If you’re looking for a more intrepid adventure, Atiu is the island for you. Unlock its mysteries, explore ancient caves, observe rare tropical bird life, and discover 36 secluded coral sand beaches.
As one of the three southern group islands known as Nga-Pu-Toru, Atiu attracts the spirit of the explorer. With no nightclubs, virtually no township, around 400 people and a couple of cafes along with precious little traffic – this is a true escape. Life is pretty much the same as it was some 25 years ago and offers therefore a really genuine insight into island living with its five small villages of Tengatangi, Areora, Ngatiarua, Mapumai and Teenui nestled in the centre. Gardens thrive on its rich soil and on certain days the soft aroma of organically grown coffee beans roasting wafts past from plantations that produce some of the best Arabica coffee in the Pacific.
Rich in culture and history, Atiu is an eco-lovers paradise.
Atiu is only a quick 45-minute flight from Rarotonga and Aitutaki with Air Rarotonga. From Rarotonga, there are flights three times per week on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. From Aitutaki, there are flights three times per week on Fridays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Air Rarotonga also offer an Aitutaki and Atiu Island Combo package.
There are numerous limestone caves dotted around the island. These caves are continually being carved out by the interaction of fresh and salt water. Some even house pools of artesian water that create both beautiful and exciting swimming holes. A walk through that fantastic dense tropical jungle covering the makatea leads to Anatakitaki Cave where an astonishing three caverns harbour clear cool pools of water, stalagmites, stalactites and a high natural cathedral ceiling above. The caves which riddle the makatea coastline were often used as burial grounds and ancient artefacts can be found deep in the chambers. The Te Ana o Raka, with its amazing 15 chambers was the home of the Rakanui family and Nurau and Vai Akaruru are deep subterranean waters which cave divers dream about with their some 50 metre depths.
The caves also provide a home to one of our rare native birds, the Kopeka. This tiny bird nests deep in the limestone caverns and just like a bat navigates its way through the dark using sonar. Click here to download a flyer on birds of Atiu. This island is also a haven for viewing the exotic plumes of the Tavake, the White Capped Noddy, the Great Frigate and the Brown Bobby. The endangered Kakerori and the colourful Kura flit around historical sites. In fact some eleven native birds, the loudest of which is the Blue Kingfisher, with its calls through the still of the jungle, can be found here.
The island’s surrounding reef has risen to such an extent that one can often walk to the outer lagoon. From that reef the ocean floor drops away dramatically, and in the months of August, September and October this provides the perfect spot to watch the spectacular performances of migrating whales.
Your coffee fix
Atiu also has a thriving coffee business with Arabica coffee organically grown, hand picked and dried on the island. A visit to one of our coffee plantations is a fascinating experience.
Craft beer, island style
By night you must join us at a tumunu, or local beer club. The tumunu, which translates as “coconut trunk”, is a century old tradition where our people gather to discuss local events while drinking their delicious home brewed fruit beer, which is of course stored in barrels, made from coconut trunks. Some of the Maoris found the missionary influence just a tad too much and when they were told “no drinking” they simply took to the bush and began their own ritual of the tumunu; a very convivial activity named after the brewing barrels which are carved out of the thickest part of the coconut palm. It involves passing round a half coconut filled with fermented fruit juice while sitting in a circle chatting. Opened and closed with a prayer, the ceremony has clear codes of conduct. But ultimately after a couple of swigs of this lethal potion, the chat becomes somewhat indecipherable. It certainly beats pub crawling for a six.
For a truly unforgettable experience stay with one of our local families, or if you prefer you can book into the Atiu Villa’s where you’ll find a pool, Wi-Fi, tennis court and a restaurant to provide your evening meals.