The Top Markets and Night Markets Across the Cook Islands
The culture and community spirit of the Cook Islands can be felt like nowhere else at the local markets. They’re a treat for all of the senses with opportunities to sample authentic local cuisine and international street food prepared to perfection, as well as browse amazing local crafts, such as black pearls, rito hats, pareu (sarongs), eis (garlands) and so much more – just check out the 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for ideas. With live music and other entertainment typically complementing the experience, there is rarely a dull moment at the markets in the Cook Islands.
So, which market will you try out? We have them all listed here in this guide to the best markets in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands!
What Days are the Markets in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands?
- Monday – N/A
- Tuesday – Muri Night Market (from 5pm)
- Wednesday – Muri Night Market (from 5pm)
- Thursday – Muri Night Market (from 5pm)
- Friday – Arorangi Night Market (every two weeks from 4pm), Friday Morning Market (Mangaia, from 5.30am)
- Saturday – Punanga Nui Market (morning until noon), Hayley’s Market (Mitiaro, morning)
- Sunday – Muri Night Market (from 5pm).
1. Punanga Nui Market
The Punanga Nui Market in Avarua is, without a doubt, the most famous market on mainland Rarotonga. The market comes to life on a Saturday morning until noon when the island’s passionate artists, chefs, growers and gatherers come together in a whirlwind of tropical produce, smoothies, barbecued treats, pareu (sarongs) of all colours and locally farmed black pearls. It’s a sight on Rarotonga not to be missed!
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), west end of Avarua (north end of Rarotonga).
When: Saturday morning until noon.
2. Muri Night Market
Another market to migrate to on Rarotonga is the Muri Night Market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5pm. It’s the place for cheap eats when the island’s food trucks gather together with an eclectic array of flavours. You’ll be sorted for dinner and dessert, as well as get to mingle with the locals and other travellers at this buzzing event. Check out more must-do food experiences like the Muri Night Market in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Cook Islands.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (east side of Rarotonga).
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5pm.
3. Arorangi Night Market
You won’t miss your night market fix on the west side of Rarotonga thanks to the Arorangi Night Market! Held every other Friday from 4pm until 8.30pm, the Arorangi Night Market is your opportunity to sample a mix of Polynesian and Asian cuisine with a focus on smaller plates so you can sample more! Enjoy live music, local arts and crafts, games for kids and more as you support small local businesses.
Location: Flying Turtle Cafe/Ariki Adventures, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi (west side of Rarotonga).
When: Every fortnight on a Friday from 4pm until 8.30pm.
4. Mangaia Friday Morning Market
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting the outer island of Mangaia, set your alarm on Friday morning because you won’t want to miss one of the best foodie experiences on the island! The Friday Morning Market starts at a gut-wrenching 5.30am, but don’t worry, that’s mostly for locals to pick up fruit and vegetables early. A good time to go for trying the local cuisine, like “tiromi” (a fried taro and coconut cream disc) and “poke” (baked banana, tapioca flour and coconut cream), is around 7am, with most things selling out and wrapping up by 8.30am. Check out more food experiences on the islands listed in The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Location: Southern end of the sports field, Oneroa village (west side of Mangaia).
When: Friday morning from 5.30am to 8.30am.
5. Mitiaro Markets
The locals of the outer island of Mitiaro love an excuse for putting on a market, whether it’s when a “big” group of tourists arrive on the island or it’s the Saturday “Hayley’s Market“. The latter began when a local kid (aged 7 at the time) started the market to fundraise for fishing gear for a competition on the island. Either way, ask the locals when the next market is, which typically includes a local lunch (hot dogs and breadfruit fries, for example) or freshly baked treats (scones and coffee are usually served at Hayley’s Market), as well as local crafts like shell eis (garlands), woven bags, tivaevae pillowcases, printed pareu and more.
Location: Markets typically take place outside the village hall in Mangarei village (west side of Mitiaro).
When: Varied – ask the locals when the next market is.
More About Markets in the Cook Islands
That’s it for the best markets in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Check out more shopping and food opportunities in the guides below:
- The Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- The Guide to Shopping in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands + The Best Places to Shop
- The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & Best Resorts for Food
Finally, discover more experiences beyond food and shopping listed in the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands: The Ultimate List.