Heaven on Earth

A sandy slice of exclusivity and barefoot luxury awaits in the Cook Islands

By Steve Colquhoun 22/09/2019

A Bedouin-style four-poster tent sits on a picture-perfect beach facing a stunning sunset, on an idyllic island in the middle of a startlingly turquoise lagoon. A barefoot waiter presents a chilled drink and a carefully crafted menu boasting unique, local delicacies. Heaven? Not exactly. Though Aitutaki is damn close.

Although not as widely known as its neighbouring island of Rarotonga, Aitutaki is considered the gem of the Cook Islands group in the middle of the South Pacific. With its stunning island-strewn lagoon, friendly locals, sleepy lifestyle and boutique-style resort accommodation, it’s the little-known romantic getaway that’s easily accessible from the Australian east coast and New Zealand.

This ‘deluxe private dining experience’ is exclusively offered to guests of the luxurious Pacific Resort Aitutaki, where 29 lavishly appointed rooms overlook the pristine ocean on the west side of the island, each with direct beach access A sandy slice of exclusivity, and barefoot luxury, awaits in the Cook IslandsHeaven on Earth

Rapae Bay

It’s on this beach, at the base of the rocky bluff on which the resort’s highly regarded Rapae Bay restaurant is perched, that I find myself lounging on a giant white bean bag beneath that picturesque Bedouin canopy, my own personal barefoot waiter standing by attentively. That early evening moment remains forever etched on the back of my eyeballs and not just because of the spectacular blazing orange orb in front, edging ever closer to the western horizon. No, this is the sort of experience you assume would only ever be accessible to billionaires or royals, yet for $300 all of this (excluding the à la carte food and drinks) along with its priceless social media potential, can be yours for one memorable and romantic evening.

The top-tier premium beachfront villa to which I retire – one of three on the property – also feels fit for a king, with 125 square metres of floorspace over four spacious rooms, two balconies and even a secluded garden courtyard complete with an outdoor shower. Apart from a mandatory cruise to explore the vivid, luminescent lagoon (there are large-scale guided and catered trips available, as well as private charters for those seeking more privacy and control) there’s thankfully little else to do on the island except grab a sun lounge next to the infinity pool overlooking the beach, order a cocktail and forget the rest of the world exists. Not a difficult task in a location as remote and beautiful as this.

This excerpt comes from our 2019 Spring Edition – Best of the Best, to get your copy click here.


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