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Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

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Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Hi,

We are trying to select a great hotel from which it's easy to snorkel and swim and see underwater life, but we also want to explore other parts of Aitutaki. Is it possible to kayak from the western shore around the Aitutaki Pacific Resort, for example, up to the airport's beaches and down to the southern tip and then into the main lagoon and to some of the motus? We would like to be able to explore the entire coastline on kayaks and have our snorkel gear with us. Is this possible to do? I understand that some areas are too shallow and I don't want to rake my kayak or myself over the coral to get from one place to another. Has anyone done extensive kayaking on Aitutaki's shorelines to know the plausibility of such a plan? Thanks!

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1. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Unfortunately, it's not possible to kayak around Aitutaki. The problem being that along the eastern side of the island, the coral reef is close to shore with abundant coral heads within a very shallow lagoon, subject to exposed and usually rough sea conditions. This area will prevent you continuing from the locality alongside Marine Resources hatchery (east of the unsealed runway) until you reach the Ootu passage which is the entire length of the sealed runway.

From the Pacific Resort you can paddle south between the coral heads and continue around the southern side (widest part of lagoon) then north again to reach Ootu. Be sure that the weather conditions are suitable, and advise your accommodator what your plans are before you set out.

If you to paddle from Ootu, the Samade hires kayaks. Check what their restrictions are about paddling onto the wider lagoon area. Depending on how experienced you are and what the weather is like, with effort you may reach Akaiami and the motu located south of this islet. Yet Akaiami is already a fair distance away from Ootu. This motu is privately owned and occupied (by accommodation) but it's fine if you remain on the beachfront during a paddling break. A useful approach is to paddle in the lee of the motu that are clumped close towards the SE corner.

Also from Ootu you can paddle north onto the shallow upper estuary and around the shoreline of Vaipeka before cutting across from the jetties on the Tautu area of the island directly to Ootu. This is a fine day activity and something I wouldn't attempt when the winds get up and the lagoon roughs up making it difficult to beat a pathway across the lagoon directly to Ootu.

Another option if you are a keen paddler, is to get in touch with the various paddling groups on Aitutaki to enquire about paddling opportunities on their outriggers.

The Pacific Resort has been involved in a coral garden replenishment program for the area immediately alongside this resort. Otherwise for a shoreline snorkel, the lagoon area near the Marine Resources site by the unsealed runway is a good option.

Happy paddling! Kia manuia

Edited: 20 August 2013, 02:21
San Francisco...
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2. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Thank you so much! This answers a lot of our questions. I think then, based on what you say, that we can easily kayak from Pacific Resort going south and then head eastward and into the largest part of the lagoon, correct? Can we kayak easily around in the lagoon without fear of a rip tide taking us out to sea? I am assuming that, based on what the lagoon looks like, that most of it is very safe for paddling and the distances do not appear to be too substantial. As long as the weather is nice, we should be able to kayak from Pacific Resort into the lagoon and back, right? Thank you! Mark

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3. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

There are passages in the reef that can have a fairly strong current going in and out. It's best not to kayak too close to the reef. The lagoon is triangular in shape and each side is approximately 15 K long (9 miles). As was mentioned by Frangipani it is important that you let people know where you are going and how long you are going to be. The weather can change quickly so you need to be prepared. Be sure to have plenty of water and sun screen.

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4. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Thank you! So, pardon me for asking but by "reef," you are referring to the outer, larger perimeter of the island and the lagoon, right? If I stay close to shore of the main island, then I should be ok, right? But, upon hearing your descriptions of the distances, it sounds like a lot father than I realized. Although we are able bodied, maybe we are not fit enough to make a trip from Pacific Resort around the lower lobe of the island and into the larger lagoon. Is it easier to just walk to a kayaker on the lagoon and rent something from them and then spend the day as we wish and walk back? We can carry our snorkel gear with us. Thank you for the reminder on the sunscreen. We will have lots and UV protecting clothing, too. Thank you so much! Maitutaki. Mark in LA, CA

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5. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Hi Mark,

By reefline I refer to the separation between lagoon area and ocean which is enfringed by a coral reef, and which denotes changes between the shallower depth of the lagoon and the dropoff into deep water. So long as you hug the main island's shoreline you'll be OK to stay away from current action due to the outgoing tide. The lagoon water is reasonably shallow close to the main island; especially around the southern tip the substrate becomes quite muddy.

Samade at Ootu where you can hire kayaks is a distance to walk from the Pacific Resort. The resort retains pushbikes for guest use if you aren't keen on hiring a scooter or car. Ootu is a gorgeous spot with its sandy beachfront, shade trees, several cafes and licenced restaurants and stunning lagoon outlook.

From the Pacific Resort you can paddle south towards the main harbour and reef passage, or north towards the airport more so when the tide is full. When you reach Aitutaki, you will notice a distinct demarcation between the shallower and siltier lagoon area looking south of the resort, contrasted with the deeper but more coral heads lagoon area looking north from the resort. North of the resort you will need to be especially careful not to scrap the living coral if you can possibly avoid this. For this reason I mention full tide being the optimum time to paddle out. The staff at the resort are knowledgeable guides who can point out areas to be mindful off.

Also if you are interested in marine conservation projects around Aitutaki, including the coral garden restoration and clam restocking into the lagoon, you can visit the Marine Resources hatchery located on the road towards the island's golf course. If you are a fly-fisherman, talk with the experts about a bone-fishing expedition on the lagoon when you get there.

Cheers.

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6. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Our best day on Aitutaki was spent kayaking from the Sailing Club just past Samade's to the three uninhabited motu south of the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort. It's a relatively easy paddle to get to Angarei, Ee and Mangere. We are in our early 50's and not exactly athletic, but we had no problems doing the trip, which took about an hour total paddling (slowly) one way. We stayed on the lagoon side of the motu, only saw another single paddler the whole day, and had all three islands to ourselves. There is a fabulous white sand beach along the southwest side of Ee where we lounged around there for a couple of hours and tried our hand at playing "Survivor", managing to open a couple of coconuts. We actually walked along a sandbar to Mangere from there, although it would only have been another 5 minutes in the kayak if we had wanted to paddle over.

We followed the recommendations of the staff at Etu Moana and let them know our trip plans - where we were going and when we planned to return, we took LOTS of water and sunscreen, and turned around before we got tired. We considered continuing south to the next motu, Papau, but estimated it would be at least another 30 minutes one way, so didn't go that far. For anyone in good shape, however, it would probably be do-able unless the wind was blowing.

There's a couple of photos from this trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/89733014@N06/. Of all the amazing times we had on Aitutaki, this kayaking trip was the absolute highlight.

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7. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

When you zoom in on Aitutaki on Google Maps or Google Earth you get very clear images of what Frangipani is writing about above. The reef passages are clearly visible too. You can zoom in pretty close and still have a sharp image that can help you in mapping out your kayak trips. You can very easily locate the Pacific Resort (just go to Google Maps and type "Pacific Resort, Aitutaki" in the search bar.)

Have fun.

Edited: 20 August 2013, 17:29
San Francisco...
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8. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Thank you, fawlty25! This is most excellent feedback and encouragement for us. We are 45/59 and fairly able bodied, but still want to be safe. Thank you! Mark

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9. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Thank you again, frangipani! I wish you could see my plumeria tree that is here in full bloom in Los Angeles. A rare thing for us to enjoy in a non-tropical climate. Thanks so much for your help! Mark

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10. Re: Can we get around Aitutaki on kayaks?

Hi, Chinagazer. Thanks! Yes, I have already begun examining the google Earth images. I used to live in Brussels... the Bascule. The best food ever! Merci/Dank U.