by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog
All the passengers woke up on the Zuiderdam with high expectations that we would able to tender to Aitutaki, Cook Islands. The sun was rising above the island and the rays were shining down. In my heart I knew that was God’s way of saying we were going to be able to explore Aitutaki today.
After breakfast, we went up to the Billboard Lounge to pick up our tender ticket. It was just after 8:00 am and they were already handing out tender number three passes.
The captain made an announcement and you could see everyone’s face looked of concern that we wouldn’t be able to get off of the ship. The passengers were relieved when the only change that the captain made is we would be leaving port an hour early to avoid any predicted weather concerns later in the afternoon.
Hailed as The Most Beautiful Lagoon in the World, Aitutaki is truly a postcard of a tropical paradise. The main island is long, narrow, and fish-hook shaped, and is surrounded by a shallow aqua blue lagoon. Cruising into it, and out to the smaller surrounding islands, you are surrounded with the most vibrant blue water we had honestly ever seen.
Once out of the 10-minute tender, we were ready to explore. It takes about two hours to walk the island and we were ready for a hike to get our steps in (18,600 steps today).
In a half a mile we were already heading to Piraki Lookout. It was about 20 minutes up the mountain from the main road. Such majestic views of Aitutaki and the sea from this lookout.
We proceeded down the road to our next stop, Mangapu, the highest part of the island (124 meters, about 407 feet). As we walked the coral shell rural roads we saw crabs along the trails. Yes, you read that right, crabs. Pretty large crabs on our hike in the woods and not at the beaches. We did find that pretty unique and loved seeing all the crabs.
Also along the trail we saw chickens, pigs, and goats at residences of the people of Aitutaki. One of the goats looked like a baby deer from a distance, but logic and John made me realize how could a deer have made its’s way to this island.
When we reached Mangapu, the views were even more breathtaking than when we were at Piraki Lookout.
There was an even steeper muddier walk to a higher location. We would have been fine going up, but I don’t know how we would have made our way down-very steep and slippery. Without hiking poles it is basically impossible and we did not have those.
From the highest point of the island, we walked back down to the water where we came to Etu Montana Beach Villas. We chatted with the manager who is from New Zealand. He offered for us to get a drink at their bar. As we walked towards the pool and bar, we saw the beach and we felt it calling us.
So instead of a drink we walked along the beach until we came upon a location where many of the passengers of the ship were snorkeling.
We joined them and began our snorkeling adventure. You didn’t have to go very far to see beautiful fish and coral. The water was such a beautiful greenish blue. We saw tiger fish, blue fish, yellow fish and schools of fish, lots of coral, and sea cucumbers. It was such an amazing time and it wasn’t over yet.
The beach was a part of Tamanu Beach Resort. The restaurant there did not mind you coming in with wet bathing suits and sandy shoes. Since they opened up to the beach, it seemed like all their clientele were wet and sandy.
What we have loved about each of the islands is everyone speaks English. The have their own language but are fluent in English as well.
We enjoyed a beer, a Mai Thai, and French fries. The drinks were terrific and they may have been the best fries we have ever eaten.
What was even more fantastic is they had high speed internet. We haven’t had that since Honolulu, 20 days ago. I was so excited to be able to post some YouTube shorts and John had a chance to check the stock market. He has been on break from that since we started our vacation.
We did about a 20-minute walk back to the tender. On our way we stopped at a few of the local shops and picked up our normal collection items: magnet, flag, mask, and our trip is not complete without trying a chocolate bar from the country.
Once back on the ship, we connected with some of the passengers we have gotten to know and enjoyed the speciality drink called Love Potion. It is a mixture of Frozen Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Mango Daiquiri with rum.
Tonight after dinner, we went to the Halloween Party. Some of the passengers dressed up. We did Thriller Dance we have been practicing.
We had such an incredible day.
Tomorrow is another sea day as we head to Bora Bora. It is hard to believe we still have 17 days to go and six more ports. This has definitely been a once in a lifetime trip for us.
Believe it or not, some of the passengers have done this cruise before. We are amazed how many passengers have their next long cruise already booked.