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Accueil » Cook islands. Once part of the British Empire, and now a self-governing country in free association with New Zealand, the Cook Islands have maintained their Polynesian identity. From the various island dialects, all originating from the old Maori Maohi in Tahitian language, to the arts and crafts, dancing and performing arts, the traditional culture and customs have remained strong. This idyllic group of 15 islands, divided between the Northern and Southern Cook Islands, was named in honour of Captain James Cook, who visited in the late 18th Century.
The tiny island of Aitutaki is part of the Cook Islands groupan island nation sitting pretty in the expansive Pacific Ocean. While you can certainly jump in your hotel pool and no doubt order a cocktail or two, the vibe of Aitutaki extends way beyond that of your typical tropical destination. From the moment I stepped off my tiny Air Rarotonga flight and onto the runway, I felt the sense of community.
The bungalow that awaited me at Tamanu Beach was exactly what I had envisioned. A stilted wooden hut with a thatched roof, wide open balcony and views toward the aqua blue waters of the lagoon, not to mention beautiful hibiscus flowers scattered throughout the room. I base it almost completely on photographs and reviews so when I saw the images of Tamanu Beach, I knew it was the place for me.
Eagerly wanting to see the lagoon a little closer, I ventured down to the beach away from the bungalow and wandered along barefoot with not another sole in sight…bliss. Not only were there no people, there were no deck chairs, no cafes, no watersport vendors, absolutely nothing…just palm trees dripping over the sand and the sound of little waves crashing on the fringing reef at the edge of the lagoon.
The excitement in her voice had me hooked and I jumped at the chance to take my first scooter ride on Aitutaki too. Well…my excitement was quickly dampened by the tiny fact that I actually had to be good at driving a scooter before I would feel the wind in my hair and the thrill of the ride. Barely managing to steer straight because my maximum speed was 10kmph I wobbled along the road trying to convince myself it was fun and that going slow just meant I could soak up the scenery.
A little tip for the market, arrive after 9am. Aitutaki Lagoon is the place of dreams and has a collection of idyllic islands dotted within its reef border. I could already see underwater without even reaching for my goggles but the water was just begging to be photographed so I went exploring with my Nikon D safely protected in its Aquatech Sport Housing.
It was so clear my mind went into overload thinking of the photography possibilities and I was almost overwhelmed at just how picture perfect the scene was. Getting back to the main island of Aitutaki for dinner, I took a bicycle much faster than my scootering and rode a few kilometres down the road to Uncle Binos takeaway which I had heard was great local grub and is cooked right out of his home kitchen. Arriving at 6pm right on opening according to the I again learnt my lesson about being on island time and found I had to fill an hour while I waited for it to actually open.
Happily filling in time by photographing the sunset at a nearby football field which just so happened to overlook a palm fringed beach, I soon had my takeaway burger tucked in m satchel and peddled back to save and edit the days oodles of images. My advice though, grab yourself a private hire boat with Bishops Cruises and beat the crowds to One Foot Island or Honeymoon Island, having these locations to yourself is such a special experience!
Destination: aitutaki, cook islands
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