Aitutaki Island

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Aitutaki is the Cook Islands' second island in importance and popularity. It is not as beautiful as Rarotonga, but it has its own unique charm.

Aitutaki sits at one end of a shark-free lagoon, which is dotted with small islands, known as motu. The most interesting motu include Maina, which is a nesting ground for red-tailed tropicbirds and perfect for snorkeling and Tapuaetai, which includes a nice beach and clear turquoise waters. Tapuaetai is also known as One Foot Island.

On Aitutaki are several interesting historical sites, including various pre-European religious meeting grounds, called marae. Most of these sites can be visited.

The main town on Aitutaki is Arutanga. Near the island's southeastern shore are various impressive basalt marae stones. The stones, each of which has its own name, are amongst the largest of its kind in the Cook Islands.

On the northern end of the island is Maungapu, the highest point on Aitutaki. It is only 125 m (410 feet) high, but it offers excellent views of the island and the lagoon.

Aitutaki's airport is at the northern end of the island. There are daily flights between Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Aitutaki is popular with yachters, so you can get there by boat too. Accommodation is available and Aitutaki also has one of the best 'island nights' dance and music performances in the Cook Islands. Aitutaki Island is 250 km north of Avarua.

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