I am incredibly blessed that my job takes me to some of the most spectacular places in the world and this trip was no exception. Aitutaki is a tiny gem amongst an archipelago of 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands and is the kind of place that makes you question reality. Also traditionally known as Araura, Ararau and Utataki it sits North of Rarotonga at only 123m above sea level. Quite simply it is an untouched paradise full of my favourite things; turquoise lagoons made up of sparkly azure water, swaying palm trees and frangipanis, clear blue skies, uninhabited islands and blinding white sand that all seemed to serenade. I was there to coordinate a shoot with the mermaid that is Pip Harwood of Seagypsea Photography and one of Billabong’s beautiful and talented athletes; Felicity Palmateer to create social media content. With one night spent on the main island of Rarotonga we made our way to Aitutaki.
Our days started early, before the sun made an appearance and wrapped up after the perfect shot was captured in the fading light. We were constantly in a state of awe, and I have never ever been so mesmerised by the colour of the water….I now have an image as my desktop screensaver and one hanging in my lounge – postcard perfection would be a perfect alliteration to describe this special part of the Cooks. With each of us having our very own beach front bungalow, it was hard to believe it wasn’t all a dream.
The day out to Tapuaetai (One Foot Island) was a true highlight and a moment that will be etched in my memory for years to come; and stamped in my passport! They allow your passport to be stamped with the cutest footprint at the post office that sets up there each day. Cruising through the lagoon, being photobombed by giant trevally fish and exploring never-ending sand banks and drop offs was unreal. All topped off with finding a deserted island for a feast of freshly caught mahi mahi, the sweetest pineapple and passionfruit I have ever tasted and spinning yarns to our legend of a boat driver was quite literally the best day out in my books.
In the evenings we enjoyed sashimi fit for queens, soothed our sunkissed skin and sipped on fresh coconuts in our beachside bungalows at Pacific Resort. Our hearts couldn’t have been more content as we rested our weary heads; already excited to wake up and explore some more. I think the Kiwi influence on the Cooks makes it feel like an island home away from home but I feel pretty blessed heaven on earth is quite literally in my backyard.
Working hard, or hardly working in the Cook Islands….. Check out the Billabong images here to see the end result! Thanks to Pip from Seagypsea for some of the images you see here – you can immerse yourself in some of her other imagery here.