Long before Captain Billy Bligh and his crazy crew of mutineers in the making visited Aitutaki in the soon to be barbecued Bounty, legendary Polynesian warriors were succumbing to the spectacular sight of a lagoon so beautifully blue that it appears to have been painted. In fact, I’m left gaping like a slack-jawed idiot as our flight descends over the lagoon after our short flight from Rarotonga.
The island of Aitutaki is tiny and in minutes of landing we’re on a ferry to the insanely pretty Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa.
On the other side we’re greeted by a “warrior” and the call of his conch. Raffles has a blow but instead of making a trumpeting sound he just leaves the poor warrior with a spittle covered shell. Sorry dude.
We’ve barely checked into our beachfront bungalow and test driven its family-size hammock before the kids are whisked away for a traditional drumming lesson.
Long has our little lunatic loved to make noise and he proves a natural on the pate (log drum), as does Sugarpuff who insists on her own raucous turn before performing a toddler style hula and knocking back her third coconut for the day. I swear the stuff is like baby crack, such is her addiction.
Our hips are still wiggling, and the kids still giggling, when local tour guide Nga Tuanie collects us in his bright yellow four-wheel-drive to explore Aitutaki via a secret network of dirt tracks over the jungle covered hills.
There’s little traffic, besides the odd chook. The kids happily bounce about in the back of the jeep as we drive through plantations dripping with fruit. As we beat away the pterodactyl-size mosquito’s with leafy branches, Nga points out places of interest from WWII bunkers to the sacred site of an ancient marae (a sacred place that served as a ceremonial meeting place for everything from traditional feasts to sacrifices).
This particular marae was the site of some fairly brutal circumcisions that were performed on boys when they came of age.
Mr Eats World flinches when he sees the v-shaped throne of rock where the crude operations took place. Sadly for historians (though not to local 12 year old boys), most of the marae in The Cook Islands were destroyed at the command of Christian missionaries, and their secrets lost.
We return through villages bumping past locals in our jeep as they continue happily about their business but always with a wave and a smile.
Back at the resort there is till plenty of time for us to frolic about in the irresistible water before dinner.
Dinner is a Kaikai (feast) of root crops and meats wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked for hours in an Umu (a type of underground earth oven) until tender.
A dessert of Poke, a traditional Cook Islands dish of sweetened bananas thickened with arrowroot and served in coconut milk, follows.
It’s an alarmingly unattractive glutinous brown mass not dissimilar in appearance to the contents of Sugarpuff’s nappy but, brave souls that we are, decide to brave it and discover a chewy, gluey taste sensation that has me going back for seconds. For Poke that is, not nappy fillings.
The following morning we rouse ourselves sufficiently for some lagoon magic with Te Vaka Lagoon Cruises who collect us from our extremely lovely doorstep
Dangling in the luminous blue from one of the boat’s life rings, Raffles joyful smile dazzles as dozens of butterfly fish surround him, squealing with delight/fear as a turtle pops up for air nearby.
After an on-board lunch of barbecued fresh-caught ocean fish, tropical salad and yet more coconut we head to a small uninhabited motu (islet).
Here we paddle around the clear shallow waters of the island, dodging the thick black and disturbingly phallic sea slugs that dot the water, and snorkel a little more before the sound of the conch signals it’s time to head back to our digs.
Before dinner there is time for crab racing, music and drinks with fellow guests.
Raffles selects a splendid looking specimen of crabhood and is invited to start the race.
We cheer loudly for our crab but he is resoundingly beaten by another wild-eyed crustacean who we suspect has been taking crab steroids.
We’re calling shenanigans on that one and insist they take crustacean urine samples.
Our disappointment is short-lived as we are quickly distracted by the need to rescue another hermit crab that our fearless Sugarpuff is attempting to eat alive.
Over a leisurely dinner we feed her something a little less inclined to bite back and, as the setting sun puts on a magnificent display of colour, quietly dread our morning flight home from this beautiful blue water paradise.