Entrance to Anatakitaki cave
Cave tours are available to many coral limestone caves. All are spectacular and we list the most visited here. There are many others. If you are into caves you could easily spend all of your time on Atiu underground.
The caves of Atiu show obvious signs of being caved out by the fresh water that flows off the volcanic acidic soil of Atiu and through the Makatea. With each change in sea level, tunnels are carved out at that level to allow the fresh water though. A present day example of this is the Tiroto Tunnel. There is another tunnel like this in Tengatangi district that can only be accessed from the sea. The caves listed here are caves that were carved out when the sea level was higher.
Anatakitaki cave in particular is the home of the kopeka. A bird unique to Atiu, which is able to echo-locate in the dark cave to find its nest. The birds nearest living relative is on Guam.
Tiroto Tunnel connects Atiu's lake to the sea. It is possible to wade down this tunnel almost to the sea. The last part of the tunnel is underwater. You can tell you are close to the sea because the flow moves backwards and forwards with the wave action and because there is clean white sand underfoot. Wading this tunnel is an adventure. It is sometimes called the mud tunnel.
Rima Rau burial cave is worth a visit. 'Rima' is five and 'Rau' is two hundred in the Atiu language. So Rima Rau means one thousand dead. This must be an exaggeration. It is more likely to be 50. There are many legends about who's bones lie in the cave. One legend tells of a famous battle, another a of cannibal feast, and yet another a story of revenge. Ask your guide or host to tell the stories.
A single bird in anatakitaki,the Kopeka bird cave
Nurau and Vai Akaruru water caves are fun to swim. Nurau has a vertical sinkhole that drops down from the cave floor to a new level completely underwater. This sinkhole is the entrance to an underwater labyrinth incompletely explored in 1997 by Australians David Goldie and Paul Tobin. Diffuse light filters down to the waters in Vai Akaruru cave making this cave easy to swim.
Te Ana O Raka is an easily accessed burial cave. However as Aue Raka's ancestors are interred in this cave it is important to gain permission to enter.
Pau Atea cave is long and has many passages. There are many other caves in the area and these are thought to interconnected. It is easy to get lost in these caves.