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Photographer's Note

There's a long discussion between travellers about which is the world beautiful island, of the tropical ones for nature, shape, mounts, lagoon, forest, diving...
Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa, Aitutaki, Roatan, Isla del Coco, Perhentians, Kho Phi Phi...

I knew many people that have as reponse just one word: Aitutaki, for the blue lagoon, for One Foot Island.

I think that are all wonderful place and that it's really hard to make a list.

And sometimes it happened that you found after many years some pictures about a travel did 7 years ago, with some good images of Cook Islands and French Polynesia.
The pictures were ghost ones, lost somewhere and totally forgotten!

It was a great surprise!

In that image there is a view of One Foot Island lagoon in the Atoll of Aitutaki, Southern Group of Cook Islands.

*Scanned image*
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Aitutaki, traditionally known as Araura, is one of the Cook Islands, north of Rarotonga. It has a population of approximately 2,000. Aitutaki is the second most visited island of the Cook Islands. The capital (main village) is Arutanga (Arutunga) on the west side.
Aitutaki is an atoll, located at 18°50′S 159°45′W. It has a maximum height of approximately 123 metres with the hill known as Maunga Pu close to its northernmost point.

The reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands (including Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua).

The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki's most important features. Towards the south of the side is a break in the atoll, allowing access for boats to the lagoon which covers most of the southern part of the triangle. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island, with a further break in the atoll allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga.

An airstrip is located close to the triangle's northern point, and there is an area suitable for the landing of flying boats in the southern part of the lagoon.

Polynesians probably first settled Aitutaki around AD 900. The first known European contact was with Captain Bligh and the crew of the "HMS Bounty" when they discovered Aitutaki on April 11, 1789, prior to the infamous mutiny.

Aitutaki was the first of the Cook Islands to accept Christianity, after LMS (London Missionary Society) missionary John Williams visited in 1821. Today you can find the oldest church in the country, the CICC (Cook Islands Christian Church) in Arutanga, which was was built by missionaries Williams had left behind.

In 1942 New Zealand and American forces were stationed on the island, building the two-way airstrip that can be seen today. This airport, and one on the northenmost island of Penrhyn, were to be used as bases by the Allies during the Second World War against the Japanese. The first aircraft, an American light bomber, landed on November 22, 1942. When the war ended some of the servicemen remained and married the locals.

During the 1950's Aitutaki's lagoon was used as a stopover for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) flying boats on the famous Coral Route. The islet of Akaiami was used as a resting stop for passengers, who often lay about until the aircraft was refuelled for two hours. These operations ceased in 1960, and the only reminder are the remains of the purpose-built jetty on Akaiami. The flying boat 'Aranui', which was part of this service, is now on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

More recently, in 2001, Steve Fossett passed over just south of Aitutaki in the balloon Solo Spirit during his round-the-world trip.

In 2006, the island was used as the location for the tribal council in Survivor: Cook Islands. Surrounding islands were used for tribal camps and crew locations. One of the tribes was named Aitutaki after the island.

Aitutaki is famous for its turquoise central lagoon, uninhabited islands and palm-fringed beaches. Another advantage is that until now it has been spared by mass tourism. Noteworthy also are an old church and some gigantic Banyan Trees (ficus prolixa).

One Foot Island, a small islet in the south-east of the lagoon, is often said to be the most important attraction. It is regarded as providing the visitor with the best views of the Aitutaki lagoon and depending on the tide one is able to walk on a sandbank a decent distance away from One Foot Island. The trip to this island is the most frequented trip available on Aitutaki and is bookable in most hotels.

Air Rarotonga offers daily flights and a day tour from Rarotonga.

From Wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3747 W: 144 N: 8842] (41254)
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