The Resorts with the Best Restaurants and Meals in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Sure, the Cook Islands and especially Rarotonga are easy enough to hop from one eatery to the next – just check out The Food Guide to Rarotonga. But if you want to make sure that every dining experience in the Cook Islands is a delight for the senses, then you better stay in one of the best resorts for foodies in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. We’ve listed some of the best resort restaurants, accommodations with exceptional breakfasts and even a surprising self-catering stay you might want to consider. Additionally, we’ve mentioned some outer island stays where every night feels like the “umukai” buffets of an island night!
Before you dig in, make sure you open The Food Guide to the Cook Islands – your complete bible to all things food in the Cooks!
1. Manuia Beach Resort
On the western side of Rarotonga, Manuia Beach Resort captures some of the most breathtaking sunsets from not only its beachfront suites but the acclaimed On The Beach (OTB) Restaurant. Famous for its reasonably-priced three and five-course fine dining dinners, OTB is a must for foodies! If you’re not in a suite on the beach, you’ll be in one set privately among the tropical gardens. All in all, any one of the 24 contemporary units at Manuia provides a relaxed yet beautiful adults-only stay without pretentiousness. See how Manuia Beach Resort compares with others in the 20 Best Adults-Only Resorts in the Cook Islands.
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2. Nautilus Resort
For foodies seeking luxury, indulge in absolute privacy and design choices that can’t help but stun at the Nautilus Resort. Each ‘are (bungalow) here features a private saltwater plunge pool, high ceilings and a spacious layout, as well as a bathroom with “his and hers” basins and a deep freestanding bathtub. But we’re here to talk about the popular Nautilus Restaurant. The fine dining restaurant offers a creative array of dishes on its menu, as well as some of the best vegan options in Rarotonga. See how the resort compares to others on the upscale spectrum in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in the Cook Islands.
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3. Little Polynesian
A five-star adults-only resort set on the sandy shores of southern Rarotonga, Little Polynesian provides an idyllic escape for couples and a restaurant that draws in savvy foodies. Indulge in a delightful breakfast with a tropical smoothie, barista coffee or detox drink around the chic infinity pool which reflects the beach’s swaying coconut palms. Throughout the day, some of their most enticing meals are the island wrap, Mongolian sizzler and antipasto platter. As for accommodation, each of the 14 intimate studios feels private enough between the tropical gardens and the beachfront. Needless to say, this little resort also features in the 10 Best Boutique Accommodations in the Cook Islands.
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4. Pacific Resort Rarotonga
All the boxes are ticked for an effortless vacation at the Pacific Resort Rarotonga, including sensational dining among three different spaces at the on-site Sandal Restaurant & Barefoot Bar. Either dine alfresco, in the sophisticated interiors of the main restaurant or in a casual booth at the beach-themed bar where highlights include ika mata, a pawpaw prawn cocktail and the Pacific Sizzler. Rooms and villas, on the other hand, are nestled among the winding paths of impressively manicured gardens or on the shores of Muri Beach. Learn more about your stay here in the 20 Best Resorts on Rarotonga.
Check Pacific Resort Rarotonga out:
- Pacific Resort Rarotonga on Booking.com
- Pacific Resort Rarotonga on Trip.com
- Pacific Resort Rarotonga on Expedia
5. Castaway Resort
A fabulous option on the western side of Rarotonga, Castaway Resort is the resort of the hugely popular Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant, yet only guests aged 16 and over can stay, ensuring a tranquil setting throughout the day. The resort is all about the fun with a diverse theme at their restaurant each night, a beach bonfire on Sundays and a “Whale Bell” to ring if you spot a humpback whale from their deck! Their beach bar is the only one in Rarotonga with the bar actually on the sands, while the Japanese barbecue bar snacks and 25-page dining menu really elevate the foodie experience. Trust us, you’ll want to eat here at least a few times.
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6. Ikurangi Eco Retreat
Easily one of the most unique accommodations in the Cook Islands, Ikurangi Eco Retreat not only offers the unusual location of stay inland on Rarotonga but also safari tents for an adults-only glamping experience. Be treated to a different contemporary and creative breakfast delivered to your deck each morning, such as chia seed pudding, bircher with an island smoothie and croissants with smashed avocado. The accommodation also has a garden swimming pool and bikes to explore the Rarotonga backroads. Check out more sustainable stays in the 10 Best Eco Resorts in the Cook Islands.
Check Ikurangi Eco Retreat out:
- Ikurangi Eco Retreat on Booking.com
- Ikurangi Eco Retreat on Trip.com
- Ikurangi Eco Retreat on Expedia
7. Rainbow Villas
For foodies seeking a self-catering accommodation, perhaps to spruce up your own meals using local island ingredients, Rainbow Villas offers two boutique villas nestled among unique permaculture gardens. Pick whatever is in season in the lush gardens surrounding the outdoor pool and cook up a storm in your luxury self-catering villa, beautifully designed for couples. Enjoy an alternative view of Rarotonga as you unwind on your elevated deck overlooking the lush golf course. Of course, we also list this option in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in the Cook Islands thanks to the supermarket in your garden.
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8. Sunset Resort
As the name suggests, Sunset Resort benefits from the wonderful sunsets captured along Rarotonga’s Arorangi Beach, but what gets us the most excited is the proximity to the exceptional Anchorage Restaurant. It’s your go-to on the island for Pacific cuisine done right – see The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants for more details. Your complimentary breakfast is also served here each morning. As for your stay, choose from an array of suites, studios and two-bedroom apartments, all with at least a kitchenette, plenty of space to keep the rooms airy, and non-objectional decor. There are also two generously sized pools at this resort.
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9. Divine Retreat
When talking about foodie experiences in the Cook Islands, some of the most authentic Cook Islands food can be sampled as part of your accommodation’s offerings in the outer islands. For instance, the modern guesthouse Divine Retreat on Mitiaro includes a daily tropical breakfast each morning, while additional meals are available and certainly recommended to sample all sorts of local dishes, some of which you can find in The 10 Foods to Try in the Cook Islands. As for rooms, you have one ensuite bedroom, two bedrooms with a double bed and a shared bathroom, as well as three queen-sized beds on the deck with curtains for privacy (yes, you can sleep outside)! See how Divine Retreat compares to the 10 Best Guesthouses in the Cook Islands.
10. Babe’s Place
Another outer island experience that foodies will love is an affordable stay at Babe’s Place. Enjoy the homely atmosphere and experience warm hospitality on the island of Mangaia as all three meals a day are included in your stay! Breakfast is a tropical affair of fruit and toast/cereal with jam, lunch is typically pretty light with sandwiches, while dinner is a buffet of local meat and vegetables in traditional styles – all served with refreshing drinking coconuts! If you need to prepare anything in between, the kitchen is open 24/7. Your room is basic but well-kept with colourful bedsheets, mosquito nets and a private patio area with outdoor furniture. See more stays like this across the country in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in the Cook Islands.
More About the Resorts in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands with the Best Restaurants and Meals
That’s it for our list of the best resorts in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands for foodies, but how can you bring these stays together? Check out our foodie itineraries for inspiration:
- The Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 14 Days
- The Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 10 Days
- The Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 7 Days
- The Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 5 Days
- Rarotonga Food Itinerary: 3 Days
Finally, if you haven’t yet found the perfect place to rest your tastebuds, start from scratch with Where to Stay in the Cook Islands: The Best Cook Islands Accommodations. Plus, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & More.