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Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Vancouver, Canada
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Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Kia Orana,

I'll be arriving to Rarotonga at 6:30 am on May 21. Flying out on Jun 2. I am inclined after travelling for 24+ hours to do Rarotonga first rather than get on another plane to Aitutaki. But what do others think? Is there some sort of logic to see the "busier" island to get a better appreciation of Aitutaki? Would the serenity of Aitutaki diminish an appreciation for Raro if Aitutaki were first explored?

The May 21 flight to Aitutaki is 3:30pm so there'd be some "wasted" hours between landing in Raro and waiting to fly out to Aitutaki (are there lockers at the airport to leave my luggage so I could cruise the island for the day and come back to the airport?)

I'm all about making the most of the ground time I'll have in the Cooks. Also, what split would others recommend between Raro and Aitutaki? I'm thinking 3 nights Raro, 8 nights Aitutaki, 1 night Raro to be sure I'll be departing on time on Jun 2. Is that too unbalanced given that the activities I plan on Raro are the Cross-Island walk, diving, snorkeling, and hanging out for a day or two at the motus in Muri? I figure island night, deep-sea fishing, and a lagoon tour will be an equal or better experience on Aitutaki.

Or would 3, 7, 2 night split be better so that last day in Raro is not spent obsessing about departure preparations but still part of my vacation. (What I mean is if I have just the last night in Raro on its own, it would end up being about prepping for departure and not part of the trip but if I allot the last 2 nights, then the last 3 days are still in my mind a part of the vacation.)

A few questions on Aitutaki:

If staying at Paradise Cove, what is in the immediate vicinity for restaurants (Puffy's I gather is next door and Blue Nun is close by.) Is walking to Arutanga 20 minutes or less? How's the snorkeling off the beach here? Is it better to book a package with Island Hoppers flight+lodging; Paradise Cove currently has a $120NZ internet special so would it be less expensive to book the internet special and Air Raro separately? Finally, is there a dive map of Aitutaki anywhere. Can't seem to locate one online similar to what can be found for Rarotonga

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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1. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Kia Orana Ceboya, welcome to the Cook Islands forum.

After a long flight across the Pacific, you may well be inclined to stop on Rarotonga before reaching the quieter island. 3 - 7 - 2 split would provide you with more time to plan and prepare for your island explorations and outward journey. Rarotonga has a lot to more to do/see being a bigger and high island, with more services and infrstructure. And you wont want to miss the Saturday morning market on Rarotonga before you fly out! There are more fishing charters based on Raro, if you are especially keen on this activity get along to Avatiu wharf (approx 5 minutes drive from airport or 15 - 20 minutes walk from airport/Aquarius hotel), and the operators in Avana harbour as well.

You can either hire a locker located immediately outside Air Rarotonga's travel centre at the airport or ask their staff if you can store your bags with them until your 3:30pm flight if you decide to head for Aitutki on the first day.

It takes a day or so to adjust to our languid Polynesian pace, so a stopover in Raro is a good place to start. Also you may want to take some snack foods etc with you to Paradise Cove, and the supermarkets on Raro have a good selection available. Paradise Cove is next door to Puffy's, but Arutanga is quite a walk, more like 30 - 40 minutes. The Blue Nun is right next to Arutanga wharf.

Snorkelling off the beach is OK immediately outside PC. Far better snorkelling can be accessed if you walk north of PC to the point where Aitutaki Seaside Villas are located and the beach continues northwards again past Marine resources hatchery and Ranginui's sunset motel units (formerly Esme beach villas).

Check packages at both Island Hopper and Jetsave Travel to enable a more accurate price comparison with the piecemeal flights- accommodation-transfers arrangement. Best domestic package prices are sold a week out from date of travel, with island Hopper coming in at the lowest prices. Also contact Air Rarotonga to see what they can offer you.

For maps and information on Aitutaki have a look around the www.aitutaki-accommodations.com site. Also, http://www.ck mentions diving for enthusiasts on their site as well.

Happy planning - kia manuia.

Aitutaki, Cook...
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for Aitutaki
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2. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Kia Orana Ceboya, You are correct that Puffys is next to Paradise Cove but the Blue Nun is not. Tamanu Beach Resort and Tauono's Garden Cafe are closer than the Blue Nun. Also the Blue Nun isn't open all the time.

The best snorkeling is north of Paradise Cove off the beach at the Marine Resource Center but there is coral off the beach at Paradise.

Check with Aitutaki Scuba scuba@aitutaki.net.ck about dive locations.

There is no public transportation on Aitutaki so a motor bike or car rental is advised. Also Rino's rents bicycles.

Since I live on Aitutaki, I am biased about how long to visit here. If it were me I would spend the entire time here. But as I said I'm biased. :-)

A couple of other recommendations for meals are the Boat Shed and the Koru Cafe both at the south end of the runway in Ootu.

As far a bookings go you will have to check on line but usually packages are cheaper than booking separately.

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3. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

You are making a very short stay for traveling so far.

Been to both Aitutaki and Rarotonga and when I plan my next trip I will stay 21 days in Aitutaki and 3 days in Rarotonga.

Nothing wrong with Rarotonga.

But that is just because I love Aitutaki so much.

New South Wales...
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for Rarotonga
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4. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Ceboya, You mentioned diving in Rarotonga, when deciding the split don't forget to take into account the recommended "no fly time" after dives.

Salzburg, Austria
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5. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

I would stay in Raro first. We did 3 nights Raro, 3 nights Aitutaki, 3 nights Raro, and while Raro is beautiful, Aitutaki beats it easily. That's why I would see beautiful Raro first and mindblowingly beautiful Aitutaki afterwards :)

Austin, Texas
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6. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

I enjoyed our time on Raro but if we went back it would be to spend the whole time on Aitutaki. We just couldn't get enough of our time on the motus there.

Portola Valley...
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7. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Just read your post about loving Aitutaki! I am headed there next week with my husband and 18 & 11 yr old kids.. Our first visit! We will spend 7 ights there and 5 nights in Raro. I am busily doing last minute research on what activities, sights, dining experiences are not to be missed. Can you please let me know what you enjoyed most? We are an active, outdoorsy type of family. Thanks. Sylvia

PS. I am feeling a bit nervous about not having enough to do. Do I really need to slow down and relax!?

Aitutaki, Cook...
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8. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

Your timing to visit Aitutaki is perfect. All next week 10th -14th there will be an international kite boarding competition with some of top kite surfers in the world attending. There will be boats to take visitors out to the motus where the competition is taking place and Friday night will be a big celebratory night market and award ceremony at the main wharf. I think you will find plenty to do but Aitutaki is all about slowing down and relaxing.

9. Re: Rarotonga / Aitutaki. Which first?

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