next morning, I decided to take a cruise on Aitutaki's lagoon. As I
learned, a lagoon cruise is a real "must" for any visitor to Aitutaki,
and so far it's been the highlight of my trip to the Cook Islands. Several boats go out to the lagoon each
day but I opted for the "party boat," a 55-foot long pontoon craft
called the Titi-ai-tonga (no jokes, please). It's a
6-hour trip and it's a real blast.
about $20, you get a transfer to and from your lodging, the 6-hour boat ride, a BBQ buffet
lunch onboard, stops on a couple of motu
(small deserted islands), and free use of their snorkeling gear. The
snorkeling among the coral reefs is pretty interesting and I spotted several
huge clams, each over three feet across. I hadn't been snorkeling in six
years since my last visit to the Florida Keys and I had a really good
time. During my swim, something bit my on the foot which scared the crap
out of me, but then I realized it was just a tiny, black fish apparently defending his turf.
enough, after several hours on the boat no one had collected my fare. I
could've done the whole ride for free but wouldn't have felt good about it, so I
asked a crewman who I should pay. "Oh, you can pay me," he said
casually. As I discovered, this laid-back attitude is typical in the Cook
Islands. This definitely wasn't America.
Above left: Getting ready to ride on the
Above center: Heading out into the Aitutaki lagoon. Yes, the water really is that color.
Above right: One
of the deserted motus (small islands) that surround the lagoon.
This one, known as Rapota Motu, used to be a leper colony.
Above left: Back on board the Titi
for a barbeque lunch after an hour of
Above center: Heading towards One-Foot Island
Above right: We
spent a couple of hours on One-Foot Island (another deserted motu), did some
more snorkeling and kicked back.
Left: Back on board, returning to
Aitutaki after a hard day.
Travels (2001-02) >
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New Zealand and Cook Island Stories > The Lagoon