Aitutaki, Cook Islands


Aitutaki, Cook Islands

It is believed that this island was settled around 900 AD by legendary Polynesian explorer Ru. Today, the island is a wealth of cultural tradition, with inhabitants keeping their history alive through song, dance, legends and crafts. If outdoor pursuits are more your speed, consider taking the easy hike to the highest peak on the island, Maunga Pu, where you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views.

Aitutaki Discovery Safari
3.5 Hours - $99

Visit ancient sacred grounds, or marae, such as Are Mango, where ancient rituals and sacrifices were performed, and learn how ancient Polynesian warriors defended their island with the help of supernatural beings.

Depart from the pier and head toward the coastal village of Nikaupara. Stop briefly at Vainamu, a freshwater pond once used as a gathering place by the young people of the island. Continue along to the inland village of Tautu, stopping at the ancient temple grounds of Are Mango and the Poatu o Rae - the ancient throne of Rae, reputed to have been the strongest man on Aitutaki. Your guide will tell of his legends, such as tales of how how warriors of old voyaged long distances to experience the music and drums of the Are Karioi - the House of Entertainment where the "Yuppies" of Polynesia gathered for what was reported a marathon of dancing and courtship.

After a short ride through plantations, your tour will head toward the top of Mount Piraki where you will see some of the best views of the coastal village of Amuri and Arutanga. There, you will also view the remains of a World War II bunker built by the Americans during their time on the island.

From Piraki, you will head to the highest peak on the island, Maunga Pu. The ride to the very top is exhilarating, and the view that awaits you there is breathtaking: a panoramic view of the island and its magnificent lagoon.

This tour is more than just a means of reaching the top of Aitutaki's highest mountain without hard work, however. It is an opportunity to get to some of Aitutaki's best kept secret spots. Even for locals living on Aitutaki, places like the Poatu o Rae (the rock of Rae) and the Marae Are Mango (the house of Sharks) are places they hear about but never actually visit. Yet, they are the places that molded what Aitutaki is today.

Following your tour, you will be transferred back to the pier.

Please note: Some sites are difficult to get to but well worth the effort. Guests are requested to wear comfortable walking shoes, protection from the sun and to bring insect repellent.

Excursion Code:
Circle Island Tour
2.5 Hours - $89

Your around-the-island drive will take you past several of the island's villages. You'll visit a marae (sacred Polynesian temple grounds) site. Pass through plantations of various crops grown here on Aitutaki. Learn about the island's myths and legends while taking in its beautiful scenery. Aitutaki has a unique geographical makeup - the island is a volcanic atoll with the typical volcanic peaks in the center of the island with the encircling coral reef ringed by the off shore islands (motus) and the lagoon in the center.

The Circle Island Tour is a great way to see the island and meet the locals. Visit the inland villages of Tautu Vaipae and Vaipeka, drive along the coast and see the remnants of the Copra Production Facility, and see how the people of this tiny idyllic island live. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet the locals and take photographs along the way.

Excursion Code:
Lagoon Cruise with Beach Break
6 Hours - $159

Aitutaki's deep-blue lagoon is considered to be one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. Part volcanic and part atoll, the island's geographical structure makes this lagoon unique. This tour gives you the opportunity to experience the best Aitutaki has to offer in the short time available during your visit.

Board your boat (types and sizes vary) and cruise through the lagoon, visiting offshore motus. At One Foot Island, you'll stop for a lunch of barbequed fish, salads, and fresh fruit. After lunch, enjoy approximately 2 hours to relax or snorkel.

Please note: Wear your swimsuit under a cover up and reef shoes, protect yourself from the sun, and bring snorkeling equipment and a towel from the ship. This boat tour involves a wet landing. There is a cash bar on the island for those who wish to purchase beverages. Guests wishing to obtain a One Foot Island stamp should bring their passports with them. There is a fee of USD $2 for the stamp.

Excursion Code:
Punarei Village Cultural Tour
3.5 Hours - $115

This excursion is a recent innovation in the domain of eco/cultural tourism on Aitutaki Island; an island rich in history, culture and living traditions.

Join your two guides Mark and Ngaa as they take you on an adventure into the past and present culture of Aitutaki. Mark, an archaeologist had undertaken excavations and research on the island on marae temples with Ngaa, his assistant. This ancient culture will be revealed to you in the first part of your excursion where you will be driven in your transport vehicle to the Paengaariki marae temple where most of Mark's work has been done. There, discover the results of the excavations and learn about the ancient religious practices enacted in the past. See the large stones upright, representing ancestors, the sacred sub-incision stone to initiate young boys into manhood and the tribal gathering ground or 'koutu'. Hear the stories of the great warrior chiefs associated with this place. You will also be able to see the rare endemic lorikeet of the island the kuramo'o that is ultramarine blue! Then drive to the highest point of the island Mauga Pu for scenic shots across the turquoise blue lagoon out to the surrounding coral motu's.

Continue into the interior again to arrive at a traditional Maori village Punarei reconstructed based upon Mark and Ngaa's research to give an authentic image of the past. Be welcomed in the traditional way by the toa warrior and his enlivened oratory dressed in his feather plumed 'pare' war headdress and tapa loincloth brandishing his ironwood spear or ikatuna. Stand upon the 'poaki' or welcoming stone that gives you the right to stand on the land. Traditional dances will be performed to re-enact the arrival of the first ancestor Ru to the island on his double hulled sailing canoe or vaka Nagpuaariki. Enter the 'are nikau or traditional meetinghouse and discover the surviving traditions of Aitutaki. There will be demonstrations of weaving mats and baskets from coconut fronds. Also tapa making for bark-cloth as practiced in days of old; as well as wood carving and tattooing to reveal to you those ancient arts. See the life-sized traditional god or 'tiki' images carved in local tamanu hardwood including the famous atua vaine or Aitutaki 'goddess' with her unique tattoos. Fresh fruits and sweet coconut will be offered to refresh you, all grown in natural ecologically friendly gardens around the site which you can visit as in ancient times.

After visiting the village participating in various activities and taking photos, you will rejoin your transport to be driven back to the wharf at Aratanga village.

Please note: The excursion requires no physical exertion but bring a bottle of water and some insect repellant. Also some money as handicrafts may be for sale in the village.

Excursion Code:
SCUBA 2 Tanks Atua Tane - Certified Divers with Outside Operator
4 Hours - $200

For this 2-tank dive, you will meet at the ship`s marina to pick-up your fins and wetsuits before taking the tender to shore. Once there, you will suit up and gear check before boarding the local dive boat and get ready to head to the dive site that is only five minutes away from the pier. You will be helped with the equipment and do a back roll entry before heading down to about 90 feet for your first dive where you may see some whitetip reef sharks resting on the bottom and large sea turtles. In between the two dives you will be brought back to shore and enjoy some fruits, water and hot drink. After around 45 minutes you will head towards the second dive where you may spot some humphead wrasses, colorful fish, spotted eagles rays and impressively large green sea turtles and ghost coral. For the second dive, depth will be around 60 feet. After the second dive you will sail back to shore.

Available for onboard booking only, cannot pre-reserve, please visit the Dive Desk once onboard, capacity is limited. For more information about our dive programs, visit Price listed is for the 2017 season. In 2018 the new rate will be $215.00.

Excursion Code:
SCUBA Arutanga Passage - Certified Divers - with Outside Operator
2 Hours - $135

You will meet at the ship`s marina to pick-up your fins and wetsuits before taking the tender to shore. Once there, you will suit up and gear check before boarding the local dive boat and get ready to head to the dive site that is only five minutes away from the pier. There, you will be helped with the equipment and do a back roll entry before heading down towards the canyons where you can observe huge green sea turtle resting on the bottom, occasional passage of spotted eagle rays, napoleon wrasse, and emperor angel fish. At about 90 feet a small family of resident white tips are hiding under an outcropping rock. This site only features hard corals.

Available for onboard booking only, cannot pre-reserve, please visit the Dive Desk once onboard, capacity is limited. For more information about our dive program, visit

Excursion Code:
Snorkeling Tour
2 Hours - $89

You will board small boats each seating 10 guests and travel to Motu Maina where you can snorkel and those that wish have the option of visiting the motu. It takes approximately 15 minutes to travel each way, as the boats are very quick. This area has beautiful giant clams and is a marine reserve and is a nesting area of the red tailed tropic birds.

Please note: Wear your swimsuit under a cover up, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and bring fins, snorkels, and towels from the ship. You should also wear reef shoes for swimming. This tour involves a wet landing. There are no restroom stops on this tour.

Excursion Code: