The Best Restaurants on Rarotonga
No tropical getaway is complete without treating yourself to at least a couple of dining experiences. On Rarotonga, it’s certainly no different with all sorts of dining opportunities within easy reach on the main road. From fine dining to casual beachfront cafes, there are a variety of vibes going on, while cuisine obviously reflects the seafood delights of the South Pacific yet international influences can be found everywhere. Discover the best places to eat on Rarotonga, right here, in this list of the best restaurants on Rarotonga.
Before you jump in, however, see local delights to look out for in the 10 Foods to Try in the Cook Islands.
1. On The Beach (OTB) Restaurant & Bar – The Best Seafood Restaurant on Rarotonga
Easing you into the fine dining scene while still remaining casual enough with your feet in the sand, On The Beach (OTB) is not to be missed! Fronting the Manuia Beach Resort, the beachfront restaurant is renowned for its NZ$60 three-course menu most days and five-course menu on a Friday. Every course is carefully prepared by a different dedicated chef and headed by veteran cuisiner, Phillip Nordt, who’s famous on the island for his TV cooking show and other foodie ventures, including the Botanical Bakery in Avarua.
Location: Manuia Beach Resort, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
2. Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant – The Biggest Menu on Rarotonga
Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant claims to have the most comprehensive menu in the South Pacific and they have the 25-page menu to prove it! With seven chefs serving up Japanese, Italian, European, Indian and, of course, Cook Islands cuisine, you’re sure to find something to suit even the fussiest eater.
Although it may seem that Wilson’s is having an identity issue, what they do they do well. If you can’t decide, then head to one of their themed nights: Monday pasta, Tuesday a la carte, Wednesday Mexican, Thursday pizzas, Friday seafood, Saturday curry and Sunday a barbecue with a bonfire on the beach. Their bar is also literally on the beach, making for a quirky place to hang out while sipping grandiose cocktails.
Location: Castaway Resort, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
3. Trader Jacks – The Most Iconic Restaurant on Rarotonga
Let’s get this one out of the way early! Trader Jacks has been the island’s main watering hole and social meeting place since 1986, and is on everyone’s lips when you mention Rarotonga. But does it live up to the hype? Well, the restaurant offers so much on the menu for it not to! Pop in for lunch for their fresh fish sandwich or indulge in “Jack’s Big Burger” or local-favourite, the “Catch of the Day” for dinner. The restaurant is set above the bar offering an elevated view of the ocean and the Matai Shipwreck, while the bar is on a lower level with the “Pizza Shack” keeps punters well fed.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), eastern end of Avarua.
4. Antipodes – The Best Fine Dining on Rarotonga
When it comes to fine dining on Rarotonga, most will point you in the direction of Antipodes. Perched on the hillside of Black Rock, the Mediterranean-inspired villa with three levels of dining area basks in wonderful views and sunsets. Of course, the food matches the theme right down to the extensive wine list. Needless to say, you’ll need to make a booking a few nights ahead for this hotspot! See more eateries like this in the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Ara Matua (inland road), Nikao (just opposite the hospital road).
5. The Anchorage Restaurant, Bar & Cafe – The Most Underrated Restaurant on Rarotonga
For a night of Pacific cuisine done right, head to The Anchorage Restaurant Bar & Cafe. Nestled in gardens beside the Sunset Resort, the restaurant offers a relaxed undercover dining atmosphere, as well as staff with smiles. Their seafood options are a highlight, especially the sesame seed crusted tuna with coconut rice, but there’s plenty on the menu to suit all tastes. The restaurant on Rarotonga is an excellent option for couples, adult groups and families with older children.
Location: Sunset Resort, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Arorangi.
6. Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar – The Best Restaurant Service on Rarotonga
The restaurant of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar is open to everyone and, well, everyone should go! Dine alfresco by Muri Beach, in an elegant dining hall or in the casual Barefoot Bar. Either way, you have access to the same Pacific and internationally-inspired menu with something for everyone. We recommend the “Pacific Sizzler”, before you inevitably see (and hear) the sizzling hotplate go past you in a cloud of steam in the hands of the wait staff. Additionally, the “Shrimp and Pawpaw Salad” is a refreshing take on a shrimp cocktail that’s worthy of an Instagram shot.
Location: Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
7. Charlie’s – The Best Cheap Restaurant on Rarotonga
Behind the colourful shipping container seen from the roadside hides a cool beachfront cafe. Charlie’s Cafe offers irresistible prices to go with their irresistible burgers, salads, huge sandwiches, snack plates and sharing plates – a great cafe on Rarotonga for meals together. The watersports hire here will give you another reason to stay longer. They are open for lunch and dinner with live music and happy hour from 4pm to 6pm. We also list this restaurant in The Top Cheap Eats on Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Titikaveka.
8. RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie – The Best Restaurant in Muri
Home of the Rarotonga Sailing Club, RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie offers a casual setting for a relaxed meal with friends and family. While the general crowd is catered to with burgers, wraps and some decent vegetarian options, the dishes that really “wow” are the seafood, meat-lovers and antipasto platters. With an elevated deck overlooking Muri Beach, the fantastic location is another reason why this is one of the best places to eat on Rarotonga.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri (next to Captain Tama’s).
9. Nautilus Restaurant – The Best Fine Dining in Muri
For fine dining Polynesian style, head to the Nautilus Restaurant of the luxury Nautilus Resort. Enjoy elegance inside or a more relaxed alfresco experience on the patio overlooking the resort’s lagoon pool and the Muri Lagoon. They specialise in garden-to-plate dining with Polynesian signature dishes and European fusion food. See similar dining options in the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Muri.
10. Vaima on the Beach – The Best Restaurant on the Beach on Rarotonga
Last but certainly not least, you can hardly beat the location of Vaima on the Beach and the food isn’t half bad either. The casual beach restaurant offers a toes-in-the-sand dining experience on the southern coast of the island that captures some wonderful sunsets. The food here is a hearty affair with slow roast pork belly, beef wellington and fish of the day all making an appearance on the menu. With a pizza menu and kids’ menu, the restaurant on Rarotonga is also an excellent choice for families.
Location: Main Road (Ara Tapu), Vaimaanga.
More Places to Eat and the Best Restaurants on Rarotonga
That’s it for our list of best restaurants on Rarotonga and the best places to eat on Rarotonga. If your mouth is still watering for more, check out other recommendations in the following guides:
- The Food Guide to Rarotonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours
- 10 Best Cafes on Rarotonga
- 10 Best Bars in Rarotonga
Finally, check out the hottest eateries across the country in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & Best Resorts for Food.