LOCATION: 189 kms/118 mls North East of Rarotonga
ACCESS: Restricted. Written permission to visit required
LAND AREA: 1.3 sq.kms/0,5 sq. mls
There is no commercial access. The island is 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 Environment Service all have to be consulted and approve
The island has been declared a community conserved area and is designated as a wildlife sanctuary. Thousands of red tailed tropicbirds and red footed boobies nest there and it's one of the most important sea bird breeding grounds in the Pacific region. The island is surrounded by a pristine, unbroken reef and fishing is prohibited within a specified area. The deeper areas off the Takutea reef are habitat for nursing humpback whales
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 240 years ago, there was no evidence of a permanent settlement, although they found some empty huts
A RARE HARVEST
The island also has an abundance of seafood in its waters and crab on land. Harvesting is rare but in 2023, after much planning, discussions and special permission, Atiu islanders set out on an expedition with strict quotas and an important purpose in mind. Atiu Fishing Club coordinator, Takili Talagi-Tairi said the idea was to teach the young generation not to overharvest in the future. Clams (paua), coconut crabs and crayfish were collected and shared among Atiu residents Photos: Cook Islands News
The pristine reef surrounding the island includes features that experienced divers say are seen nowhere else on the planet. Currents converge near the Island, and on the surface of the ocean waves as wide as 400 metres are a surfer's dream according to islanders on neighbouring Atiu. They also enable turtles to find their way safely onto the island to lay their eggs and nurture them.
Many of the photos on this page are courtesy of Atiu's own website which islanders themselves have created
Research scientist and expert diver, Graham Wragg was given speical permission to visit the island and he took away memories to last a lifetime
"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"
Photo: Graham Wragg
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.
DISCOVER THE OTHER DESERTED ISLAND IN THE COOKSEXPLORE MANUAE