There are few places in the world where we can say we have had a better welcome than Aitutaki. We were met at the airport by Trip, a lovely lady, who took time from her day to help out a friend. She was just bubbly and full of life, regaling us with tales of the Island and the ‘blessing ceremony’ she had just come from in order to pick us up.
Her friend Lawton was going to meet us at the airport but was delayed because he had a canoe that he had just finished (refinishing) and was holding a blessing ceremony before he put it in the water. Triplet, being the lovely person she is, said that she would go and pick us up as Lawton was busy! In my opinion it is more important to bless the boat than pick me up at the airport! Trip (for short) drove us around to a couple of places to pick up some groceries and then to the beautiful ocean front villa for our stay.
We did meet Lawton the next day and he apologized and explained. But, no apology was needed (as a maritimer myself) as I know the importance of finishing a boat (or in this case a canoe – double hull) and getting it in the water! Lawton is an exceptional man with a vast amount of knowledge about his heritage, his people, and his island. He is a story-teller of the finest degree; everything comes from the heart!
He drove us around town, picked up provisions, we rented a scooter, and he showed us his canoe. Ok, the canoe was the highlight for me. She is beautiful and he did an awesome job restoring her. The canoe is named after his wife [Teremoana…] and her name means – Sea Traveller in Maori language… how beautiful is that?
As we got settled we wasted no time getting wet in the warm waters of the beautiful lagoon at our door step. Once cooled off we decided a meal and a drink were in order. As luck would have it the restaurant next door was open and cooking… so it was an easy choice as to where we would eat. “Puffy’s” bar and grill advertises that they have the ‘best fish and chips’ on the island. So, that is what we ordered and… not a word of a lie! It was good! So, good we will go back for another round before we leave Aitutaki. See my restaurant review titled Puffy’s for the full ‘bite-by-bite’ action.
Aitutaki is a small coral atoll smack dad in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (considered South Pacific) near the equator. Have a look at the map to see where it is located. It is a small island with a BIG reef area! And it is beguilingly beautiful..with white coral sands (made of coral and sea shell that does not get hot in the sun so… no sore footsies) and azure blue waters with rolling turquoise waves. Calling it paradise would be an understatement…but that is about as close as I can come to the perfect description. Check out Google maps here: http://cookislands.southpacific.org/aitutaki/aitutakimap.html
We are staying at a family owned (small property) with five villas right on the ocean front, mere steps to the water. Aretai Beach Villas are 2 bedroom/ 1 bath houses with a full kitchen, living and dining room. See my full review titled ‘Aretai Villas on Aitutaki’. https://www.aretaibeachvillas.com/aretai-villas/welcome_idl=1_idt=8_id=1452_.html
From beautiful, friendly people, to blazing sunsets to wonderful Polynesian food… so far, this is a trip to remember!