Cook Islands // Aitutaki with kids

Te Vaka on Aitutaki Lagoon.

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.

Aitutaki from the air

The island of Aitutaki is tiny and in minutes of landing we’re on a ferry to the insanely pretty Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa.

Raffles at Aitutaki Beach Resortthe ferry at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort

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.

Raffles blows the conch at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort

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.

log drum lessons at Aitutaki Lagoon ResortLong 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.

Sugarpuff loves her coconut

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.

Aitutaki Plantations

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.

Aitutaki Marae

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.

Beautiful Aitutaki

Back at the resort there is till plenty of time for us to frolic about in the irresistible water before dinner.

Aitutaki Lagoon

Sugarpuff in the lagoon at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & SpaRaffles on AitutakiDinner 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.

Poke, Cook IslandsIt’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

Raffles enjoying the beautiful blue of Aitutaki LagoonDangling 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.

snorkelling in Aitutaki

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).

Te Vaka Lagoon Cruises Aitutaki

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.

Child dancing at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort

Raffles selects a splendid looking specimen of crabhood and is invited to start the race.

crab racing at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort

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.

kids at sunset, Aitutaki

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.

30 Comments on Cook Islands // Aitutaki with kids

  1. Mum-2-3
    March 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm (9 years ago)

    I have been to Raratonga but not to Aitutaki. Looks so beautiful I wish I had.

  2. The Mummy Scripts
    March 21, 2013 at 12:45 am (9 years ago)

    It looks absolutely stunning! Feeling quite jealous as I look out my window at greyness! x

      March 21, 2013 at 8:01 am (9 years ago)

      It really is. If it’s any consolation it’s grey looking out our window now too. I miss Aittutaki!

  3. Lydia C. Lee
    March 22, 2013 at 6:39 am (9 years ago)

    Looks so lovely. And I have to say, I don’t mind an island history with a bit of cannibalism…makes it all the more interesting. That meat and root vege dish looks exactly the same as a traditional dish in Fiji. Funny how they’re not really that close to each other but clearly people travelled between (or a little collective thinking happened)

      March 22, 2013 at 9:58 am (9 years ago)

      The history is what makes it so good! I think the region share many dishes in common. Ike Mata, for example, which we ate by the bucket load in the Cooks has variation is nearly every Pacific Island. Which is good news, cos we love it! 🙂

  4. Penny
    March 22, 2013 at 7:27 am (9 years ago)

    I’m rather jealous! I’m in need of a holiday – Can moving house technically be a holiday once you’ve moved in? That’s probably the closest holiday I’ll get for a while. At least out new house back onto a beautiful nature reserve, so we can just walk out the back fence and feel like we are in another world.

    You look like you’re have the time of your life. The images are so, so stunning!

      March 22, 2013 at 10:00 am (9 years ago)

      Thanks Penny, we did have a lot of fun! Your location sounds pretty lovely! Almost like being on hols every day! 🙂

  5. Cooker and a Looker
    March 22, 2013 at 8:19 am (9 years ago)

    It sounds fabulous and you describe it so wonderfully. The Cook Islands have been on my wish list for ages. They’ve just moved up a few rungs!

      March 22, 2013 at 9:59 am (9 years ago)

      It’s amazing. And it’s much easier to get there now. Direct flights plus great deals at the moment. 🙂

  6. Carla
    March 22, 2013 at 11:02 am (9 years ago)

    Wow!!! What a beautiful place! Looks idyllic!

  7. Kim
    March 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm (9 years ago)

    Oh that water. I’m dreaming of an escape. DESPERATELY. It just looks like magic.

      March 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm (9 years ago)

      Magic is a great word to describe the Cook Islands. 🙂

  8. Rachel
    March 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm (9 years ago)

    I think you may have given me serious consideration for our next family holiday. Gorgeous photos of the water and your cute little people having fun have sealed the deal!

      March 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm (9 years ago)

      I say go! It’s like a giant living postcard. And the locals are awesome 🙂

  9. Lara @ This Charming Mum
    March 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm (9 years ago)

    Ridiculously pretty indeed! I’ve been to a few Pacific nations but never the Cook Islands. Thanks for sharing these beautiful inviting pics.

      March 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks for visiting and the kind words, Laura. 🙂

  10. Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel
    March 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm (9 years ago)

    Tropical island adventure! Fantastic, and it looks completely gorgeous. Really enjoyed some armchair travelling with you. I’m an Out + About subscriber, lovely to meet you online too.

      March 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks Seana. Now you’ve met me in both my incarnations! Long term fan of your site too 🙂

  11. martine@themodernparent
    March 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm (9 years ago)

    Great pics. Looking for a family destination for the family, maybe I should be checking this out??

      March 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm (9 years ago)

      Definitely. It’s a great spot for kids. The Cook Islanders love them and there is plenty to keep them entertained. 🙂

  12. rhian @melbs
    March 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm (9 years ago)

    That looks like an amazing time. Your kids certainly look like they enjoyed it too. 🙂

  13. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    March 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm (9 years ago)

    There’s so much to love in this post. Sugarpuff knocking back three coconuts made me laugh out loud! 😛

      March 23, 2013 at 7:52 am (9 years ago)

      She was kinda addicted! We were on the verge of having to stage an intervention. 😉

  14. LaVagabonde
    March 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm (9 years ago)

    Ah, the South Pacific.

  15. Twinkle in the Eye
    March 23, 2013 at 1:19 pm (9 years ago)

    What a piece of paradise! That’s gone firmly on my to-do list 🙂

  16. kim magee
    January 17, 2019 at 5:49 pm (3 years ago)

    sadly another family who cant go back to The Aitutaki lagoon resort and spa, as you have kids 🙁

    • Aleney de Winter
      January 17, 2019 at 7:26 pm (3 years ago)

      sad that it is no longer family friendly


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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