Aitutaki (18.02sq.km/11.17sq.mi) - which is almost an atoll - is a popular holiday island, particularly for day or longer excursions from Rarotonga. It consists of a main island of deeply weathered basalt (area 16.8sq.km/10.41sq.mi), which is surrounded by a wide lagoon. Its highest hill is Maungapu (124m/406ft). The lagoon, which at many points is shallow, is surrounded by a triangular barrier reef marking the outline of the volcano that rises from a depth of 4000m/13120ft below sea level.
Aitutaki's main attraction is the beautiful large lagoon with clear turquoise water. Twenty-one small islands (motu) line the outer edge of the lagoon, some of which can be visited on lagoon cruises or tours.
Tapuaetai (One Foot Island)
Tapuaetai, or One Foot Island, as it is more commonly known, is the most visited motu. It is famous for it's beautiful white sand beach and shallow lagoon which stretches to neighboring Tekopua. There is no coral here and it is not a good snorkeling area.
Akaiami was the terminus for the old TEAL flying boats which landed in the lagoon in the 1950s. A small, rustic resort has recently been built on the foundations of the original terminal. The old wharf is still in place.
Arutanga, Cook Islands
Arutanga is the main settlement on Aitutaki. Of interest in the town is the 1828 CICC church, the oldest in the Cook Islands. There are a few craft stores in town and a pleasant harbor front area.
New Jerusalem, built in the 1990s, is a small settlement of Free Church members. All of the buildings are constructed of native materials in old style Cook Islands architecture.
Maungapu is the highest point on Aitutaki, at 124m/406ft. A short hike leads to the top offering fine views over the lagoon and island.
Rapota, a small motu near the southeast corner of the lagoon, once housed a leper colony.