One of the most enjoyable times on Aitutaki, or any area of the Cook Islands for that matter, is the Island Nights, run by most resorts. You don’t have to stay at a resort to book in for one of these, all you have to do is call and make a booking.
This is a display of the local native costume and dance routines and they do not boast when they say that Cook Island dancers are among the best in the world. Music is to the Pacific Islanders, much more than just the beat of a drum or twang of a catgut chord.
For most of these cultures, their music is their oral history, handed down from generation to generation, remembering their ancestors’ feats. Accompanied by a row of drummers and – of course – the guitar/ukulele, half a dozen of the islands finest strapping young men appear in their wild hibiscus bark skirts with matching calf and arm racks.
They strut their stuff, ring out their challenges (amid the odd giggle or two!) and give you a dazzling display of just how attuned to the beat of a drum a body can really be. The highlight of the evening has to be the island girls however. Absolute sensuality is the only way to describe the way they move, with curves as gentle as the bays of the island and movement as languid as the palm trees we sit underneath, they are a sight to behold.
If that’s what the men of the Bounty saw when they left Tahiti, I am not surprised they planned a mutiny. Who’d want to go back to England’s fog after seeing that? It stands to reason Aitutaki was Captain Bligh’s last visit before he lost command of his ship on Norfolk Island. And that’s not all… with a well timed upbeat of the background drummers, the girls turn and with a flick of their grass skirts, give you an eyeball-stretching demonstration of what one’s feminine hips can really do at high speed. When one knows what one is doing of course!
The other highlight is when they choose members of the crowd to be given a very impromptu lesson in how to dance ‘island style”. Some are naturally inclined to have a reasonable idea, some just haven’t got a clue – but they all have fun, as do those watching them and the camera flashes work overtime!
The other highlight of the evening is the buffet, where you get a chance to taste island cuisine at its best. Some resorts will include food cooked in the umu (oven in the ground), others won’t, so it does pay to ask. But you’ll certainly get the idea of what taro, breadfruit, pawpaw, mango, puki and yams, for example are all about.