7-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 1 week! With 7 days at your disposal, you have just enough time to explore not one but two of the atolls of the Cook Islands, from the vibrant markets on Rarotonga to picnics on the uninhabited islands of Aitutaki. So, pack your bags and ready your knife and fork because this 7-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 1-Week (7-Day) Itinerary for Foodies
How to Get Around the Cook Islands in 1 Week
This Cook Islands food itinerary for 7 days (1 week) 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 1 week.
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, Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands.
For all of your transport options, however, check out the Cook Islands Transport Guide: 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 the flurry of “Kia Orana” and floral ‘eis (neck garlands). It’s the customary Cook Islands greeting that most of the 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! Otherwise, check out The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants for alternative dining recommendations.
Day 2 – Explore Avarua + Muri Night Market
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.
Dining Recommendations – Muri Night Market/Island Night
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. Find out more about the market in the 5 Best Markets in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
One of your evenings on Rarotonga should definitely include one of the island’s acclaimed “island nights” complete with cultural dancing and, of course, a variety of Cook Islander dishes all in one eclectic buffet. This may also want to be a consideration for your second day on Rarotonga! Compare island nights across Rarotonga using the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Day 3 – Road Trip Around Rarotonga + Make Your Own Umukai
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 and the Papua Waterfall. For more places to visit on your road trip around the island, check out A Self-Guided Day Trip Around Rarotonga.
Dining Recommendations – Make Your Own Umu Kai/Progressive Dinner
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.
Otherwise, enjoy a more relaxing foodie experience on 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.
More details about both of the experiences can be found in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga.
Day 4 – 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.
Day 5 – 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, islet visits but also 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 dinner 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 6 – 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, enjoy the casual alfresco ambience of the Avatea Cafe with its island-inspired contemporary cuisine!
Check out more dining experiences in The Food Guide to Aitutaki.
Day 7 – Fly to Rarotonga + Departure
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.
Remember to arrive at Rarotonga International Airport a couple of hours before your scheduled departure from the Cook Islands so that you have enough time to check in, go through security and browse the duty-free. If you want something to remember the Cook Islands by, have one last browse of Rarotonga International Airport’s duty-free stores with black pearls, rito earrings, local perfumes, coconut oils and more. Check out the 12 Best Souvenirs from Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for more ideas.
And it’s “ka kite” from the Cook Islands!
Alternative Cook Islands 1-Week Itineraries
Is this 7-day food itinerary for the Cook Islands not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for 7 days/1 week:
- Rarotonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 7 Days
- Aitutaki Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 7 Days
- Cook Islands Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: 7 Days
- Rarotonga Family Itinerary: 7 Days
- Cook Islands Luxury Itinerary: 7 Days
- Cook Islands Adults-Only Itinerary: 7 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.