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“Second time around - just as great as the first!”
Review of Are-a-Matatui

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Are-a-Matatui
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
Level Contributor
32 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Second time around - just as great as the first!”
Reviewed August 26, 2013

This was our second time in Aitutuki - the first was 5 years ago when we stayed a week at Aretai after having spent a week on Rarotonga. We loved Aitutaki so much we decided to spend two weeks here. Are-a-Matatui is in the same compound as Aretai and is owned and hosted by the same family. The price includes pickup and dropoff at the airport. Mama is ageless and always kind and helpful. Our son injured his foot on a motorbike and she drove us to the hospital and waited until he had been treated, and would not accept our offer of payment.

The accommodations are lovely 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom villas - we stayed at the beachfront one. They are roomy and ideal for families, with most other places on the island being for couples (ie one bedroom or a single room). Both bedrooms had kingsized beds with one being able to be separated into two beds, which was good for our two children. In the lounge room there was also a day bed that could be used for sleeping. There is a large front deck with plenty of seating and lounging room (including two built-ins) and also a table.

There is a kitchenette with oven, cooktop, microwave, toaster and fridge. There is adequate cookware, crockery and cutlery. This is self catering so although there is fresh fruit and a small carton of milk supplied on arrival (with the fruit being replenished a couple of times during our stay) you need to be prepared to shop for things if you want to cook for yourself. Things are limited and relatively expensive on the island (basics like milk, butter, cheese, and canned goods are imported from NZ via the monthly freighter). Knowing this from our last trip we brought in some non-persihables such as cereal, freeze dried food (the same as we usually use for camping), powdered milk, coffee (I bought some Starbucks single use instant), teabags, single use creamer etc so we had supplies and could delay going shopping until we settled in. We mainly shopped at the market with the Heineken sign, but there is also a shop at the harbour called Maina traders.

Also be prepared for mosquitoes - bring plenty of repellant and also some hydrocortisone cream - it is inevitable that you will get bitten. The place is screened but there were gaps in some of the screens (we sealed them with some tape - hopefully this will get repaired at some point but on an isolated island it isn't as if you can go to the local Home Depot to get materials!). But even if the screens had been perfect there are plenty of mozzies outdoors, especially near trees. Most restaurants are open-air also, another opportunity to be bitten.

The beach outside is lovely and good for relaxing - it is virtually deserted, just great for a feeling of being away from it all. There is an area that is a swimming hole just a few steps away. The local lagoon is good for wading and some kayaking and snorkelling (when it the tide isn't too low). Make sure you have reef shoes. The best snorkelling is in the main lagoon. We went on a couple of trips with Kia Orana (Captain Fantastic) - we had also used them on our last trip to Aitutaki. It is a small family operation and takes only up to 8 people. We took a full day tour that included a delicious lunch and on another day had him drop us off on Maina and pick us up later in the day (we took sandwiches, water etc). We also did two diving trips with Bubbles Below where we saw turtles, eagle rays, lots of reef fish and even some whales.

Are-a-Matatui is right next door to Puffy's (simple things like burgers, fish and chips) and a brief walk to Paradise Cove (Island night buffet on Weds nights), Tauono's (fresh stuff from their own garden - this, like most places, is pricey but really worth eating there) and Tamanu Beach Resort (Island night with fire dancers on Thursdays - you can just turn up and watch it for free or you can book for the buffet as well). We rented a car to go further afield as well and can really recommend Cafe Tupuna. We also went for lunch and the island night (with dancers) at Samade.

If you have a family this is probably the roomiest place (as well as Aretai) on Aitutaki and is very well situated.

Room Tip: We personally preferred the beachfront villa, but the villa behind it is so close to the beach it do...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Leah L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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26 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
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English first
Wien
Level Contributor
66 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2013

This was the place of our dreams - staying in one of the bigger houses (two bedrooms) on the property right behind the palm tree line at the beach. It is the most peaceful place we stayed on our many trips. True that the beach infront of the house is not the most kids friendly one (ok for swimming on high tide - bring your reef shoes) but sitting in the sunbed under the palm trees and looking out to the ocean or paddling around with the kajaks refills your batteries and the sunset is out of paradise. For swimming there are many better places easy to reach with a small rental car or scooter (such as infront of the Samade restaurant) and of course the beaches on the smaller motus in the lagoon. The villa was situated in a nice garden and was large and clean with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. TV, radio and phone were out of order but who needs those things in paradise. The little one was playing with the coconuts, shells and crabs outside - so thats the better way of entertaining kids. The only thing needing a real refurbishment are the mosquito nets. But the best was Mama Nichols taking care of her families property - her warm welcome, the fruits we got out of her garden and the stories she was telling us made us feel at home!

About the island itself I can only say one word: paradise!
The locals were very friendly and hospitable. We stayed 10 days so they know you and you get in touch with them which gives you a great inside to island life. I was e.g. invited to join a round of Golf, drinks and sandwiches with the locals - a great experience. Most of the people on the island are really interested in your stories as well. Go to church on Sunday as the voices and songs are amazing. The best part was the lagoon so try to get out there as often as possible. The tours to the lagoon are worth the money and the food they provide is a very positive surprise. Leaving Aitutaki out or staying only one or two nights when visiting the Cooks would really be missing out one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We would love to come again to the island and to Mama Nichols!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Bernd_Wien
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 14, 2013

What a place!!! I loved my experience here, one of the few places I have travelled where I don't feel like a tourist, the people on the island really make you feel like you are just apart of their daily life. The Villa I stayed in was built to suit the place, very tropical and comfortable. We came at a very hot time of the year and we stayed pretty cool relaxing on the terrace in the shade with a nice cold beer! There are kayaks you can use out the front which is great for exploring the lagoon at your door step and if you walk down the beach a couple of meters there is a deep swimming spot. The manager that runs the place is a sweet old lady that made our stay very nice, gave us fruit and coconuts and advice on restaurants and places to go. I advise you rent a scooter or a car from down the road as its pretty cheap and great to be able to ride around the island and cruise back from dinner when it cools down at night. Also highly recommend the boat cruises out to the motu (islands) and to One Foot Island for snorkelling and Lunch, also the island nights as the food is amazing and it really makes you appreciate how you can make some amazing things from some very basic ingredients. Overall our experience was perfect as we like to be self contained and not bothered by people everyday and anything we did need was easy to obtain with the help of "Mama" (the manager) and from the local shops. If there is anything that you think might be hard to get on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere maybe you should bring it with you! It was also very nice to meet the other people in the other villas on the property and to find out how far people travel to come to such a remote island. Such a great place and worth the cost for the experience and to keep places like this here for travellers to enjoy.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Cam M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australind, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 21, 2013

On arrival the villa was closed and we had to wait for the key to be found.

First thing we checked for the cots (this was essential knowing of the girls sleeping habits) to find that there was only one cot out of the two we ordered. The girls did not have their cots and slept on a single mattress on the floor. They were highly unsettled and would not fall asleep easily. We had such a hard time getting them to go to sleep that thought about asking for the cots we had in Rarotonga to be sent over. In Ratatonga where they had their cots as requested the twins were happy.

Are-a-Matatu was promoted as a house on the beach, which it was, but the beach were full of corral and sea slugs which means we could not use it freely for swimming.

The accommodation was far from what we expected. We could not use all of the appliances except for the washing machine. We were told that the owner was in Australia and there was no one to find out what was wrong with the TV DVD Phone etc. The ceiling fan in my room made a noise and kept me awake...could not turn it off because room was too hot. The tap filter did not work and we had to boil water. The accommodation was to be serviced every three days and that did not happen. The room was serviced twice during out stay (11 nights) and mostly the rubbish bin were too small to accommodate our rubbish. Reason given on one occasion for no service is that the room was not done because the apartment was locked. I could go on but I think you have the overall idea of our experience.

Supplies like toilet paper and soap were not readily available. Most of the inquiries were met with ...do not know, owner is not here ...

Some feeble attempts at smoothing things over were apparent from some sort of politeness shown.

Bad Experience

Room Tip: Do not have one. Bad experience. Regardless or your need or request, no guarantee that you will get...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank JosR53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed May 19, 2013

Wow, what a spectacular place only made better by Nani, the host at Are-a-Matatui. Our lodge was amazingly clean and up to date with modern facilities, spacious and extremely private. Aitutaki is an amazing place with pristine clear water right on your door step. We filled our days with kayaking right out the front to the reefs edge, lagoon day trips to the outer fringe islands including 1 foot Island and lounging on the balcony of our lodge. Nani was amazing in making sure everything was organised with minimal hassle. Her scones jam and cream at sunset were to die for. Nani only recommends the best places to visit for a feed or a drink and they absolutely never disappointed. Are-a-Matatui is definitely a place that I will visit again and again and again!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Scott J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 17, 2013

Our first trip to Aitutaki exceeded all expectations - this place is paradise on earth. The accommodation was fantastic and we could have stayed forever. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a relaxing, peaceful holiday and have been to everyone I come across!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Alexandra B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Antigua
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 1, 2013

Whether you see it out the window of a plane or get a first glance of it coming over the horizon, Aitutaki is text book paradise! Her beautiful lagoon and pristine beaches are spectacular, densely covered in coconut palms and endless varieties of exotic tropical fruit trees. We were lucky enough to stay with Nani at Are-a-Matatui in absolute luxury, we feasted on fresh papayas and raw tuna marinated in traditionally made coconut cream and lemon . The days were made up of diving, scooter riding, swimming, boat trips out to the fringeing islands and drinking cocktails....lots of cocktails. As a keen kitesurfer I took every oppotunity to be out at what can only be described as THE BEST FLAT WATER KITE SPOT IN THE WORLD!! Half moon island is a cresant shaped sand cay that provides glass flat water in 30knots of wind, there is a little shack with a BBQ and always an esky full of cold beers.
The best part about my stay in Aitutaki however, was knowing throughout the day that I was coming home to Are-a-Matatui for a cold drink with my legendary friends and a good chat with Nani about the days activities.....'those cheeky boys'

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
1 Thank Angus B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Are-a-Matatui

Property: Are-a-Matatui
Address: Are-a-Matatui, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Location: Cook Islands > Southern Cook Islands > Aitutaki
Amenities:
Beach Free Parking Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Aitutaki
Number of rooms: 2
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Are-a-Matatui provides a perfect tropical escape, set on the white sand and sparkling waters of Aitutaki lagoon. Taste the true island life in this remote location, situated in the heart of the South Pacific, the Cook Islands are a friendly, romantic and safe destination. Polynesian inspired, these contemporary homes are designed and decorated with tropical flair, including artwork by Nana Nicholas and woodwork by local craftsmen. Feel at home in these fully furnished comfortable family homes. Both houses include two spacious bedrooms, each bedroom with it's own large bathroom. Stylish kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Ceiling fans, louvered windows and screens throughout the house for extra comfort. Swim, snorkel and kayak just metres away from the house. Kayaks are provided for your leisure. Be sure to take a cruise around the tranquil islands of the atoll. Enjoy a cool drink, the sand between your toes and watch the stunning sun set on your own private beach front. ... more   less 

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