Aitutaki was a dream. A 50-minute flight from Rarotonga, the island felt like another world entirely. I wanted to pinch myself flying over the glorious turquoise lagoon surrounded by the prettiest stretch of barrier reef. My three day adventure in and around Aitutaki took me to sandbars, motu and deserted islets, and I couldn't have asked for a more quintessential South Pacific experience. It was perfectly remote with just a handful of tourists, and I felt like I was part of an exclusive club of travelers frolicking around the island. This was the last leg of my Cook Islands trip with the country's tourism board - the perfect end to my adventures in paradise! #lovealittleparadise
Soaking in some serious Cook Islands sunshine while cruising the Aitutaki Lagoon.
Stranded on this private island oasis.
The Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort had the cutest bicycles for circling the island.
Floating in the South Pacific was a dream come true.
I caught the prettiest sunset from this stretch of beach on the resort's island.
Tapuaetai reminded me a bit of the movie Cast Away. Where's Wilson?
The prettiest palm views.
This was my first overwater bungalow, another check off the bucket list!
I found my favorite palm at the resort.
The only overwater bungalows in the Cook Islands.
Morning bicycle rides.
Hey, I found the coconut emoji!
My favorite adventure while on Aututaki was The Vaka Lagoon Cruise. I'd never been to so many postcard perfect islands in such a short time!
It was completely surreal to cruise past my first sandbar.
Morning dip from my overwater bungalow.
I loved waking up to these views of the lagoon every morning.
Last views of the lagoon with Air Rarotonga.
A flight over the South Pacific had been on my bucket list for years. I'd seen all the beautiful aerial photos from the Maldives, French Polynesia and the Cook Islands in my Instagram feed, but this was an itch I'd never been able to scratch. Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I finally boarded my Air Rarotonga fight to Aitutaki. The flight took us to the northern part of the Southern Cook Islands, and every moment of our 50 minutes in the air was magical. The lagoon especially was a sight to see with the water radiating turquoise sparkles, and the surrounding barrier reef looking completely otherworldly.
I was greeted with the warmest Kia Orana by the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort. Located on a private island inside the famous lagoon, the resort was home to the only overwater bungalows in the Cook Islands. It had always been a dream of mine to experience the South Pacific from an overwater bungalow, and the resort was so sweet to host my stay and make that dream come true! The private island was quiet slice of heaven. My bungalow's terrace looked straight out over the water with a private swim ladder for those early morning dips.
After settling into my bungalow, I headed to the western tip of the island to catch my first true sunset of the trip, just before dinner at the resort's Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill. It was beyond spectacular watching the sky become a kaleidoscope of pinks and purples with the dreamiest palm tree silhouettes. The sunset views from the resort blew me away!
I spent my one full day on Aitutaki exploring the island's famous lagoon onboard the The Vaka Cruise. Group tours usually aren't my thing, but this was hands down my favorite adventure in the Cook Islands (big thanks to Captain Ali Maao and his team!). I boarded the cruise from the dock of the resort under blue skies and the brightest sunshine I'd seen the whole the trip. The cruise stopped at several islands throughout the day where guests could sunbathe, swim, snorkel and search for island coconuts. One of my favorite spots in the atoll was Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), home to my first ever sandbar. We were literally sailing through paradise - I'd never seen water so clear and so blue!
When I wasn't cruising the lagoon, I was bicycling my resort's little island. It would have been easy enough to get around on foot, but what fun would that be? I'd claimed the cutest turquoise bicycle (complimentary for all guests!) and cruised through the palms in search of the prettiest loungers, hammocks and sunbathing spots. Seriously, the sweetest end to my trip to the Cook Islands.
Big thank you to Cook Islands Tourism and the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort for hosting my stay and sponsoring this post.
Photos by myself and Anh-Thi Nguyen (@leftietraveler on Instagram).