Like Bora Bora, Aitutaki is a popular honeymoon island with a barrier reef surrounding an emerald lagoon. Low coral islands called motu flank the eastern side of the Aitutaki Lagoon, while to the northwest a larger volcanic island anchors Aitutaki Atoll.
The highest point on Aitutaki is Maungapu (124 meters), said to be the top of Rarotonga's Raemaru chopped off and brought back by victorious Aitutaki warriors. Captain William Bligh discovered Aitutaki in 1789, only 17 days before the notorious mutiny on the Bounty. Protestant missionaries arrived in 1821. Aitutaki's huge airstrip was built by the Americans during World War Two.
After Rarotonga, Aitutaki is the most popular vacation destination in the Cook Islands. The white sandy beaches and brilliant reefs are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, and a lagoon tour to Tapuaetai or "One Foot Island" is an essential part of any visit.
Another Aitutaki specialty are the Polynesian dance shows staged during weekly "island nights" at local hotels and restaurants. A buffet of island food accompanies such events.
Aitutaki's airport sits at the northern end of the main island, while the local administrative center Arutanga is opposite the only boat passage through the reef. Among the large hotels are the Aitutaki Pacific Resort near Amuri and the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa southeast of the airport on Akitua Island. There are also many small guest houses.