Takutea location map
Population 0
0.5 sq mls/1.3 sq. kms

Takutea aerial
Twenty kilometres (12.4 miles) north west of Atiu is the tiny coral cay of Takutea. It's only 6 metres (20 feet) above sea level at the highest point and most of it's covered in coconut palms. Access (which is restricted) is only possible on the leeward side in calm weather as the island is surrounded by unbroken reef

Red tailed tropicbird
Red footed boobie bird
Thousands of red tailed tropicbirds and red footed boobies (above left and right)  nest on the island, which is one of the most important sea bird breeding grounds in the Pacific region. Feathers from the tropicbird are gathered for traditional costumes.  Terns, noddies and frigatebirds are also found in large numbers.  The kota or great frigatebird (centre) that nests there has become an unofficial emblem for the Cook Islands. 

No doubt the birds have thrived because Takutea is the only island in the Cooks never to have had a permanent population.  Even when some of Captain Cook's crew went ashore over 230 years ago, there was no evidence of a permanent settlement, although they found some empty huts.


Great Frigate Bird

Island leaders on Atiu have signed an agreement with the not-for-profit environmental organisation,to designate a 297 acre wildlife sanctuary on Takutea. A five mile restricted fishing zone has been set up around the island and it's illegal to land or fish in that area

The agreement means no changes will be allowed to the natural environment for 20 years.  The organisation - SeaCology - have previously funded environmental protection work on Mangaia.

Pristine Takutea reef
Sunset on Takutea
Where no man has gone...
The island is surrounded by a pristine, unbroken reef. It's free of dead coral and includes features that experienced divers say are seen nowhere else on the planet. Below, the island and its reef as seen from the air on a flight between Atiu and Aitutaki
You won't find the island on any surfers' guide, but 400 metre wide rides are possible according to islanders on neighbouring Atiu. Three expeditions have attempted the challenge over the years, but none has succeeded
Most of the pictures on this page are courtesty of Atiu island's own web site which has been written by islanders themselves and is highly recommended
118 miles/189 kms
North East of Rarotonga

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The island has been designated a wildlife sanctuary.  It's administered by a Trust and special permission is needed to visit even for landowners. Takutea Trustees, the Atiu Trust, the Island Council and the National Evironment Service all have to be consulted and approve
staghorn coral
Surf Takutea
400 metre wide waves
Protected shoreline
You can find out more about birdlife on Takutea and throughout the Cook Islands at the
 Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust Biodiversity Website.  
"I did not sail off the end-of-the-world after all! I found a magical little uninhabited island, where time stands still.  Well, I sort of did, anyway.

We went diving at Takutea Wildlife Sanctuary and about fell over backwards within one minute of getting into the water - we had stumbled onto a divers paradise"
Log of Captain G, skipper of the RV Bounty Bay

Wide angle of Takutea
Dr Graham Wragg
The Research Vessel, Bounty Bay is based in Rarotonga and its operators are the only people allowed to take tourists to Takutea.   They've been granted special permission by the High Chief of the Trust who manage the island.   One of the reasons for this is that they are also dedicated conservationists.   Captain G (Dr Graham Wragg, pictured above right) and his team have many years experience of running expeditions around the Pacific
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The island is sometimes still called Enua-Iti which means Small Island.    Captain James Cook recorded that name in his journal when he reached the island on 4 April, 1777 and sent boats ashore to collect food.   
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Nesting frigate bird chick on Takutea
ISLANDS: SOUTH  Takutea    You might also want to explore: Another deserted island