The day dawned sunny but breezy and proved to be an ideal day for snorkelling. An aerial view of Aitutaki and it's lagoon is very beautiful but when in a boat the turquoise waters feel like such a vast expanse and you get a very different impression of what this island and it's surrounds are all about.
We were picked up by 'Captain Fantastic' of Kia Orana Cruises and driven in a rickety old van to the harbour. 'Kia Orana' means welcome in Cook Islands Maori. With 4 other people, two couples from Australia, and an elderly lady originally from Aitutaki and her granddaughter and a friend, we went out into the lagoon. The 83 year old lady was living in New Zealand and said she was making her last trip out into the lagoon and wouldn't be coming back to her homeland again. She was a cheerful soul who laughed all the time and I have never seen someone so happy in old age. One of the Islands we visited was called 'Heaven' and I suggested to her that she might like to come ashore but she said with her great laugh she wanted to go to the real Heaven.
We stopped after a while and did some snorkelling. The variety and colours of the fish were amazing. There some huge grey fish whose name I can't remember and one even bigger (humphead wrasse) that swam by us very close. The coral itself is not so colourful here as in other places in the world. We then went on to see some giant clams and stopped off at a number of Islands and sandspits, some of which I can name: Honeymoon Island where they do kite surfing, Maina where we had lunch, Rapota, which was used for filming the BBC series Shipwreck, Moturakau and Tapuaetai, which is known as One Foot Island. The lunch was a fantastic assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables including freshly cooked smoked parrot fish all served up in a bowl made out of leaves. Andrew, or Captain Fantastic as he called himself, built the shelter himself on an otherwise uninhibited island. There was a kite surfer camping in one corner of the island who was staying there for several weeks surviving off food that he had brought with him. On Honeymoon Island we found a small fluffy white chick left in the undergrowth while it's mother was away fishing. We could get really close to some of the birds here as they seemed to have no fear of humans. Some of the Islands we visited even have bantams on them. They seem to be everywhere.
This was truly a day that words cannot do justice and I will let the photos do the talking.