What Drinks to Order in the Cook Islands
Treat the tastebuds to the tropical flavours, homegrown brews and more “potent” beverages of the Cook Islands‘ drinks. Whether you’re relaxing at a bar on Rarotonga or ready to experience the traditional drinking customs of the outer islands, know what to order thanks to this list of the drinks in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands you have to try!
1. Cook Islands Lager
Brewed right here on Rarotonga, Cook Islands Lager is the signature brew of the Rarotonga Brewery. This crisp refreshing lager of a clean pale amber and medium-sized head delivers only a mild bitterness that complements the tropical climate where it’s brewed. Cook Islands Lager is sold all over Rarotonga, Aitutaki and beyond, but the best place to try it is via a free tasting at the Rarotonga Brewery itself, located opposite Edgewater Resort. They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm or join one of the brewery tours available from Monday to Friday at 11 am and/or 12 pm.
2. Atiu Island Coffee
The Cook Islands’ coffee-producing island is Atiu, a small uplifted coral atoll some 214 km (133 mi) northeast of Rarotonga. There, you’ll find a small-scale coffee producer, Atiu Island Coffee. Visit the island and you can join the owner, Mata Arai, for an intimate coffee tour to see how the arabica beans are grown and hand-roasted with coconut cream to produce a unique taste sensation – along with tastings accompanied by pikelets. Learn more about the experience in The Food Guide to Atiu: Places to Eat & Food Tours. You can also pick up Atiu Island Coffee in some supermarkets and at the duty-free stores of the Rarotonga Airport international departures lounge.
3. Tumunu Bush Beer
Another drink that the island of Atiu is famous for is its tumunu, small shacks on the edge of villages and plantations that host “bush beer” sessions. Bush beer is a potent homebrew made with orange, banana and sometimes pawpaw (papaya). Head to one of these tumunu bars to truly experience a strong Cook Islands beverage! Bush beer can also be sampled on other pa enua (outer islands), such as Pati’s Bar on Mitiaro.
4. Nu (Drinking Coconut)
A nu is a young coconut ready for drinking! Available all year round, nu are the best way to stay hydrated and get your dose of electrolytes. They can be purchased at many cafes, restaurants, roadside market stalls or even given to you straight from the tree on guided tours.
5. Punanga Nui Market Smoothie
With an abundance of tropical fruit available on the islands all year round, you can bet that the Cook Islands is a glorious place to sip on a smoothie. A popular smoothie spot is the Real Fruit Smoothie stall at the Punanga Nui Market, available all Saturday morning. Otherwise, there are plenty of cafes across the Cook Islands selling refreshing mixes.
6. Cook Islands Coffee Company
Another coffee roaster in the Cook Islands, this time on Rarotonga, the Cook Islands Coffee Company has been roasting coffee on the island since 1999. Their small roadside takeout cafe in Matavera is a popular spot for a morning coffee and croissant, open from 7 am to 10 am daily.
7. Tropical Cocktails and Mocktails
This is an island holiday destination, after all! To fit the bill, the Cook Islands is home to well-trained mixologists and bar staff who can shake up some amazing cocktails in minutes. Check out the 10 Best Bars in the Cook Islands for places to try your “Sex on the Beach” or do a cocktail happy hour tiki tour around Rarotonga with Tik-ebikes & Tours, as explained further in The Ultimate Guide to Rarotonga Nightlife + Happy Hour List.
8. New Zealand, Australian and International Wine
Rarotonga and Aitutaki’s upscale resorts and restaurants certainly don’t cheap out on the wine list, boasting eclectic selections of wine predominantly from New Zealand but also from Australia and the rest of the world. Some of the most extensive wine menus can be found at On The Beach (OTB) and the Pacific Resort Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
The Cook Islands is an idyllic go-to to celebrate special occasions, such as honeymoons, weddings, anniversaries, etc. And what celebration is complete without Champagne?! Tell any resort that you’re staying on your honeymoon and you’re likely to find a bottle of free bubbles chilled in your room – see the 10 Best Honeymoon Packages in the Cook Islands. You’ll also find “Champagne sunset cruises”, for instance on Aitutaki with Teking Lagoon Cruises – see the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do on Aitutaki.
Ok, so it’s probably not a good idea to solely rely on the drinks above to stay hydrated. So, how do you make sure you always have access to safe drinking water in the Cook Islands? Luckily, the islands that most travellers visit in the Cook Islands have filtered water stations in the towns and villages where you can refill your water bottle with UV-filtered water. But if, like us, you don’t want to take any risks of an upset stomach while on your holidays, get yourself a Lifestraw Water Bottle which filters 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria through the straw while you’re drinking through it. We don’t go to any South Pacific island without it! Learn more about the water situation in the Cook Islands in Is the Water Safe to Drink in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
More About Drinks in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Now that you know the best drinks in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands to try, here are some spectacular places to try them!
- 10 Best Bars in the Cook Islands
- The Ultimate Guide to the Cook Islands Nightlife
- The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & Best Resorts for Food
Finally, don’t neglect your stomach too, by sampling the Traditional Rarotongan Food: 10 Foods to Try in the Cook Islands.