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“Warning: this is a love letter”
Review of Etu Moana

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Etu Moana
Ranked #1 of 10 Hotels in Aitutaki
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 7 May 2011

We recently did a week vacation in the Cook islands, spending three nights in both Rarotonga and Aitutaki. We had been to Rarotonga once before, and did the day trip to Aitutaki. It was on the day trip that we decided we must return and actually stay in Aitutaki, after seeing how beautiful it was. Trip advisor led us to only one conclusion, which was that we must stay at Etu Moana. We booked about 8 months ahead and only two villas were left for our dates, villas 2 and 6. We decided to go with villa 2, more on that later.

FLIGHT
Flying into Aitutaki, we are pretty sure that the left side of the plane is the better side to be on for the amazing views of the lagoon. You can request window seats both of you (i.e. seated on different rows). The wing can get in the way if you’re near the front, so if you can get the back rows that would be ideal. The flight is only 40 mins and hassle free.

CHECKIN
We were greeted warmly at the airport, provided with lovely gorgeous leis, driven thankfully in air conditioned comfort (a change from our time on Rarotonga!) to Etu Moana, and provided with useful local information along the way. On arrival at the property, we were greeted personally by Jo-anne, the owner, and given coconut drinks. Then we were taken around for an orientation of the property by a staff member. We had to wait a couple of mins for something minor to be fixed in our villa, but afterwards we could go in and we were shown around our room. Our bags followed soon after. We were made to feel very welcome. The size of the property is much larger than our impression from the photographs on this website. The distance between the villas was quite substantial, providing good privacy, and the grounds are beautiful.

PROPERTY
The pool was not huge but still lovely to use after a bake in the sun. As others have commented the honesty bar is a great idea, and they provide a recipe book to make your own cocktails. We made a pina colada ourselves and sipped it watching the sunset one evening. Some people have mentioned that the beach is not made out of soft sand, but we definitely had no complaints as it was still squished between the toes very satisfactorily :) With only eight villas and such big grounds, privacy is no problem.

LOCATION
Etu Moana is about 10 mins drive from the airport. It is located on the west side of the island, and has views of the shallow lagoon peppered with lots of coral. If unspoilt views of the blue lagoon without coral are absolutely paramount to you, then maybe the east side properties are a better idea (e.g. Aitutaki lagoon resort and spa). Personally, we were totally happy with our view from Etu Moana. The property is also about 10 mins drive to town, so it is fairly handy. There are food places nearby to Etu Moana, and some further away which are worth it, which we’ll talk about later.

VILLAS
We won’t list everything in the villas because you can find that information easily elsewhere. We just want to touch on a few points. Our villa was a row back from the absolute beachfront villas, and we were perfectly content with its location. Everyone staying on the property was happy with their villa’s location too. The shower is large and excellent, and we particularly liked the scented towels, which were a very nice touch. If you want to cook at home that’s not problem because of the all the utilities supplied. There is no microwave in your own room, so you have to use the one in the honesty bar, which closes quite early at 7:30pm. The bed is large and comfy. The room in a nutshell was great.

LAGOON
Like previous reviewers said, the lagoon in front of Etu Moana is quite shallow. You could walk out a hundred metres and still be only be in waist deep water, if that. There are also a billion sea cucumbers that line the floor of the lagoon. However, there is abundant coral, and the water is very clear, allowing for some snorkelling if you wish to do so. The real snorkelling is to be had on the lagoon trips. Tide times, sunset times, and the weather forecast is all written on a whiteboard at the breakfast area. It is recommended that if you want to do activities in the lagoon, you do them at high tide e.g. snorkelling, kayaking.

BREAKFAST
Breakfast is included in your rate and served in a very nice setting by the pool. Cereal, different breads, yoghurts, a constant supply of freshly cut fruit, and real coffee made to order.

MOSQUITOS
Everywhere on the island, except for maybe Pacific Resort which spray their property, has mosquitos. Do come prepared and take all the necessary measures and precautions in order to avoid being bitten alive. The villas are supplied with mosquito coils. Repellents can be bought at the office too. We always use a 40% DEET product, which we understand some others don’t like because of the ‘toxicity’, but it definitely does the job, as we were only bitten once on Aitutaki due to copious application of the repellent.

OFFICE
The office staff were extremely helpful, knowledgeable and willing whenever we required booking for restaurants or car/scooter hire. We changed our mind on scooters and got a car instead, when they had already sent someone to deliver another scooter as they had ran out, but it was no trouble for them. We are told that they don’t charge commission when doing bookings for you. They would always ring your room for when your pickup arrived, so you didn’t have to wait around for it. If you’re thinking of hiring a scooter but haven’t ridden one before, a staff member will take you out and show you how to use one, and give you a good go to see if you’re comfortable, before you have to decide to rent one or not.

DINING
We were too lazy to write separate reviews for the restaurants we ate at, so we’ll write them here in relation to where Etu Moana is. We feel sorry for the previous reviewer who didn’t realise that there was no restaurant on site. If you are reading this then you probably know better!

Lunch: The garden café is just 2 mins walk turning right when leaving the property. Open for lunch (only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), afternoon tea, and an organic food market. We had a perfectly nice lunch there one day. The tuna there was the best we had on the whole trip, and the lemonade was gorgeous.

Koru café is at the eastern point of the island, where Samade on the beach and the Boat shed restaurant are. We drove there using our rental car. Our lunch was absolutely faultless. The highlight was the special that my partner had, which was the garlic chilli prawns. Our lunch was topped off by a deliciously sinful warm chocolate cake. We thought this was definitely the best place to have lunch on the island, which Jo-anne and another couple we met echoed.

Dinner: Our first dinner was at Tupuna’s café, which is inland and a distance from Etu Moana. There is a shuttle service for a very reasonable price, all organised by the office. In short we were disappointed with our meals. For instance, we both ordered the same dish for our main but received two totally different looking and tasting meals. We would like to note that we are by no means picky eaters, but we thought even this was strange. We found out later that Tupuna herself was away at the time, and apparently the café has a few problems whenever she’s away. Other people dining on the same night (we were all on the same van and got to know each other) had very mixed experiences as well. We probably wouldn’t recommend going to the café if you knew Tupuna wasn’t there at the time.

Our second dinner was at the Boat Shed restaurant, which was a nice setting close to the lagoon with a nice breeze. Service was excellent, and the food was good. We felt this was worth the taxi ride

Our last dinner was at the Pacific Resort which we drove to. This was easily our best dinner of the trip, and we’d highly recommend dining here. It was slightly more expensive than any other place we had dined at. The restaurant had a wonderful setting, and gorgeous views out to the lagoon. Service was very professional here, and what you’d expect from any fine restaurant. Our food was superb and beautifully presented.

LAGOON CRUISES
Simply put, the best reason to come to Aitutaki is to go on the lagoon cruises. The water, motus and snorkelling are out of this world. We had done the Bishop’s cruise last year as part of the day trip, which was great. Hence, we decided to go with Teking’s cruise this time. In short, we were totally thrilled with our decision. The snorkelling was by far the best we ever had expericned. We were warned by various people about Teking being cheeky and so forth, but it was all good fun. We’d go again with Teking’s cruise in a heartbeat, but we were only there for three nights. Consider going to more than one lagoon cruise, perhaps with different companies, if you are staying for any length of time. It is something not to be missed.

DEPARTURE
Checkout process was hassle free, and we were all personally farewelled by Jo-anne. Like the other couples, we were flying to Rarotonga around midday, and then to Auckland later on the same day. There was a lovely taxi lady at the airport pickup place. Unfortunately we can’t find her details. We made a deal with her to drop us off at the Saltwater café (which is at the exact opposite side of the island) and she would look after our bags too, and then pick us up later. There are luggage lockers at the airport in Rarotonga but they looked too tall and narrow to fit our bags, and were 20 or 25 dollars for the day (can’t remember which sorry). We were told by Jo-anne that we could store our bags with the firemen near the airport but on arrival we found out they’ve since ceased doing that.

We went to the Saltwater café for lunch, which we highly recommend if you have some time to kill in Rarotonga. The food is gorgeous, service great, and the lagoon opposite is wonderful. It was a perfect end to our trip. Alternatively there is also the Aquarius which was mentioned quite a bit that’s closed to the airport (they have a website), which we can’t comment on.


CONCLUSION
In short, we would never dream of staying in any other place on Aitutaki. The property, our villa, and the service were all excellent. We hope to be able to come back soon. Thank you Jim and Jo-anne for our wonderful stay.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank b_and_d_nz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 7 May 2011

Only stay at Etu moana for 1 day, I wish I spend more time there, The place is well design and well run, the staff are so friendly, they make a point to remember who we are even though we only stay there for 1 day. The room are splendid, it is very spacious and well decorated. We can see the beach from our room but each room are very private also.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank LuvTravelGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2011

I have stayed at Etu Moana with Jim and Joanne on 3 separate vacations and I would not stay anywhere else on Aitutaki. IThis is the place for couples and seclusion. The facilities/landscaping are first class and immaculate. The beach is right in front of your units and the shallow lagoon calls you constantly to swim in its warm clear waters. Kayaks are free and new condition. BBQ by the pool. Snorkel gear is free.
The sunsets on your own beach are quiet and are spectucular due to the unobstructed open view of the sky and the reef/ocean. Palm tree luxury.
The staff have been trained to be so friendly and so efficient yet almost transparent as they go about their duties and arrange all your activities ,restaurants and lagoon tours. The best place in the South Pacfic.

Room Tip: Beachfront or Absolute Beachfront. Just ask Joanne
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank KfromCanadaVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2011

E Tu Moana is perfection and epitomizes thorough planning, delivery and an exemplar for all in the hotel industry. The attention to detail in the decor, perfect hosting and the sheer quietness and magic of this place spoils you. Jim, Jo Anne and staff are the warmest, helpful and generous hosts you can imagine. We were upgraded to a beachfront villa and we were so spoilt. The reviews only skim the surface about this paradise, it is better than even the best review. You have to experience E Tu Moana to understand why they receive the highest praise.

Visit Tuaono's next door if you love organic, fresh food prepared by an absolutely divine chef, Sonja. She is a wonderful host and the star fruit wine is lovely but do try the coconut cake-delicious.

To all the beautiful staff and hosts at E Tu Moana-we will return and stay longer.
To everyone contemplating a stay on Aitutaki I highly recommend E Tu Moana compared to any other offerings.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Matarikitraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2011

We finished our NZ trip on Aitutaki and had the chance to stay at Etu Moana. The five days we'd spent there were definitely the best days during the one and a half month trip. It was simply wonderful. Perfect hotel, felt like being at home. They'd thought of ALL the smallest details. The garden is amazing, full of flowers. The villa is really beautiful, perfectly clean, peaceful and practical. Kayaking in front of the villas makes possible to see corals and plenty of fish even without snorkeling. You can see the sunset directly from your bed if you book beachfront villas. The stuff is really friendly and helpful. They can organise everything for you.
In such a place, you cannot wish more than staying there a bit longer than booked. We felt like being in paradise and we hope to return there again; that time for a bit longer.
Viki&Javi

PS: don't forget the NoBite

Room Tip: beachfront villas must be a great experience
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  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Vikimuc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2011

We can't say enough great things about Etu Moana, from the warm, friendly, welcoming and hospitable staff to the high standard of the villa's and immaculate gardens. What a beautiful location, right on the beach with a stunning view of the picturesque lagoon.

We had a warm welcome with a neck ei of flowers, coconut drink, and pickup from the airport despite the cold and wet weather. The staff provided great recommendations on where to eat and activities to do on the Island. Very, very pleasant (included) breakfast every morning next to the swimming pool. On a couple of occasions we missed breakfast but the staff went out of their way to bring some to our villa for us. We met some great people staying there too during our Lagoon Cruise with TeKing (another great recommendation).

We were in Villa 4 - loved it.

Thanks heaps.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank robynwong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2011

We booked Etu Moana for the second half of our Honeymoon after seeing the excellent reviews here on Trip Advisor and we are so glad we did!
The property is absolutely beautiful, full of flowers and trees and the villas are so private.
We were in Villa 6 and we loved it.

The staff are all so friendly with ready smiles. We enjoyed having breakfast by the pool and the honesty bar is a great concept! We loved being able to create our own cocktails!

I would highly recommend this resort to anyone traveling to Aitutaki - perfect for couples and honeymooners!

Room Tip: We loved being in Villa 6, it is very private.
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  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank Mrs_Thornhill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Etu Moana

Address: PO Box 123, Cook Islands
Phone Number:
Region: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Aitutaki
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Aitutaki
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Aitutaki
Price Range: £280 - £348 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Etu Moana 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Etu Moana Beach Villas offers ten Polynesian style villas with thatched roofing. The Villas are situated on a beautiful white sandy beach and you have a mesmerizing view of the turquoise lagoon from each Villa. The Villas are all self contained and have a kingsize bed, large covered verandas, and Tasmanian oak floors. The style is crisp and modern. We offer complimentary Tropical breakfast, kayaks, SUP, snorkel equipment, and bicycles. In the rooms are smart TVs with 40+ movies on a hard drive. You are also able to listen to your own music by connecting your phone via bluetooth with a sound bar. In addition we also offer a gift USB card, coconut drink, ei's and airport transfers. The lovely Cook Island staff at Etu Moana are waiting for you! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Etu Moana Aitutaki, South Pacific - Cook Islands
Etu Moana Hotel Aitutaki

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