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"On landing I was mesmerised by the beauty of this island, the warmth of the people and the small island community feel it has. I could see out the window little faces peeking out from the airport shack alongside the runway, waiting to welcome back their loved ones and also curious to see the new faces coming to visit their little paradise"

DISCOVERING A LITTLE PARADISE
Those are the words of Alisha Street from Rarotonga who is one of few visitors to Mitiaro. And she's kindly allowed me to share her experience of this picture-perfect island using extracts from her blog
Mitiaro airport shack
Alisha in the Vai Marere cave
Stunning stactites look down on the cave
You'll find caves all over the Cook Islands, but Mitiaro has some of the most stunning.  Vai Marere is a sulphur cave pool just a ten minutes walk from town and a popular swimming spot.  But it was Vai Nauri that particularly stunned Alisha
"This place is unlike any other, the most amazing vibrant, stunning fresh water cave! Anywhere else in the world this spot would be overcrowded.  We were so lucky to have it to ourselves amazed by the incredible rock formations above (above right). There was an access by a little ladder to the north end of the cave ...The water is tranquil, vibrant blue and crystal clear and it completely took my breath away!"

Te Ara
Akapa
Above left: Te Ara on the south west side of the island was one of Alisha's favourite spots. Above right: A little further along is the long white sandy beach of Akapa which she says is a wonderful place to stop for lunch and to snorkel

"Just out front from where the little track brings you, there is a perfect little coral cove to swim in. We spotted all types of amazing tropical fish in these coral caves!"
Inland plantations
A little way inland from the main village, plantations are set in lush green rain forest.  Alisha says they're another 'must visit'

"You will often see a local visiting and feeding their pigs and goats, planting and harvesting the family taro patch and cutting down bunches of bananas to take back to their family"
Outise Mitiaro's CICC
Scouts and guides head for church
Sunday is a day of rest and just before 9 am, Alisha headed down to the Cook Islands Christian Church. Her visit coincides with drum/youth church week and  that makes for some more special memories.
"Sitting in church we start to hear drum beats, the sound of the drums getting closer and closer to the church. It's the Girls and Boy Scouts of Mitiaro parading through town to the entrance of the church. The Cook Island flag raises as most of the population congregate in the church.  The mamas and papas begin to sing, oh those cook island hymns … Amazing the beautiful gracefulness. Throughout the church service I couldn't help but think how blessed I am to take partake in this occassion."
Mitiaro's rugged coast
And as Alisha's short visit comes to an end, words on her blog make it clear that Mitiaro has left a lasting impression on her.

"The humbleness of the people, the relaxed way of life here is something to truly appreciate and admire! I can see they still hold on to their traditions, culture and values being displayed in everything they do, always looking out for each other. This Island is a true magical untouched little island gem in the South Pacific. Definitely worth a visit !"
Please pay a visit to Alisha's web pages for a much fuller account of her visit, including that church service and her top ten things to do on Mitiaro. You can also follow her on Facebook.  All photos are her copyright.