Aitutaki is one of the Cook Islands, north of Rarotonga. It has a population of approximately 2,000. The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands (including Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua).

The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki's important features including a boat passage through the barrier reef allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga. Towards the south of the side is a small break in the barrier reef, allowing access for small boats to the lagoon which covers most of the southern part of the triangle. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island. Its fertile volcanic soil provide tropical fruits and vegetables. Two of Aitutaki's 15 islets (motus) are also volcanic. The rest are made of coral.

Polynesians probably first settled Aitutaki around AD 900. The first known European contact was with Captain Bligh and the crew of the HMS Bounty when they discovered Aitutaki on April 11, 1789, prior to the infamous mutiny.

In 1942 New Zealand and American forces were stationed on the island, building the two-way airstrip that can be seen today. This airport, and one on the northernmost Penrhyn Island, were to be used as bases by the Allies during World War II. The first aircraft, an American light bomber, landed on November 22, 1942. When the war ended some of the servicemen remained and married the locals.

During the 1950s Aitutaki's lagoon was used as a stopover for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) flying boats on the famous Coral Route. The TEAL 'airport' for Cook Islands was on Motu Akaiami in Aitutaki lagoon. The remnants of the old jetty can still be seen. Motu in the local language-meaning islet. Here the giant Solents landed and then set anchor a short distance off the motu. A clinker built lighter would then ferry passengers to the small wharf and from there they would walk to the 'Terminal' for a meal and refreshments while the plane was re-fuelled. Today, a small resort has been built on the exact spot where the original TEAL terminal stood. The Maroro Village is a link to the past when the well to do of the 1950's, including movie stars such as John Wayne, Carrie Grant and the like, stopped for a few hours or even overnight while the planes were serviced, or waiting for weather to clear. Aitutaki has been described as easily the most desirable destination in the South Seas. These operations ceased in 1960, and the only reminder are the remains of the purpose-built jetty on Akaiami. The flying boat 'Aranui', which was part of this service, is now on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand.

Two of Aitutaki's motus (small islands), Rapota and Moturakau, were the locations of the first series of the UK reality television program Shipwrecked in 2000.

There is an interesting tale during WW1 when a German raider, the Sea Adler, was wreck in French Polynesia, and its Captain, Von Lukner, journeyed as far as Fiji in an open small boat to try to capture another ship to use as his raider. En route he stopped at Aitutaki, convinced the locals that they were rowing the Pacific for a bet, obtained supplies and then carried on. He eventyally did reach Fiji, but was captured there when his story was not believed. Von Luckner, was taken to a prison camp in New Zealand, escaped in the commandants launch, captured a larger ship, but was finally caught while attempting to re-provision on the Kermadoc Islands

Honeymoon Island and One Foot Island

Our first stop on Aitutaki was Maina or Honeymoon Island, one of 22 islands that make up the Aitutaki atoll. It is located at the southwestern extreme of Aitutaki Lagoon, five kilometres to the southwest of the main island of Aitutaki. In front of Maina island stands the beautiful sandbar known as "Honeymoon Island" named after a Canadian couple who decided to get married here.The sand is incredibly white and the water is transparent blue. The sandbar is also home (for a few months a year) of a rare single red feather bird who comes on the island to lay eggs

Tapuaeta’i (One Foot Island) is perhaps the best-known motu, fringed by white beaches and divided from its neighbour, Tekopua, by a deepwater channel that’s teeming with tropical fish.We had lunch on this little island, and walked all the way round it. The tourist board certainly push this island. And there is a line of trees planted by various prime ministers after an International conference

On the way back to the ship we tried walking into the town on the main island to see if we could spot where we stayed years ago, but the distance proved too great in the time available. I did however manage to buy an extremely colourful shirt - I thought it very nice, and indeed many people commented on it when I wore it on board ship, but Chris had her doubts on its suitability

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On to Bora Bora

South Seas Holiday