Cooling shade and colourful kayaks at O'otu Beach, Aitutaki.
Sent by Kimiora from Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
Aitutaki, also traditionally known as Araura, Ararau and Utataki, is one of the Cook Islands, north of Rarotonga. It has a population of approximately 2,000. Aitutaki is the second most visited island of the Cook Islands. The main village is Arutanga (Arutunga) on the west side.
Aitutaki is an "almost atoll". It has a maximum elevation of approximately 123 metres with the hill known as Maunga Pu close to its northernmost point. The land area of the atoll is 18.05 km², of which the main island occupies 16.8 km². The Ootu Peninsula, protruding east from the main island in a southerly direction along the eastern rim of the reef, takes up 1.75 km² out of these 16.8 km² for the main island. For the lagoon, area figures between 50 and 74 km² are found. Satellite image measurement suggests that the larger figure also includes the reef flat, which is commonly not considered part of a lagoon.
The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands (including Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua).
The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki's important features including a boat passage through the barrier reef allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga. Towards the south of the side is a small break in the barrier reef, allowing access for small boats to the lagoon which covers most of the southern part of the triangle. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island. Its fertile volcanic soil provide tropical fruits and vegetables. Two of Aitutaki's 15 islets (motus) are also volcanic. The rest are made of coral.
Aitutaki Airport is located close to the triangle's northern point. There is an area suitable to land flying boats in the southeastern part of the lagoon. (read further)