10-Day Foodie Trip to the Cook Islands: Including Rarotonga and Aitutaki!
Travel is an experience for the senses, so dive into the flavours of the Cook Islands, mouth-first, with this Cook Islands food itinerary for 10 days! With a full 10 days at your disposal, you have enough time to explore not one but two of the atolls of the Cook Islands, from the vibrant markets on Rarotonga to the uninhabited island picnics of Aitutaki. So, pack your bags and ready your knife and fork because this 10-day food itinerary of the Cook Islands will blow your mind and, most importantly, your palate!
While you’re here, don’t forget to open The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & More, which is your complete foodie bible to the Cooks!
Overview: Cook Islands 10-Day Itinerary for Foodies
- Day 1 – Arrive on Rarotonga
- Day 2 – Explore Avarua
- Day 3 – Road trip around Rarotonga
- Day 4 – Foodie hike on Rarotonga
- Day 5 – Free day on Rarotonga
- Day 6 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki
- Day 7 – Experience the Aitutaki Lagoon
- Day 8 – Road trip around Aitutaki
- Day 9 – Fly to Rarotonga + progressive dinner
- Day 10 – Last day on Rarotonga.
How to Get Around the Cook Islands in 10 Days
This Cook Islands food itinerary for 10 days includes travel on two islands, as well as between these islands. Here’s a quick rundown on how to get around the Cook Islands in 10 days.
Road Transport in the Cook Islands
The first road transport you’ll encounter on each of the islands you visit is your airport transfer. On Rarotonga, this must be booked in advance with your resort or with one of the airport shuttle companies, as outlined in the 8 Best Airport Transfers. On Aitutaki, airport transfers are usually provided free of charge by your accommodation.
For travelling on each of the islands, car and scooter hire offer the most convenience. Get advice on car hire from What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands and for scooters, see the 10 Tips for Riding a Scooter in the Cook Islands. On Rarotonga, however, you also have the option of taking the bus, which is compatible with this itinerary. Find out more about the bus in our guide, The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.
Interisland Transport in the Cook Islands
The only manageable way to get between Rarotonga and Aitutaki is via domestic flight. Flights are approximately 50 minutes, while approximate airfares can be found in our guide to Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands.
For all of your transport options, however, check out the 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.
Day 1 – Arrive on Rarotonga
Welcome to Rarotonga! After the arrivals process of going through customs and biosecurity, you’ll step outside of the arrivals hall to a flurry of “Kia Oranas” and floral ‘eis (neck garlands). It’s the customary Cook Islands greeting that most airport transfers supply with enthusiasm! If you want to get your trip off to a real “foodie” start, choose Raro Tours‘ private transfers with sparkling wine and/or juice provided for the journey to your accommodation.
Since it’s your first day in the Cook Islands, take it easy and get settled at your chosen accommodation. After check-in, relax by the pool, have a paddle with the kayaks provided at your resort, sip on cocktails and transition to “Raro time”. We’ll go over a few things you can do on Rarotonga tomorrow.
Rarotonga Resorts with Amazing Restaurants
- Little Polynesian Resort
- Pacific Resort Rarotonga
- Castaway Resort
- Manuia Beach Resort
- Nautilus Resort
- Crown Beach Resort & Spa
- Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach
- The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
- Sunset Resort
Find out more about each resort and more in the 10 Best Resorts for Foodies in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands and the 20 Best Resorts in Rarotonga.
For your first night, make things easy for yourself by eating at the restaurant of your chosen accommodation. All of the resorts recommended above have very reputable restaurants that many people travel across the island for! You’ll have enough time to explore the rest of Rarotonga’s dining scene in the upcoming days.
Day 2 – Explore Avarua
It’s time to explore Rarotonga! The capital, Avarua, is a good place to start when seeking foodie experiences…
Things to Do in Avarua
Take the bus and head to the Punanga Nui Market on Saturday mornings – an event not to be missed whenever Saturday falls during your trip!
Further into town, explore some of the town’s historical buildings and sit down for a coffee or cocktails at one of its delightful cafes – The Lucky Rooster and The Cafe are two of our favourites. If you’re vegan/vegetarian, the contemporary cuisine of Kai & Co. is a highlight! Finally, pick up some naughty treats complete with tastings at Cook’s Fudge Factory.
For more things to do in town, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Avarua.
Tonight, explore more of the dining scene of Rarotonga. If it’s either Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday, don’t miss the Muri Night Market for its whirlwind of flavours and street food. Alternatively, enjoy three-course fine dining at OTB of the Manuia Beach Resort. Find out about OTB and more in The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.
Day 3 – Road Trip Around Rarotonga
Experience the flavours of Rarotonga as you hit the road for a self-guided trip around the island. Then, conclude your day by making your own umu kai with Tumutoa. More on that below!
Today, take a bit of a roadie around the island, either by renting your own vehicle or getting a day pass on the bus. Either way, you’ll be able to stop by an array of cafes and food trucks, such as Beluga Cafe in Arorangi, Charlie’s Cafe in Titikaveka with its watersports equipment hire, or The Kai Guy food truck just outside of Avarua.
In between the dining delights, stop by Rarotonga’s best snorkelling beaches like Tikioki Beach, check out historical marae like Arai-Te-Tonga and snap up natural wonders like Black Rock. For more places to visit on your road trip around the island, check out A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga.
This evening, make an experience out of your dinner with Tumutoa Tours! Join a characterful island warrior who will teach you how to prepare your own umu kai, a traditional Polynesian style of cooking. While you gorge on the fruits of your labour, sit back with an amazing fire show. More details about the experiences can be found in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga.
Otherwise, if you prefer to dine out again, check out The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours for more dining recommendations.
Day 4 – Foodie Hike on Rarotonga
It’s time to walk off some of that Cook Islander cuisine with a hike on Rarotonga featuring food!
Food-Orientated Island Hikes
Join Ariimoana for one of the family’s island walks where you’ll discover edible plants and fruit found along an inland hiking trail with incredible views! Alternatively, Tumutoa Tours offers a similar experience with an option to do an easy walk through tropical gardens and plantations or a more demanding hike up the Raemaru Mountain. Find out more about these experiences, again, in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga and 8 Best Guided Walks in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
You have plenty of restaurants to indulge in across Rarotonga! Try the “Pacific Sizzler” at Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar of the Pacific Resort, sample superb South Pacific cuisine at Anchorage Restaurant & Bar, or Mediterranean fine dining at Antipodes. See The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants for more details on each.
Day 5 – Free Day on Rarotonga
Today is your opportunity to do some of the non-foodie-related activities that Rarotonga has to offer, from lagoon cruises to off-roading buggy tours.
Alternative Things to Do on Rarotonga
- Snorkel off the shores at the Aroa Marine Reserve
- Hike the inland trails like the Cross Island Trek
- Cruise the Muri Lagoon
- Try surfing or kitesurfing
- Swim with turtles
- Go off-roading on a buggy or quad bike
- Treat yourself to a spa day
- Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the island…
… and much more! Check out the details of these activities and get more inspiration in the 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga. Otherwise, more foodie suggestions can be found in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga.
Wherever you end up today, enjoy a delivery from Island Platters where they prepare an indulgent gourmet platter for you anywhere on the island! Beach picnic, anyone?
Alternatively (or additionally), experience one of Rarotonga’s acclaimed “island nights” complete with cultural dancing and, of course, a variety of Cook Islander dishes all in one eclectic buffet. Compare them across Rarotonga using the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Day 6 – Rarotonga to Aitutaki
Return your rental car if needed then take an airport transfer or the bus to the domestic terminal of Rarotonga Airport where you’ll take your flight to Aitutaki – see our Aitutaki Transport Guide for more details.
After a scenic 50-minute flight, you’ll meet your accommodation representative at Aitutaki Airport (complete with floral ‘eis) who will transfer you to your chosen accommodation for check-in.
Aitutaki Accommodations with Amazing Restaurants
- Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort
- Pacific Resort Aitutaki
- Etu Moana Boutique Beach Villas
- Aitutaki Village
- Tamanu Beach Resort
- Paradise Cove Lodge
Learn more about these resorts in 10 Best Resorts for Foodies in the Cook Islands and the 10 Best Resorts on Aitutaki.
You’ll have plenty of time to explore Aitutaki in the next couple of days, so relax at your resort. All of the resorts listed above have delightful dining options. If one of the days you’re on Aitutaki falls on a Thursday, however, you simply have to head to the Tamanu Island Night to watch captivating cultural dancing and drumming along with traditional Aitutakian meals at the umu kai buffet. It offers a slightly different and more relaxed vibe than the island nights on Rarotonga, so is well worth checking out even if you have already experienced an island night. Find out more about it in the 7 Best Island Nights in the Cook Islands.
Day 7 – Experience the Aitutaki Lagoon
It’s your first full day on Aitutaki, so experience its “must-do”, the Aitutaki Lagoon!
How to Experience the Aitutaki Lagoon
You have many options when it comes to cruising the lagoon on Aitutaki – just take a look at the 10 Best Lagoon Cruises on Aitutaki. Any one of the daytime cruises is well worth experiencing to snorkel among crystal clear water, visit uninhabited islets, and indulge in an island barbecue for lunch. Alternatively, join Kutekute Tours & Transfers for their private sunset tour, including all the same snorkelling spots and islet visits but also incorporating a delectable private island platter at sunset!
More details about the experiences mentioned above can be found in the 8 Best Foodie Experiences on Aitutaki.
Should you not take the sunset option, then you’re going to need some evening dining recommendations. For fine dining, choose Rapae Bay Restaurant of the Pacific Resort Aitutaki with its elevated views over the lagoon. To eat where the locals eat, head to The Boat Shed Bar & Grill with awesome seafood platters. Learn more about these eateries and get more recommendations in The Best Places to Eat on Aitutaki: 10 Best Restaurants on Aitutaki.
Day 8 – Road Trip Around Aitutaki
Relax this morning at your resort, then do some exploration on dry land today with a sprinkle of foodie experiences in between.
Save A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Aitutaki on your phone, grab a rental car, scooter or bicycle and hit the road with its scenic lookouts, stunning beaches and historical sites. Grab some cheap eats from one of the local takeaways and take it to one of the many scenic picnic spots around the island – we like Vaipae Wharf, the Arataki Lookout and Piraki Lookout.
Everything you need for an awesome day exploring Aitutaki is in the day trip itinerary linked above.
For breakfast or lunch, enjoy the sustainably sourced meals spruced up by the fabulous Koru Cafe. Or, if you prefer a quiet night in your self-catering accommodation, they offer barbecue packs too. Alternatively, we recommend the casual alfresco ambience of the Avatea Cafe with its contemporary island cuisine.
Check out more dining experiences in The Food Guide to Aitutaki.
Day 9 – Fly to Rarotonga + Progressive Dinner
Check out of your accommodation and a representative will transport you to Aitutaki Airport. Then, say goodbye to the quieter side of the Cook Islands as you fly back to Rarotonga today. We recommend making your way back to Rarotonga a day before departure, not just to spend more time on Raro but just in case there are cancellations or rescheduling of your flight – you wouldn’t want to miss your flight back home, would you? Wait, would you?!
Accommodation on Rarotonga
Tonight, we recommend staying at Ikurangi Eco Retreat, not only for their unique glamping setup but for their thoughtfully curated breakfasts delivered to your deck in the morning. Although Ikurangi doesn’t have a restaurant, you won’t need to be dining are your accommodation tonight…
Learn more about Ikurangi or see alternative accommodation recommendations in the 10 Best Resorts for Foodies in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Make your last night on Rarotonga extra special with the Progressive Dinner Tour with Cook Islands Tours. You’ll be transported to three different local homes for entrees, mains then dessert. It’s a truly local and uplifting experience for the palate and the soul. (Note that if staying at Ikurangi, you’ll need to make your way to the main road for pick-up).
Day 10 – Last Day on Rarotonga
Delight in your Ikurangi breakfast. Then, it’s time to say goodbye to the azure lagoon waters and silky sands of Rarotonga and the Cook Islands as you depart for your next destination.
If you want something to remember the Cook Islands by, have one last browse of the craft and gift shops of Avarua and Rarotonga International Airport’s duty-free stores with black pearls, rito earrings and fans, local perfumes and more. Check out the 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for ideas.
Remember to arrive at Rarotonga International Airport a couple of hours before your scheduled departure so that you have enough time to check in, go through security and browse the duty-free. Airport transfers are a little cheaper for your departure flight, so check them out in the 8 Best Airport Transfers in Rarotonga.
And it’s “ka kite” from the Cook Islands!
Alternative Cook Islands 10-Day Itineraries
Is this 10-day food itinerary for the Cook Islands not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for 10 days:
- Cook Islands Island-Hopping Itinerary: 10 Days
- Cook Islands Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 10 Days
- Cook Islands Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: 10 Days
- Cook Islands Family Itinerary: 10 Days
- Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days
- Cook Islands Adults-Only Itinerary: 10 Days
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed from this Cook Islands food itinerary, you’re likely to find it in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & More.