Cook Islands Flag

Cook Islands Travel Guide

Arutanga Wharf
Arutanga as seen from the wharf


Because Aitutaki's small population doesn't justify a regular ferry service from Rarotonga, getting here is more expensive than visiting similar outer islands in French Polynesia, Tonga, and Fiji, almost always involving a stiff plane ticket. (For flight and boat information see Travel Facts, Getting Around.) Air Rarotonga has an office at Ureia.

The shipping companies have no local agent, but the people at the Ports Authority near the wharf will know when a ship is due in. Dangerous coral heads and currents make passage through Aitutaki's barrier reef hazardous, so passengers and cargo on the interisland ships must be transferred to the wharf by lighters.

The Americans built Arutanga Wharf during World War II. They had planned to dredge the anchorage and widen the pass, but the war ended before they got around to it. Blasting by the New Zealand military in 1986 improved Arutanga Passage somewhat, but it's still narrow, with a six-knot current draining water blown into the lagoon from the south. The depth in the pass is limited to two meters at high tide, but reader C. Webb reports that:

The bottom of the pass is sand, so it's a good place to be somewhat aggressive.

Once inside, the anchorage off Arutanga is safe and commodious for yachts. This is an official port of entry to the Cooks and the local customs officials readily approve visa extensions for yacht crews. "Having fun" is sufficient reason.

No taxis or buses operate on Aitutaki but there's considerable scooter and pickup traffic along the west coast.

Continue to   Transportation: For Rent   »