The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea©
The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea

The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea


Everything You Need to Know About Takutea Island

A verdant uplifted atoll in the South Pacific, temptingly visible from the island of Atiu in the Cook Islands, Takutea is rarely explored except, of course, if you are a bird…

This bird and turtle sanctuary is not only a physically challenging island to land on with its fully locked encircling reef but getting permission to visit here is a bureaucratic nightmare. Nevertheless, those that are lucky enough to sight Takutea from afar will enjoy the view of its encircling seabirds and the fishing opportunities that surround it while those who are highly skilled can enjoy the surfing and diving opportunities.

Learn all about Takutea Island in the Cook Islands with this complete travel guide to Takutea.

Frequently Asked Questions About Takutea

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about Takutea, so we won’t waste any time in this Takutea travel guide giving you the answers to the questions that most travellers have about visiting.

Where is Takutea?

Takutea is located in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands, approximately 16km (10 miles) northwest of the island of Atiu. The Cook Islands is located in the South Pacific, which you can learn more about in Where are the Cook Islands Located?

Do People Live on Takutea?

No, people do not live on Takutea. The island is believed to never have been permanently inhabited.

The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea© Unsplash

How to Get to Takutea

… With great difficulty! Even Captain Cook and his crew struggled to get on the island on April 4 1777. The island is only accessible in calm weather on the west side (lee side). The only way you might find yourself getting to Takutea is on a research vessel, but for most travellers, that’s really not an option.

Fishing Trips to Takutea

One way to get around Takutea, however, is on fishing boats from Atiu. Local fishing charters, such as Atiu Safari & Fishing Tours, offer boat trips to the waters of the island for fantastic fishing and closer views of Takutea than anyone usually gets to experience.

Learn more about getting to Atiu and visiting the island in Atiu Transport Guide: 7 Ways to Get to (& Around) Atiu and The Complete Travel Guide to Atiu.

Sailing Around Takutea

Alternatively, private yachts can also admire Takutea from a distance. Learn more about visiting the Cook Islands via yacht in our Sailing Guide to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Tips for Yachting in the Cook Islands.

Permissions to Visit Takutea

Note that anyone visiting Takutea and its nearby waters needs to obtain permission from Takutea Trustees, Atiu Trust, Atiu Island Council and the  National Environment Services.

The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea©

The History of Takutea

It is believed that Takutea was never permanently settled, despite Captain Cook and his crew discovering huts on the island in 1777.

Atiuans from the nearby island of Atiu traditionally used to voyage to Takutea in vaka (traditional canoes) to harvest copra (coconut flesh) and hunt for coconut crabs, fish, crayfish, birds and turtles. After many people lost their lives at sea when using vaka to voyage between Manihiki and Rakahanga in 1963, a law was introduced in the Cook Islands that forbade voyaging between islands in traditional craft. After that, Takutea was largely left alone to become a safe haven for wildlife.

Some decades later, Takutea was declared a bird and turtle sanctuary.

The Complete Travel Guide to Takutea©

Things to Do on Takutea

… Or should we say “things to do near Takutea”, as it’s highly unlike that you’ll make it onto the reef or sands encircling the island. However, those that visit its waters have a few experiences at their disposal.

Birdwatching at Takutea

Of course, watching the thriving seabird population circle the skies above Takutea is the main highlight of this island. Look out for red-tailed tropicbirds, red-footed and brown-footed boobies, great frigates, brown and black noddies, white terns, reef herons and more.

Scuba Diving at Takutea

One of the most untouched and unspoiled coral reefs in the Cook Islands, those who are lucky and skilled enough to dive around Takutea are in for a treat.

Surfing at Takutea

Only a handful of surf expeditions have made it to the two epic surf breaks on the outskirts of Takutea. One break is off the west corner of the island and the other break is over the shelving reef, projecting 200m (656ft) off the southeast corner of the island. It has been noted (by a pilot of the local airline that is also a keen surfer) that the best conditions are when storm waves come from the east-southeast and a northwest trade wind blows. This creates waves where 400m (1,300ft) rides are possible for the expert surfer.

More About Takutea and the Cook Islands

That’s it for our complete travel guide to Takutea in the Cook Islands. For more less-explored islands to visit, check out the following guides:

Finally, plan the rest of your Cook Islands expedition using The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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