A visit to the Cook Islands is not complete without seeing the beautiful island of Aitutaki - in fact people in the know fly straight there and visit Rarotonga as a short stopover. Aitutaki is about 50 min flight 220km north of Rarotonga. It is partly volcanic and partly of atoll origin. It's highest hill, Maungapu, which gives a 360% view of the Aitutaki lagoon and island, is said to be the top of Rarotonga's Raemaru Peak, brought back by victorious warriors. The spectacular triangular lagoon - 45 km around - with it's crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beaches on it's many uninhabited motus (small islands)- is abundant with colourful fish of many varieties. Visitors should set their watches to "island time". In this laidback atmosphere you will find what you are looking for - a place of natural beauty and tranquillity providing a simple tonic to sooth away the pressures of the outside world. An island night - buffet dinner and floor show - is an experience on Aitutaki where it is family affair. The dancers of all ages on Aitutaki are non proffesionals but still manage to steal the show at many Cook Island competitions.
As on Rarotonga, the popular mode of transport is the motor scooter. A Cook Island licence on Aitutaki is $2.50 provided you have a current overseas driving licence.
Getting to Aitutaki: Air Rarotonga are the only internal airline with up to 5 daily flights from Rarotonga (international airport) to Aitutaki and back. Prebooking online from overseas is possible.
A visitor permit for 31 days is granted to all Nationals on arrival at Rarotonga airport (presentation of a valid passport for at least six months beyond the intended period of stay and a ticket for return or onward travel is required). Visas can be extended for up to six months at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in Rarotonga.
The Cook Islands uses the NZ$ currency - 24 hr ATM can be found at the airport (BSP Bank at the airport opens for all international flights), and ANZ, BCI and BSP have ATM's in Avarua town. Both BSP and ANZ banks have ATM's on Aitutaki. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and by some tour operators on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Some shops will exchange travellers cheques as well.
Cook Islands time is 10 hours behind GMT (London), 22 hours behind NZ and 5 hours behind US West Coast.
International Dialing Code = (682)
Electricity = 240v / 40Hz (same voltage as UK and NZ) with plugs being three flat pins (same as NZ). US Visitors will require a convertor.