Atiu

Overview

Introduction

This island has nice beaches, limestone caves, marae (temple) ruins and a good lagoon for shelling. It's relatively easy to get to: It's served daily by flights on Air Rarotonga. Even so, you'll often have Atiu pretty much to yourself. Accommodations there—and on all outer islands except Aitutaki—should be arranged in advance through a Rarotonga-based travel agent.

Explore the networks of underground caves, but be sure you have a guide: They are as complex as they are interesting. Takitaki Cave is the home of stalactites and kopekas, the island's answer to the swallow. Rimi Rau Cave still contains skeletons, remnants of its days as a burial site. At night, the local men meet at one of Atiu's nine tumunus, or bush beer schools, to drink homebrew and sing songs. The island's small tourist hotel has comfortable but basic cottages—guests prepare their own meals. The island is small enough to tour on foot, although rental motorcycles are available. Rental cars are nonexistent. If you go, plan to stay two days, minimum. 140 mi/220 km northeast of Rarotonga.

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