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Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Hey all,

I'm considering a family vacation to the Cook Islands possibly by May 2019. We have two little ones, one turning 3 (boy) in August and the other who will be 2 (girl) in February. I'm a little iffy about the flight since we haven't flown with our younger one yet nor have we flown that long (10hrs coming from LAX) with the older one!

Other than that, I keep hearing many of the lagoon areas around both Rarotonga and Aitutaki are well-suited for kids. I am concerned with general transportation and other logistics though, especially getting around Aitutaki.

Should we bring strollers? What about disposable diapers (if that's all we've been putting our kids in)? Any vaccinations/immunizations we should take care of? Passports? Any other concerns?

I really like to fish, so would definitely be considering doing some GT and bonefishing as well as other - I've seen what people are catching out there and it's exciting. I'm not so sure if any of that would be suitable for my wife and kids though unless perhaps it was within the lagoon on calmer waters.

Just seeing if there's anything we should be aware of that most people don't realize.

Edited: 01 August 2018, 22:42
18 replies to this topic
Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
1. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

RE: fishing, I am aware of potential Ciguatera for fish particularly inside the lagoon. My intention is *not* to keep anything inside the lagoon and only catch and release. If anything I'd be fine with catch and release shore fishing if that's the only lagoon fishing I'll be able to do. But it would be nice to go for mahi, tuna or other edible/safe to consume fishing on the outer reefs where Ciguatera won't be an issue.

I'm just wondering, if I go out on a trip or two where young kids cannot go and my wife ends up stay back with them, what kinds of activities she would be able to easily do with them (perhaps some sort of crafting or other kid activities outside of the beach/water that are easily accessible)?

Edited: 01 August 2018, 22:47
Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
2. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Also, I've generally read Aitutaki is not as 'kid-friendly' as Rarotonga. Thing is, if we're flying 10 hours out that way, I want to maximize our time and I've heard Aitutaki would be a shame to miss in particular if we're in the area. So if we were to decide to go, I'd like to make every effort possible to make it there... if we're confined to staying in one location for most of the time and only being able to do a lagoon cruise, I think that'll be fine. But it would still be nice to hear about other options/activities that can be done with kids on Aitutaki

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
17,934 posts
130 reviews
3. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Kia Orana jplee, welcome to the Cook Islands forum.

10+ hours is a long flight, but it is an overnighter so hopefully you will be able to settle your children to sleep following the meal and some onboard entertainment. Your flight arrives into Raro around dawn (local time).

I suggest stopping on Rarotonga first to unwind and to become familiar with the bigger island, before heading over to Aitutaki for a few nights. But how long is your visit in total? Will you have enough days to enjoy both Rarotonga and Aitutaki?

A self-catering villa at one of the resorts on Rarotonga could fit in well with your fishing plans. So that your family have onsite company, staff in attendance and an outdoor area for children's play. Being on or handy to a beachfront will take care of some diversion for your children, while you go deep-sea fishing.

I recommend bone-fishing (catch and release) on Aitutaki, and deep-sea fishing on Rarotonga.

You may not need transport on Raro, since it has a good bus service. But there are plenty of rental cars available. Consider hiring a car on Aitutaki though.

One property on Aitutaki that I consider to be a good base for a family stay is Aitutaki Beach Villas. Self-contained with kitchenettes, lovely beach, and within walking distance to the nearest grocery store.

All the best with your plans for May 2019. This past May we enjoyed very good weather, with balmy days and nights and warm temps amidst low rainfall on Rarotonga.

Kia manuia.

Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
4. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Thanks Frangipani08!

We would plan on going for 13 days including travel time. Flight would leave on a late night (as you pointed out) Saturday and get in early Sunday morning (also as you pointed out haha). Return flight also leaves late night Friday from RAR back to LAX and this would be the 2nd Friday from when we get in. So almost 2 whole weeks. I would plan to do as you are suggesting - spend at least half the time in Rarotonga and either the other half (or less) in Aitutaki. We are now considering having my in-laws join if possible. The other thing is that we may be trying for a third towards the end of this year so we don't know whether my wife with be pregnant. Even if she is I'm thinking there shouldn't be any major impacts barring Doctor's orders. If we do take our kids, we would want to also try to go before our second one turns 2 (end of Feb) which means a late Jan trip - is the weather generally pretty good then as well?

Regarding food, I do have some slight concerns about where to eat as well as what to do should we decide to cook. Of course, catching fresh fish would be great but I'm not sure we'd want to eat that every night. Even in Aitutaki. I think I read that if you want to hit the markets it's best to go early morning in general? Are there any specific provisions particular to the Cook Islands we would want to make sure we try along the lines of food? :)

"Consider hiring a car on Aitutaki though." - do you mean renting a car to drive ourselves? And if so, would we be limited in where we can actually go? What about getting to the other sub-islands/motus(?)? Are there ferries that the kids would be OK on?

My in-laws are relatively elderly in their early 70s now, so there's some minor concern with them too. We would want to avoid too much strenuous activity or walking. If they're able to stay relatively stationary and not have to walk long distances, that would be better for them. We want this to be relaxing for them and I have no doubt it would be but just want to be aware of any potential issues.

"A self-catering villa at one of the resorts on Rarotonga could fit in well with your fishing plans. So that your family have onsite company, staff in attendance and an outdoor area for children's play. Being on or handy to a beachfront will take care of some diversion for your children, while you go deep-sea fishing.

I recommend bone-fishing (catch and release) on Aitutaki, and deep-sea fishing on Rarotonga."

Is the "self-catering villa" one of the ones you were referring to where there's a kitchenette you can cook your own food in and have that flexibility?? But it is still part of a larger 'resort' where you can call the front desk if you need things, etc? Is there a particular resort you're referring to with the outdoor area where the kids can play and that is also on a beachfront?

I've heard of a few good guides in Aitutaki (Butch Leone for bonefish and Mike/Black Pearl for outside fishing) but haven't researched Rarotonga - any recommendations?

Edited: 02 August 2018, 02:28
Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

My other concern is the logistics if we were to stay first in Rarotonga and finish our trip in Aitutaki... obviously our return flight is out of RAR so we'd have to get back there from Aitutaki. Is it common for flights to get canceled between RAR and AIT? Would we be 'safe' catching a flight out of Aitutaki Friday morning/mid-day or even afternoon? We would of course like to maximize the time so is there somewhere we could safely leave any luggage if we wanted to do any 'last minute relaxing' in RAR before the flight home?

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
17,934 posts
130 reviews
6. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Some of the resorts have self-contained villas as well as hotel rooms. You can retain flexibility by staying at a resort villa so that you can choose to dine in at an onsite restaurant, or to cook your own fresh fish and meals that children enjoy. Nice to have your own family gathering at meal times when you choose.

The Edgewater has 3 br villas and 2 br apartments, with kitchenettes. So does the Rarotongan Resort, although their 3 br villas are offsite of the main resort. The Rarotongan Resort has an indoor children's playroom and kids club. So too does the Edgewater have a kids club and onsite guests activities.

Nearby Lagoon Breeze villas are all s/c, with onsite staff and property owners in residence.

Lagoon Breeze includes breakfast in their breakfast cafe, they have a guests bar for drinks, and have various BBQs for cooking. No onsite restaurant though, so you would either walk to Cocoputt bistro or to the Kaena steakhouse. Lagoon Breeze has an outdoor children's playground, and kiddies paddling pool.

Palm Grove in Vaimaanga has a 3 br beach-house as well as their one bedroom onsite villas and offsite houses. Onsite pool, and pretty beachfront. Nearest playground is about 1km away at the YWAM centre.

Pacific Resort and the Muri Beach Resort both have onsite restaurants and 3 br families villas, as well as 1 and 2br family units.

Next to the Punanga Nui market place, there is a children's playground. Very popular spot located alongside some of the permanent market stalls selling food and coffee.

Regarding fishing, Rarotonga has some 10 or more fishing charters. Most are based at Avatiu harbour, and all seem to have success or not so good fishing days. Check which charters provide their customers with some of the catch! Most important that you get to share some of the fish you/they catch.

Either the late morning or the mid afternoon flight from Aitutaki will be fine for your departure later that Friday night. Air Raro may be expensive but it is very reliable. I set my body clock by their aircraft movements!

Once you return to Raro, take your luggage over to The Islander hotel where they store bags for $5.00 a piece. Their restaurant serves lunches and dinners. A reasonably priced menu, and drinks. Nice ocean views and extremely handy to the airport checkin.

Check with your GP regarding health travel requirements, but we do have a 24/7 hospital with outpatients clinic here, ambulance service, and pharmacies on Rarotonga. No zika, or dengue at present. Be sure to take all the usual precautions with mosquitoes and sun protection. Drink commercially filtered or bottled water.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
17,934 posts
130 reviews
7. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

I forgot about late January for a visit. Bear in mind that this month and February are our most tropical months. Very warm/hot and humid days, some breezes, warm lagoons, could be restless sleeping at night unless you have a cooling fan or air con. Days are best spent at the beach or as close to water (pool) as possible.

The good news is that there are fewer visitors so you can have a beach or most of the resort to yourselves! And get a restaurant booking easily!

Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
8. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Thanks so much for the tips! I'll have to warn my wife about Jan/Feb. I think my in-laws will be OK because they grew up in Seoul and Taiwan which are both pretty humid at times. For the rest of us it might be tough. Are there particular resorts/lodges/etc that have A/C?

And on that note, is there any particular resort/lodge/hotel that's situated on a beach front that doesn't really get crowded and would be great for waking up early and casting a line out?! :) I love the thought of being seconds away from the sand and with nobody else around being able to fish for several hours or even all day in isolation. Sounds like there could be some places that fit this description haha.

The breakfast included places would definitely be a huge factor in our decision. I think Paradise Cove in Aitutaki is another one of those kind.

Irvine
Level Contributor
109 posts
21 reviews
9. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Actually, it looks like all the Rarotonga resorts you linked note "Breakfast Included" in the amenities. So I guess it's not uncommon!

Aitutaki, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Aitutaki
Level Contributor
2,108 posts
40 reviews
10. Re: Rarotonga and Aitutaki w/ two toddlers (close to 3 and 2)

Hi jplee, On Aitutaki take a look at Tamanu Beach Resort (CostCo Travel has packages for them) They have a restaurant and provide breakfast.

Also the Ootu Villa and Ootu Beach house. These are 2 bed room self catering units and are walking distance to several nice places to eat including the Koru Cafe which is very kid friendly. Right in front is a large sand flat where you can bone fish.

Next to the Ootu properties is Aitutaki Village resort with a restaurant and provides breakfast.

Also take a look at the Aretai Villas which are also two bedroom self contained.

For an upscale stay, the Aitutaki Pacific Resort is family friendly. (CostCo Travel also has packages here as well)

You will need a car to get around on Aitutaki. The motu can only be accessed by boat. The Boat Shed rents cars with NZ certified kid's seats available.

I would also take a look at Itu Davey as a possible guide for bone fishing. If you go out with Mike on the Black Pearl you will have a great time deep sea fishing. Be aware that fish caught stay with the boat. Mike however will give you a nice fillet or two depending on how many fish are caught.

One last item, Air New Zealand has been having a special sale on Cyber Monday - the Monday after the US Thanksgiving. They have had tickets on sale for $489 round trip from LA to Rarotonga. You have to purchase your tickets on that day but can book well into the next year. You can also book from LA to Aitutaki through ANZ as Air Rarotonga is code shared with them. And there are some cost savings there from Raro to Aitutaki.

Hope all this helps. If you have any other specific questions about Aitutaki just ask.

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