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Aitutaki’s stunning lagoon, brimming with marine life and ringed by 15 palm-covered motu (islets), is a South Pacific tearsure. Maina (Little Girl) offers superb snorkelling and is home to the red-tailed tropicbird, once prized for its crimson feathers. Nearby is the wreck of cargo freighter Alexander, which ran aground in the 1930s. Tapuaeta’i (One Foot Island) is the best-known motu, fringed by white beaches and divided from its neighbour, Tekopua, by a deepwater channel that’s teeming with tropical fish.
Akaiami motu is where the old TEAL flying boats landed to refuel on the trans-Pacific ‘Coral Route’ between Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti – the remnants of the old jetty can still be seen.