Atiu, Mauke & Mangaia
Forming part of Polynesia, this island nation is divided into two groups; the Northern Group of islands, all coral atolls, and the Southern Group of islands, all of which have volcanic origins. Penrhyn Island, Nassau, Pukapuka, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Suwarrow are all part of the Northern Group, while Rarotonga, Ma’uke, Mitiaro, Aitutaki, Mangaia, ‘Atiu, Palmerston Island, Manuae, and Takutea form the Southern Group. Manuae, Suwarrow and Takutea are all uninhabited islands, with Suwarrow designated as a national park. Rarotonga is the largest of
the Cook Islands, while Aitutaki is the smallest island. We have chosen to offer information on three other islands in the Southern Group: Atiu, Mauke and Mangaia.
Atiu is the third largest of the Cook Islands at 26.9 sq km. Air Rarotonga flies regularly from Monday to Saturday to Atiu. There are air routes to Atiu from both Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Many flights from Atiu also go on to land at
Mitiaro and Mauke as well, as there are no direct flights to these islands. The Atiu airstrip sits in the north of the island along the coast and is a short ride away from the island’s center. Getting around Atiu is actually quite easy, as mostly everything you need is located in the center of the island. If you wish to tour Atiu in its entirety, you will need to rent some kind of transport like a motor bike or bicycle. Traditionally known as Enua Manu or Land of Birds, according to legend when Atiu was first discovered only birds and insects were found living here. What is also unique about Atiu is its rather colorful and often bloody history, as its natives were regarded as the greatest warriors of the Cook Islands. Controlled by 7 different chiefs in the early 18th century, during this period many tribal wars were fought here. Known for its makatea or fossilized coral formations; Atiu offers some wonderful limestone caves to explore. These caves were used in ancient times as burial sites. The ideal island for the active soul, there are plenty of things to do on Atiu. Excellent beaches, old
marae , good walking trails and superb vistas mean that you will never get bored while you are here. Many people often tour Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro together because they are so close to each other. While you are on Atiu don’t forget to attend a tumunu or bush beer drinking session, which involves drinking a home brewed orange colored beer!
Our favourite accommodation on Atiu is Atiu Villas. Atiu Villas sits outside Aroera and offers some excellent accommodations.
Mauke is among the least visited of the Cook Islands. Situated east of
Mitiaro to its northwest,
this island is known for its excellent caving and spelunking opportunities as well. Air Rarotonga flies here five days a week from Rarotonga airport. Often combined with a visit to the neighboring islands of Atiu and Mitiaro,
it is best to visit Mauke along with these two islands as part of an organized tour. On Mauke you can explore
the island on foot or rent a motor bike from Tiare Cottages. A good way to see Mauke is by organized tour.
These tours take you around the island visiting the various lovely beaches here as well as the ancient mare, limestone caves and other interesting spots found on the island. A raised atoll, Mauke has a number of pretty beaches and old marae that are definitely worth seeing. The Administration Center of the island is at the Taunganuni Harbor and as you head north you will find the police station and hospital. The Telecom office and the post office on Mauke lie in the village of Ngatiarua, which lies in the center of the island. Here you will also find the ‘divided’ church, which is shared by the members of the CICC and Roman Catholic faith. Like
Atiu, Mauke too is home to densely forested makatea, which has many limestone caves worth exploring. Most of these caves have lovely cool water pools in them that are wonderful to swim in. In the afternoons and after school, many of the school children on Mauke visit the various caves for a quick dip to cool off before they head home. The Vai Tango, the Vai Ou, The Vai Moraro, the Vai Moti, the Vai Tukume, the Vai Mau and the Via Tunamea are all great caves to explore. The Motuanga Cave is one of the best known caves to see on Mauke and has 100 chambers! On Mauke, you have two accommodation options to choose from. Tiare Cottages sits
on the coast near Kopupooki Beach with several simple cottages for rent. These cottages come equipped with
a fridge, while organized tour activities on Mauke are also on hand for guests as well. Cove Lodge is a rental house near the hospital. It sleeps up to six people and is great to use if you are traveling in a large group
or with your family.
Mangaia, the second largest of the Cook Islands is known for its rich lush greenery and tropical vegetation.
Rarotonga in size, Mangaia is roughly 51.8 sq km, but is home to only around 700 people.
Pristine and uncrowded,
Mangaia is the ideal retreat for those looking to escape to a more tranquil destination. Peaceful and quiet, this island is the perfect place to spend a few days by yourself or with a few friends or loved ones. The best way to get to Mangaia is to fly here by airplane. Air
Rarotonga offers four flights a week between Mangaia and Rarotonga. The airstrip on Mangaia lies in the north of the island and is closer to he town of Ivirua.
Once you land on Mangaia, the best way to get around is by motorbike. Walking is a wonderful way to see Mangaia as well, with a number of lovely walking trails on the island. However, be sure to notify someone before you go for a walk in case you get lost. Although
Mangaia is among the largest of the Cook Islands in terms of land area, there are not too many places to see out here. Ferns, trees, shrubs, vines and coconut palms grow
on the makatea here, which provides some beautifully greenery. A very beautiful island, much of Mangaia’s appeal lies in the fact that this island is less touristy and more natural. Here you will find rich green agricultural valleys to wander through and sheer stunning cliffs to climb. The main feature of the island is its ancient coral reef, called Makatea, that has risen up to 60 metres above sea level forming a high ring around the island.
The Makatea contains numerous limestone caves, some literally kilometres long, all with stalactites and stalagmites and some are ancient burial sites. There are three main villages on Mangaia, Oneroa, Tamarua and Ivirua, while much of the islands interior is hilly and steep with makatea cliffs in many places that rise from the coast and run inland. Our recommendation is to stay at Ara Moana Bungalows to relax and enjoy the peace