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