A few months ago, my adventurous clients, John and Bethany Jones, challenged me to find them a wonderful remote island experience that was gorgeous, non-commercialized, eco-friendly, and most of all, Zika free. After some thorough research and a call to the CDC for confirmation, the Cook Islands was one of the only islands that fit the description and was totally Zika free. Upon their return they gave me such a wonderful review to place on my website, but I wanted to share it with my neighborly magazine first, so here is the great review:
OVERALL: Pacific Resort Aitutaki is a special place. We just got back from a week in the Cook Islands and had an amazing time. If you’re looking for nightlife this is NOT the place for you. However, if you want tranquility, seclusion, beautiful beaches – consider Pacific Resort Aitutaki. From the moment we arrived at the airport in Aitutaki, Pacific Resort tended to our every need. We were greeted with flowers and fresh coconut water at the airport and quickly escorted to resort grounds. The rooms are beautiful – the website photos really don’t do them justice. We had direct beach access and a beautiful patio just steps away from the water. The resort is truly outstanding and one of the best places we’ve stayed during our travels. Gorgeous views, great layout, privacy, peace, seclusion. We’d describe this as "Rustic luxury”. Staff was friendly, attentive, kind and we really enjoyed getting to know some of the locals. The resort is absolutely beautiful and well maintained.
FOOD: We enjoyed the food although we would have loved to see more rotation among menu specials. By the 6th & 7th nights we were definitely in the mood for something different. We actually found ourselves eating at the Black Rock Café down by the pool more than the regular restaurant because we enjoyed the menu selections a bit more. Plates always came out hot from the kitchen and ingredients were fresh – just would have liked a little bit more variety.
SNORKELING: We enjoyed snorkeling – which you can do right from the Resort’s shore. Reef life was definitely different from other environments we've snorkeled. The lagoon is pretty shallow in most areas so it's pretty easy to scrape up against coral formations -- and because they're clustered closely together you really need to be careful. Bringing reef shoes, which we did, is a must (though they're also offered through the hotel). It's a totally different snorkel experience (compared to a place like Belize) -- but we definitely enjoyed it. Potential visitors should expect small, colorful, lagoon-dwelling fish (and lots of sea cucumbers!)
EXCURSIONS: If you have a chance to do a sailing tour with Captain Ted, do it! Ted is an Aitutaki-native and recently returned home to the island. He works at the resort and runs his sailing business each day. He provides private sailing tours of the lagoon...knows the land, knows the water, knows the culture. We went out for a half day with Ted, sailed the lagoon, learned to sail a little bit, snorkeled, saw sea turtles, learned more about culture, challenges facing the island, etc. Every guest that took Ted's trip raves about him. And it’s clear why, he has a wealth of knowledge about the lagoon and the island. We had a blast, would recommend this to anyone, and book in advance!
We also booked a lagoon/snorkel tour with Bishops Lagoon Cruise. The guides were local and great, funny also. We thoroughly enjoyed our day with Bishops. Great experience and good food. It is simply a larger cruise (about 16 people on board), different experience and different business model. We tend to lean towards the private tours if affordable, so Ted's was our favorite, but take nothing away from Bishops. They're both great excursions and we enjoyed meeting other travelers during this excursion.
We would highly recommend Pacific Resort Aitutaki. It is rustic luxury set in an amazing environment. It's small, quiet, secluded, provides privacy for the traveler, a chance to relax and plenty of ocean activity. Not a party destination but plenty to do if you enjoy swimming, kayaking, biking, snorkeling and getting to know local culture.
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