Location: 230 Kilometres North of Rarotonga
Time: 45 Minute flight from Rarotonga
This Almost Atoll like island is really something else! Nominated in 2010 as the worlds beautiful island by Tony Wheeler the founder of "The Lonely Planet Guide" it’s famous for its Turquoise central lagoon and un inhabited islands with palm fringed beach's. It's almost like it's been caught in a time warp having been spared from what mass tourism and the spoilings of a civilised world can bring.... yes that's right no McDonalds on this island chaps... this is truly an island that put you in another world and relaxed beyond belief.
Aitutaki Features a main island Arutanga which it's highest point is 123 Meters above sea level which is surrounded by a number of sister islands (known as motus) within the crystal blue lagoon.
As Tourism is a main source of income in the islands kitesurfing accounts for over 50% in the island.
How to get there
Flights leave from NZ with Air New Zealand to Rarotonga and on a small internal flight with Air Rarotonga To Aitutaki. One small thing to note here is the baggage fees, whilst in NZ for extra baggage you may be charged a small amount $37.50 for baggage over the 25kg weight limit, you may be charged heavily when you take the internal flight to Aitutaki. The baggage fee can be up to $100 each way but just accept and carry on, it only happens if you end up travelling with another large group of kitesurfers because the crew have to fly your equipment over on a separate plane then fly you over separately to ensure your flight safety a small price to pay to be in such an amazing place really. Passports need to be valid for six months from date of departure for you to enter the country please check.
Best Months to visit
In Aitutaki the Rainy Season is from November to March with 28DegC temperatures and afternoon rain, the best season for weather and wind to visit is during the months of June to September with a wonderful temperature of between 23-29DegC on average and a water temperature of 27Deg all year round!
Because you'll want to know when the winds best if your kitesurfing.... Aitutaki gets trade winds usually from around June - September. The Prevailing wind directions are South East but it also gets Easterlies and lighter North easterlies. June to July brings mostly South easterlies ranging between 11-22 knots with the odd Easterly, while August to September average around 17-22 knots with fewer light days. The wind in the island usually comes in a 10 day cycle so keep a vigil on windguru!
There are 3 main locations to kitesurf from in aitutaki all clean bottom crystal clear free of any major coral minefields unlike other islands. Kitesurfing in the Atoll is flat water Freeride/Freestyle and downwind races but not surf, there is a small reef break but it breaks onto an almost dry coral reef and so is not surfable.
Outside Aitutaki Lagoon Resort
Located just in front of the Lagoon Resort there is a spot that works well on an East south East or an easterly, you will need to set your kite up on the beach launch if you can and body drag upwind across a small ditch in the lagoon or sidestroke across with board and kite in hand as there is a gap in the wind there but there is flat water kiting right on the other side. Beginners just make sure you check it out and be comfortable with where the water starts to get deeper, stay upwind of the other kiters and walk yourself back up wind if you can't ride up wind yet... you don't want to drift into the lagoon...
Tapuaeti (One foot island)
This is located at the South East Corner of the lagoon and works on most directions and is suitable for Beginners through to advanced riders with plenty of space for all, there is always a bit of a current around these motus so you always just need to be aware that the darker blue water is much deeper if your unable to ride upwind. You can even get your passport stamped on this island it's where the original port was where the Sea plane manned by TEAL would land in the war times, now you can get your passport stamped and have a lunch time beer or coke after kiting.
Maina Island (Otherwise known as Honeymoon island)
You cannot go to Aitutaki without checking out this island with a clear bottom only a few little bits of broken coral (you'll find more sea cucumbers than coral here)and white powder sand it boasts two kitesurfing spots perfect for beginners on one side and advanced riders with mirror flat water on the other side. It's a small island without much shade but the kite school there has put up a sunshade to keep visitors cool in between kiting. This is by far the most wonderful spot you will kite.
How to get to the Motu's (islands)
Boats leave from the west side of the island usually by the Warf just in Town from 8.30-10am coming back from 4-5.30 in the evening. The boat rides cost around $35- $50 approx and some include a lunch.
Where do you find out about all the info on the island?
The Koru cafe - Located on the east side of the island is the local information Hub with details on all you may like to do on the island and a local meeting place for most of the instructors who run trips over there at this time so it's a great place to have breakfast and catch up with everyone + they have internet and great coffee so you can check out the wind and your emails at the same time.
The island is good for fresh fish Fruit and eating island style, however there is anything in particular that you like to have like cereals Coffee etc its advisable to take them with as they don't have a great selection, meat can also be a bit expensive and not a huge selection so you can freeze some and bring it if you wish or live island styles on fresh fish and fruit oh how terrible! There is however a couple of local supermarkets on the island on the West side of the island just before you get to the Arutunga Township you'll find on the left side of the road the Heineken Shop (has a Heineken Sign outside) they are the best stocked supermarket and have the freshest bread, eggs fruits vegetables and also items like chocolate pastrami salamis and assorted cheeses to make sandwiches. A great way to keep hydrated and a sugar boost for cheap on the island is to buy the vanilla canned rice deserts yummy and cheapo packed full of energy for kiting.
One place to definitely check out restaurant wise is the payless store... looks wise it doesn't look like much it's located just up from the Heineken shop and does the MOST AMAZING Tuna Burger meal you will ever have Grilled Tuna fries, kumera fries or breadfruit chips and a salad all for $12 you can pick up your beers from the Heine shop and eat your burger on the way back from your kite delish.
Also check out the cocktail hr at the Lagoon Resort bar from 5pm from memory it's cheaper and a great end to a day kiting, the kiting spot in front of the lagoon is basically right in front of the bar.
This is the same as NZ which is fab as you always know what you’re spending... but it does get away on you. The Township is on the West side of the island Arutaunga Town Centre where you will find a westpac bank + a few atm Machine, telecoms, post office and supermarkets.
You can bring in heaps so stock up at the airport in rarotonga as soon as you get off the plane there is duty free, the only catch is that you can only leave with one bottle so you'll need to drink it all there but it is suuuupper cheap and a good way to have a cocktail evening between friends or stock up on a few cold ones to put in your fridge for the afternoons sitting next to the lagoon talking and taking a dip.
Scooters are the way to get around and very well priced for a tropical island they are at a rate of around $20 per day and you can find out where to rent one from the Koru Cafe or your local guide (if your travelling with a group) will tell you where to find them.
What Are you Waiting For GO! GO! GO! you won't be dissapointed!
Juan & Christie