Cook Islands Stopover....Aitutaki or Rarotonga?

Old Aug 5, 18, 9:13 pm
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Cook Islands Stopover....Aitutaki or Rarotonga?

We are stopping over for 3 nights en route to NZ. It's our first visit and it's meant to be a quick look see. At this point, we are spending 3 nights in Aitutaki but I'm now second guessing that decision. Is Aitutaki worth the
extra time to and fro? I know it's subjective, but is it that much nicer in terms of atmosphere, lagoons, etc. or would it be easier to consider staying on Raro. and doing a day trip?
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Old Aug 5, 18, 10:43 pm
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I think Aitutaki is definitely worth the trip. It's simply gorgeous and a special spot. And the plane trip has some amazing views as well.

As for spending 3 nights there, Aitutaki is a very quiet place, it's really all about the natural beauty. Raro has a lot more options for eating, drinking, etc. Some might get bored in Aitutaki, especially if they don't want to snorkel/swim. Although, if you are staying in the resort on Aitutaki it might not be much different than a resort in Raro.

Definitely at least do at least a day trip to Aitutaki, but whether you spend all your time there or not depends on what you are after.
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Old Aug 10, 18, 3:52 am
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I liked the Cook Islands a lot over the course of 3 trips, and it's a great alternative for a Tahiti-like experience at half the cost. If you look at the aerial views you can see why Aitutaki is often compared to Bora Bora. I stayed at a guesthouse and the drinking water was collected rainwater. Also rented a small motorbike, which is great for the low-traffic road. Ootu Beach, facing the lagoon, was really wonderful, as was the boat daytrip to One Foot Island and through the reef gap to the open ocean and back.

IIRC there were thrice-weekly "Island Nights" at one of the hotels (buffet + dance show), which is a useful thing to have. Otherwise not much nightlife but you can see lots of stars. A really special place.

Rarotonga, like Tahiti, is a high island, and a little larger and more populous. Riding a bike around was still very do-able and enjoyable. There are a few good beaches and more restaurant and island-night choices, and even some nightlife on weekends though the police can be reminiscent of small southern U.S. towns as the night goes on. If it were in Hawaii, though, it'd be somewhere between Molokai and Kauai as far as being laid-back.

The climate is really ideal and on similar latitude to Tahiti, and I think you can do without air-con just like that's possible in Hawaii. For me that was the difference between $200/night and about $35/night.

Generally I think it's been a bit like Easter Island in that there's effectively one carrier from most places and it's a region that's under-touristed anyway (with the Cooks not along the direct flight path from the U.S. to Australiz or NZ in the way that Fiji is). That's kept the visitor numbers low and, like IPC, there isn't much discounting. So I'd definitely take the opportunity to go.

Last edited by RustyC; Aug 10, 18 at 4:03 am
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Old Aug 10, 18, 5:49 am
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Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
even some nightlife on weekends though the police can be reminiscent of small southern U.S. towns as the night goes on.
I grew up in a small town in Alabama and I don't know what this means. Not sure how anyone else is meant to take it! Otherwise I quite agree with your comments on the Cooks.
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Old Aug 10, 18, 8:29 am
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Thanks, everyone. We decided to stay on Aitutaki and take a round Rarotonga drive before we leave for NZ. My fear is that we would regret not staying there once we saw it. Nightlife does not matter to us
and we are eager to see a new version of Bora Bora, an island that has become too developed for our taste.
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Old Aug 15, 18, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
I grew up in a small town in Alabama and I don't know what this means. Not sure how anyone else is meant to take it! Otherwise I quite agree with your comments on the Cooks.
It means they keep a really tight lid on things...visible presence, enforcing early closings, lots of pretextual stopping of cars for very minor things like turning into the wrong lane but they're really fishing for DUIs, etc. It's what happens when church groups can run the city government, or a sheriff is convinced there's a crime epidemic and he's got to stop it. They're just two steps from prohibition and one from being totally dry.

Towns like that are known for kids trying to get out (college if affordable, Army for last resort) and then not coming back except to visit parents on holidays. If you really train your eyes and ears you can pick up the vibe.
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Old Aug 15, 18, 2:20 am
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Originally Posted by Mickidon View Post
Thanks, everyone. We decided to stay on Aitutaki and take a round Rarotonga drive before we leave for NZ. My fear is that we would regret not staying there once we saw it. Nightlife does not matter to us
and we are eager to see a new version of Bora Bora, an island that has become too developed for our taste.
Good choice! Since doing my earlier post I saw that Instagram vlogger/influencer/free-comp sponge Lisa Linh had gone there and posted a lot of photos: here.
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