Rarotonga Travel Guide

June 20, 2016

Places To Eat & Drink In Rarotonga

There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink in Rarotonga. Here are a few I recommend:

Breakfast

Cafe Salsa: in ‘downtown’ Avarua and a great place to start your day. Breakfast with a drink goes for $10-15 (NZD) and is served until 2:30 pm. They also do lunch and sometimes even dinner, using their wood oven to bake fresh bread and pizza.

Cafe Salsa Rarotonga Cook Islands

LBV: with several locations around the island, my favorite was in the historical Beachcomber Gallery in Avarua. Sip on a strong cup of coffee and maybe even dive into a buttery croissant, listen to tropical birds happily singing and lagoon waves breaking just meters away.  

Lunch

Tahiti Cafe: one of my favorite places on the island. I just kept coming back here again and again, always going for the combo of sashimi and Tahitian fish salad – served with rice, special sauce and vegetables ($12 for takeaway, $18 to eat inside). It’s only when I made it to French Polynesia, that I fully understood just how authentic the food at this special cafe was.

Tahiti Cafe Cafe Salsa Rarotonga Cook Islands.

Little Polynesian: you don’t have to stay at this beachfront resort to enjoy lunch. Just grab a seat poolside and admire the view of the prettiest beach on the island. I had the open beef sandwich and my first taste of the local brew – Matutu Beer (excellent). Mains go for $15-25.

Food in Rarotonga Cook Islands little polynesian resort

Mooring Fish Cafe: another place I kept coming back to. The sandwiches are simply to die for and the setting super relaxed, in Avana Harbour.

Mooring Fish Cafe Rarotonga Cook Islands

Food in Rarotonga Cook Islands Mooring Cafe

Atmosphere

Trader Jacks: one of the iconic spots in Rarotonga, there’s always a great vibe at Trader Jacks. Grab a drink at the bar or come here for lunch or dinner. I heard they smoke their own marlin so opted for that. It was simply delicious. They also serve dishes from back home, and a meal plus drink will set you back about $30.  

Trader Jacks Rarotonga cook islands

Punanga Nui Market: if you’re in Rarotonga on a Saturday, do not miss the chance to wander around one of the coolest markets in the South Pacific. Aside from shopping and entertainment, there are lots of food and drink options. You can even do some grocery shopping. The market wraps up by noon.

Muri Beach Night Market: grab some food from one of the stalls and find a table beneath the stars. There’s always some form of local entertainment and the best day to visit is Thursday.  

Muri Night Market Rarotonga cook islands

Polynesian dancing child Muri night market Rarotonga

Romance

Tamarind House: come here for a romantic dinner or a fancy lunch. Housed in a 1909 colonial-style house overlooking a wild beach, the setting is magnificent whether you’re dining inside or by candlelight in the garden. The lunch menu is simple but the specials are the real deal. I had the seared tuna with a side of breadfruit and pawpaw (papaya) salsa. Mains range from $20-30.

Tamarind House fine dining Rarotonga Cook Islands

Tamarind house fine dining Rarotonga cook islands

Indian

Raviz: in downtown Avarua and the only Indian restaurant in Rarotonga (I was even surprised to find this one). Takeaway lunch is just $6.95 and they have special offers every day of the week.

Groceries

With self-catering so popular in the Cook Islands, you’ll likely visit a supermarket or two during your visit. Prime Food is good for meat, Wigmore’s is good for fruit, vegetables and healthy stuff, CITC has the largest selection, Foodland is on main street Avarua, and Ocean Fresh (right by the airport) is the best place to buy fresh fish in Rarotonga.

Ocean Fresh fish shop rarotonga cook islands

Local Experience

Progressive Dining Rarotonga: have dinner with a real Rarotongan family, learn about the culture and enjoy a great local meal. Inquire with your accommodation or phone 20-639.

Beach Bars

Shipwreck Hut: definitely the coolest bar in Rarotonga. Come here to watch the glorious sunset and even better – on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays when there’s live music.

Shipwreck Hut beach bar rarotonga cook islands

Isobar: adjacent to Sail’s Restaurant, happy hour goes from 4-8pm. Grab a drink and catch the breeze on the wooden deck overlooking the Muri Lagoon.

Staircase: climb up to the deck, grab a cocktail, maybe some food – and enjoy the views!

Staircase beach bar rarotonga cook islands

Smoothies

Fruits Of Rarotonga: treat yourself to a massive cup of freshly prepared smoothie and pick up some chutney for later.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you’ve found this Rarotonga Travel Guide useful. If you have any questions or your own Rarotonga travel tips, leave a comment below and let’s get the conversation started!

Top Things To Do In Rarotonga Cook Islands - thumbnail wide

7 Days In Rarotonga Sample Itinerary - wide thumbnail

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10 comments

  1. Just been to Rarotonga for 15 days we loved it and fell in love with the place. Stayed at Palm Grove. The place was nice, beach crystal waters I think was the best for snorkelling and swimming what seen around. Friends met there said same as she snorkelled around different resorts. The people so nice, food beautiful. Hired a car as had 2 days free car hire part of package then extended for the next 11 days as bus is costly went on once.. Went to some of the places you mentioned markets, cafe salsa, mooring cafe, LBV, delicious cafe across from LBV best custard slice , spaghetti house, koka lagoon cruise, Te Vara Nui village, highland paradise, fished on the Skies charter then hubby went on the Queen Marlin. Flew out to Aiutaki for the day trip on catamaran to oh my what can I say just Paradise . The water there lagoon unbelievable the colours. Picked up my black pearl from beachcomber as a gift part of our package staying 2 weeks. Hope to go again but for 3 weeks. Didn’t get to some places but left some for next time

    1. Wow Georgina! Sounds like an awesome trip. Thanks for sharing. You did end up staying in a very nice (and quiet) part of Raro. I’m sure there will be a second time!

    1. Hi Ben

      The price of car/scooter is quite cheap so if it’s within budget, I would advise having wheels for your entire stay (there are discounts for long rental periods). However, if that’s not an option, try renting for 3 days for concentrated sightseeing, and use the bus for the rest of the time.

  2. Hi we will be in Rarontonga for 8 days starting March 31 2018 and would like to rent a car for some of the time but having a difficult time finding reasonable prices. Any suggestions We are staying at the Edgewater and their shuttle service is expensive

    1. Hi Susan

      I’ve included in the guide two car rental outfits that offer readers from XDAYSINY.COM discounts on their rental. Did you have a look? I believe the outfits are Polynesian Rentals and Go Cook Islands

  3. we’ll be in rarotonga this December/January for three weeks. Any advice for the cross inland hike?
    What activites would be available in December?

    1. Hi Alison. Hiking during this time should just be taken with extra caution since it’s the rainy season and the trail might be slippery. It’s best to not hike after it has rained but exercising extra caution works as well. All activities are available during December though perhaps some suppliers take time off (most likely not).

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