Like the other raised atolls, Mitiaro has a close reef, no large beaches, a ring of makatea and a centre of more fertile land. At just 250, its population is one of the smallest in the Cook Islands.

Every island is in some way distinctive, however, and in Mitiaro's case its singularity lies within the two lakes - Rotonui (Big Lake) and Rotoiti (Small Lake) - which are a little way inland on the eastern side of the island. These are the only sizeable freshwater lakes in the Cook Islands.

The lakes are home to prawns and eels, both a delicacy, but particularly the eels, which are called itiki. The edges of the lakes are sedgy and uninviting, the water brown and brackish, but the eels which are caught in the water are delicious, their flesh pink and full of flavour.
Itiki is like caviar to the Cook Islanders.
Mitiaro Caves
freshwater cave

Eels always return to the sea to spawn, so it can be assumed that the itiki of Mitiaro find their way to the surrounding sea through subterranean channels. Not even an eel could negotiate the razor-sharp rock of the makatea without grievous injury to itself.

Mitiaro eels, like eels everywhere, move in mysterious ways. But whatever the route they take,
the itiki elvers return eventually to the twin lakes of Mitiaro, to fatten there and be harvested for consumption.

Two flights per week from Rarotonga and small guest lodges make visits to Mitiaro possible for tourists.

  Mitiaro from the Air
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