Coral-protected Crystal-clear Waters
As soon as you arrive at Arutanga on an MSC cruise, you can’t help but notice that the Aiutaki atoll has the shape of a triangle that seems to have been drawn by a child.
The small settlement area — the entire island is home to only a couple of thousand people — is located on the west coast, south of the landing strips made for American airplanes during World War II.
An MSC World Cruise is a great way to leisurely discover the riches found on the second largest of the Cook Islands: Aiutaki Lagoon. Right after you go ashore at Arutanga, you run into the rugby field and two white churches (the Cook Islands Christian Church is more than a hundred years old and is one of the oldest masonry structures on the island) on the main road, where the post office can also be found. This road circles the entire island whose eastern side also boasts a crystal-clear, calm lagoon, justifiably considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
Out of the selection of interesting MSC excursions available, you can choose to go on guided tours of two of the smaller islands: Honeymoon Island and One Foot Island. They are located at opposite ends of the lagoon; Honeymoon Island is 3.5 km west of the coast, and One Foot Island (Tapueta) 4 km to the east. Honeymoon Island is actually a sandbank located in front of the island of Maina where the red-tailed tropicbird with plumage as white as the sand of this atoll nests.
One Foot Island takes its name from its shape that is reminiscent of the footprint of a bare right foot. Also hidden amongst the vegetation of Aiutaki can be found the marae (courtyards), sacred ceremonial places used by the ancient populations that colonized the Cook Islands before the arrival of European explorers.