After only two days, it came clear to us that Atiu was definitely THE highlight of the three islands we visited within the Cook Islands. It was here that the words “unspoiled nature” and “Travel Off The Beaten Track” took on a completely new meaning for us.
True, it lacks the awesome sight of a lagoon like in Aitutaki that plays on the mythical “South Seas Feeling”. But all this dwindled into insignificance after riding our scooter on dirt roads, overgrown with weed, surrounded by thick lush primary rainforest and still hearing the waves breaking on the reef. We could sense every second that we were in a very isolated and remote place.
From the dirt road circling the island, small trails lead to spectacular beaches embraced by sharp fossilized cliffs. The shallow stretch separating the nearby reef from the shore is a maze of flat rocks covered by a few inches of water and shallow light blue sandy pools.
And there is sooo much more to see than in Aitutaki or Rarotonga! The Kopeka Cave, the Burial Cave, a historic walk with Papa Paiere, a retired history professor and the incredible nature walk with “Birdman George”. Spending an evening at a Tumunu, a “Bush Pub”, chatting with the locals and a visit to one of the five churches on Sunday is not less exciting. Last but not least, visit a coffee plantation and learn about how to grow, process and market coffee or drop in at “Atiu Fibre Art”, a studio where three ladies produce textiles of a quality that blow your mind.
There were so few tourists here – 7 altogether when we arrived, but only 5 over the week-end – that we were treated with immense curiosity in the village while throngs of small children besieged our front porch on the way back from school. Once two cheeky young boys brought their little pig into our front area, which after they left it tied to a post started digging up the whole area. The squeaking became a nuisance and we very firmly told them to take their piggy somewhere else!