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.
- 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