If you are familiar with Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, you most likely associate the island with see-through lagoons, coconut palms and idyllic motus (small islands).
It’s a postcard-perfect destination where visitors can often claim large swaths of shoreline all to themselves.
It also happens to lack much height. Its tallest peak, Maunga Pu, reaches only 407 feet. Though not exactly Mount Everest, Maunga Pu is still worth a visit.
That’s because the 30-minute ascent to the summit awards climbers with a 360-degree view of the island’s outerwear: a surrounding lagoon, a ring of reef and many motus for added color. Plus, as my partner and I found out during our wet season ascent, the maunga (mountain) itself is incredibly lush and swoon-worthy, dotted by fringing palms and tall grasses. It’s mostly a gradual climb until the very top, when a steep ascent got our hearts racing for the finale.
And it didn’t disappoint. Like most other incredible views in Aitutaki, we enjoyed the perch — and what seemed like the entire island — all to ourselves.