Notched into the raised fossil coral reef that completely surrounds Atiu are about 28 coral sand beaches. Some are almost inaccessible and very secluded. Other can be reached easily, but all are seldom visited. Atiu's population lives in the centre of the island and other than for fishing and yearly picnics the people do not visit the shores. Seldom is a beach visited and found to have someone on it. But anyway if this does occur, the next beach will almost certainly be free.
Taungaroro is our best beach. It is described by David Stanley in the South Pacific Handbook as one of the best beaches in the Cook Islands. We agree. Depending on the sea the swimming lagoon can be calm and tranquil or boisterous and possible to surf.
The three grottos are worth a visit. These are pools under the cliffs and linked to the sea. One of these grottos is currently filled with sand so as at 20 December 2002 there are only two grottos accessible. Finding these grottos can be difficult. The best way is to travel 1100 metres south of Tarapaku Landing or until you see a dead tree trunk standing 4 metres tall and with 100 mm diameter red and yellow dots on it. Next to this trunk is a path to just south of the three grottos.
Atiu is rising from the sea. This has resulted in the reef being close to shore and easily accessed. Bring tennis type shoes to walk the reef. The closeness of the reef means also that the lagoon is not very deep except in isolated pools.
One spectacular pool we call the coral garden lies on a kilometre stretch of the lagoon on the south coast. The lagoon is a metre above mean sea-level but the tide is only 0.8 of a metre. The lagoon is kept full by waves from storms near Antarctica crashing over the reef and filling the lagoon. Sometimes these waves stop and the lagoon empties through a sinkhole. All the fish go into the one deep spot left which we call the coral garden. If you are lucky and this happens while you are here expect an awesome time snorkelling the coral garden.