Aitutaki has been described as the world’s most beautiful island.
Its remote beauty is such that it has been selected to host Survivor TV programs.
The island is north of the most populated island of the Cook group, Rarotonga.
The main village is Arutanga, on the west side. The overall population is 2000.
Aitutaki has a maximum elevation of 123m, a hill called Maunga Pu.
The land area of the atoll is 18km2.
The barrier reef forms a triangle with sides 12km long, with a lagoon area of more than 55km2.
The southern barrier reef edge is mostly below the sea.
The east side includes a string of small islands, such as Mangere, Akaiami and Tekopua.
The western side of the atoll has a boat passage through the barrier reef, allowing for anchorage close to Arutanga.
The main island and two of Aitutaki’s 15 islets are volcanic. The other islands are made of coral.
Aitutaki Airport is located close to the triangle’s northern point.
There is an area suitable to land flying boats in the southeastern part of the lagoon.
Polynesians first settled Aitutaki around AD900.
The first known European contact was with Captain Bligh and the crew of the HMS Bounty when they also arrived in Aitutaki on April 11, 1789, prior to the infamous mutiny.
Aitutaki was the first of the Cook Islands to accept Christianity, after a missionary visited in 1821.
In 1942 Allied forces were stationed on the island, building the airstrip seen today.
When the war ended some servicemen stayed and married locals.
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.
In 2006, the island was used for the US TV program Survivor: Cook Islands. Surrounding islands were used for tribal camps and crew locations. One of the tribes was named Aitutaki (or ‘Aitu’) after the island.
Then, not long afterwards, Shipwrecked returned again, with Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands 2006.
Aitutaki is famous for its turquoise central lagoon, uninhabited islands and palm-fringed beaches.
It has the only over-water bungalow accommodation in the Cook Islands.
Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), a small islet in the south-east of the lagoon, is often said to be the most important attraction. It is regarded as providing the visitor with the best views of the Aitutaki lagoon.
The trip to this island is the most frequented trip available on Aitutaki.
Air Rarotonga offers daily flights and a day tour from Rarotonga.