki. Add some spots to your itinerary with this list of the best places for sightseeing on Aitutaki.
For more Aitutaki advice, head over to the 20 Best Things to Do on Aitutaki and find a place to stay in Where to Stay on Aitutaki: The Best Aitutaki Accommodations.
1. One Foot Island (Tapuaetai)
Easily the most famous island on the Aitutaki Lagoon, One Foot Island – its Moari name Tapuaetai – is a popular stop for lagoon cruises. Many cruises stop here for a barbecue lunch, leaving you plenty of time to explore the sights. A highlight is the post office where you can get your passport stamped and pick up other souvenirs. See more sights like this in The 10 Most Famous Places in the Cook Islands.
Location: Southeast side of the Aitutaki Lagoon. Accessible with Bishop’s Cruises, Teking Lagoon Cruises, Kia Orana Cruise, The Vaka Cruise and Platinum Cruising. Find out more in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.
2. The Sandbank
Just in front of One Foot Island is another hotspot for lagoon cruises, aptly known as “The Sandbank“. This stunning little sight offers pure white sand surrounded by azure waters. It’s an excellent place for a paddle and getting some stunning lagoon shots. We also list it in our 10 Best Photography Spots.
Location: Southeast side of the Aitutaki Lagoon. Accessible with Bishop’s Cruises, Teking Lagoon Cruises, Kia Orana Cruise, Kutekute Tours & Transfers and Sailing Aitutaki. Find out more in the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki.
3. Maunga Pu
The tallest peak on Aitutaki at 124m (407ft), Maunga Pu is a sight to be admired from below and from its summit. Impossible to miss with a cellphone tower sticking out of its head, the mountain can be fully hiked up or partially by driving up the first section on a narrow tar-sealed road. Either way, the summit offers outstanding panoramic views across the island and out to the lagoon’s motu (islands). Find out more about the walk in the 5 Best Walks on Aitutaki.
Location: West coast of Aitutaki between Paradise Cove and Tai Marino. Park on the abandoned lot opposite the Maunga Pu sign or at the crossroads up the trail where the tar-sealed road meets the grassy road.
4. Ootu Beach
Looking out to the lagoon’s eastern motu, Ootu Beach is a picturesque sight on Aitutaki. Relax on the loungers lining the coconut palm-fringed beach and swim in the shallow lagoon waters where you can reach a sandbank jutting from Akitua (the island of the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort). There’s good snorkelling around the wharf here, while there are also plenty of spots to grab a cocktail or a bite to eat. See the 5 Best Bars in Aitutaki and 9 Best Cafes & Takeaways on Aitutaki for recommendations.
Location: Ootu Peninsula. The southern end of the peninsula, past the end of the new airport runway.
5. Honeymoon Island
A hotspot for kiteboarding in the season and one of the better-known lagoon motu, Honeymoon Island offers incredible sightseeing on Aitutaki with its vast sandy beach and knee-deep surrounding waters. Keep an eye out for turtles and enjoy amazing snorkelling spots among coral near here, as outlined in The Best Snorkelling in Aitutaki: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Western side of the Aitutaki Lagoon. Accessible with Teking Lagoon Cruises and Kia Orana Cruise. Water taxis and charters are also available with Black Pearl Charters and Wet & Wild. Find out more in the 10 Best Snorkelling Tours in Aitutaki.
A piece of history on the Aitutaki Lagoon, Akaiami is a private island that was once the stop of the glamourous Coral Route. The remains of the old wharf where passengers would depart from the boat planes onto the island still remain, while those looking for a real adventure can stay the night at the secluded accommodation here, Akaiami Paradise. Learn more about the history of the site here in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Aitutaki.
Location: Eastern side of the lagoon. Accessible with The Vaka Cruise and Kutekute Tours & Transfers. Water taxis can also be arranged with Akaiami Paradise.
7. CICC Church Arutanga
One of the most impressive buildings on Aitutaki, the CICC Church in Arutanga is not to be missed. Either visit as part of a Sunday church service to admire the interiors and light displays from the stained-glass windows or get a photo from the Arataki Lookout on the hill behind it. Learn more about the church experience in the 10 Best Churches in the Cook Islands to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: On the main road at the southern end of Arutanga.
One of the smaller motu, Moturakau is also a lesser-visited island on the lagoon creating a blissful ambience. The island is one of the very few volcanic islands in the lagoon, distinct with black rock formations and rock pools to explore. The birdlife here is vibrant, while a short walking trail through the bush is another way to soak up the natural beauty of this island. Moturakau has also been used in the filming of TV shows.
Location: Southeastern side of the Aitutaki Lagoon. Accessible with Kia Orana Cruise and Kutekute Tours & Transfers. Learn more about taking water taxis to Aitutaki’s islands in our Aitutaki Transport Guide.
9. Piraki Lookout
Another scenic spot that you don’t have to hike to nor take a boat to admire, the Piraki Lookout provides some amazing views across Aitutaki and out to the surrounding motu. It’s the second-highest point on the island and typically a very peaceful setting with a picnic table, water tanks and the occasional goat to keep you company.
Location: Well signposted from both the east and west side of Aitutaki. From the west side, turn inland between the Heineken Store and the Aquila Petrol Station then turn left at the crossroads.
10. Tautu Silo 1 Church Site
Other than tropical forest and crabs skittering across the dirt road, there’s seemingly not much to see at the southern tip of Aitutaki’s main island. That’s with the exception of a historical and holy site of the Silo 1 church that was built in an isolated spot in 1889. An interpretation panel is here on a well-kept large grassy area with a memorial to the church, allowing you to read the history and hardships of the church’s worshippers.
Location: Southern tip of Aitutaki, alongside the dirt road between Tautu and Nikaupara.
More About Sightseeing on Aitutaki
That’s it for our list of the top 10 sights on Aitutaki but is by no means the end of all the sights available. Get more inspiration for things to see on Aitutaki with the following guides:
- 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in the Cook Islands
- 10 Best Beaches in Aitutaki
- The Best Spots for Stargazing in the Cook Islands
Finally, add more to your itinerary using the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.