Aitutaki is a safe travel destination in almost every way. Of course, some risks arise that are similarly experienced elsewhere. Those things travelers should be aware of in order to protect themselves from harm include:-
- Bugs: Mosquitoes are the most common complaint from Aitutaki visitors. Sand flies are also a terrible problem on this island in particular. Bug spray deterrants and preventative application of a tropical strength product should reduce the chances for bites from occuring. Malaria is not found in the Cook Islands. Mosquitoes are more of an annoyance, but can pose a health danger during infrequent dengue outbreaks. Consider bringing some cortisone or other anti-itch cream for mosquito and sand fly bites. Don't scratch the bites. (See cuts and scrapes below.) Bee and wasp stings can be treated with a local remedy. Simply break a branch or flower from a frangipani (Plumeria) tree and apply the milky sap directly to the skin. Relief can be instantaneous for those not allergic to insect stings and associated skin allergies. Cover exposed skin with long sleeved blouses and shirts, together iwth trousers around sunrise and sunset. Dark colours and perfumes attract vectors. White and cooler colours serve to deter mossies because they like to hide in dark places..
- Cuts and Scrapes: Cuts and scrapes can easily become infected in the tropics if left untreated. Bring a reputable antiseptic or antibiotic cream to treat any cuts immediately. Coral cuts and scrapes can be very painful and dangerous if not attended to immediately.
Wash the cut thoroughly with soap, or disinfectant and tepid water then apply an
antiseptic. The local treatment is to squeeze on fresh lime juice after
cleaning. It hurts like crazy, but can be effective. If you are concerned at all by any swelling, redness or pain do not hesiotate to visit the hospital clinic located inland from the College on Aitutaki.
- Diving: Visitors who plan on diving while in the area should learn diving safety, and always have a buddy when entering the lagoon for an extended period of time and for every scuba dive. Do not proceed over the reefline unless you are accompanied by an experienced local guide! ( http://familydoctor.org/156.xml).
- Reef warnings: Visitors are reminded that the beaches are nice but reefs are not standard beaches. They require shoes for walking upon the coral heads and rocks. Failure to robust aqua-shoes can result in severe cuts and bruises. (See coral cuts and scrapes above.) Additionally, the lagoon has stone fish which further strengthen the need for wearing robust footwear in the shallow lagoon or reefline. Remember that coral heads and reefs provide habitat and territory for live marine species. Refrain from walking across the reef to minimize damage to reef ecosystems, or from standing on live coral heads at all times.
- The other thing to watch out for in the water and on the reef are cone shells. They come in different sizes and colors but always the same shape. They are a perfect cone shape. The mollusk inside has a stinger and some of them can literally be deadly. If you find one on the beach chances are it has a hermit crab inside and are safe to pick up. In the water, however, leave them alone. In fact, it's best not to pick up any shells in the water or on the reef. Visitors are prohibited from exporting any shells from the Cook Islands unless they can provide a CITES report obtainable from either Environmental Services or Marine Resources.
- Sea Snakes: There are no sea snakes in the Aitutaki Lagoon. What looks like a sea snake is in fact an eel, or a ribbon fish. If you watch whatever you see for awhile you will see that it never comes up for air. Snakes have lungs. So - no snakes are found on Aitutaki.
- Sun: Visitors are reminded to wear sunscreen, drink plenty of treated water regularly, and to protect themselves from the sun to sunburn and dehydration. The sun can burn even on a cloudy day. Be sure to use sunscreen and wear protective sunglasses at all times. If you go snorkeling consider wearing a t-shirt over a bathing costume. Use waterproof sunscreen, and apply regularly around the back of your neck and the length of your legs.
- Water: Tap water should not be consumed directly, unless it is deemed safe to ingest at a resort. Visitors should either boil for 3 minutes minimum, or drink bottled water.
- Finally: Remember that prevention is better than seeking a prolonged and costly cure! Visitors are reminded to arrive on Aitutaki with adequate travel insurance in the event that an accident or injury can occur on a remote island with only basic medical and surgical services locally available.