Hook-shaped Aitutaki's powder-blue lagoon is one of the treasures of the South Pacific.
Further afield, the remote outer islands offer an undiluted taste of authentic Cook Islands culture.
Curling gracefully around one of the most breathtakingly beautiful lagoons in the Pacific, tiny Aitutaki is just an hour in the air from Rarotonga but a world away when it comes to pace of life.
The powder-blue lagoon is studded with deserted motu (islets) just begging to be explored - snorkelling trips, cruises and hiring kayaks are all popular modes of discovery.
The rural back roads are also well worth investigating, with many intriguing marae (sacred meeting places) and some beautiful white coral churches to discover; the latter sprang up when the missionaries arrived in the early 19th century.
The Cook Islands Christian Church in Arutanga, Aitutaki's only town, is the oldest church in the Cooks, built in 1828. Notable features include its stained-glass windows, some finely carved wood paneling and an old anchor that's precariously suspended from the ceiling.