The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism
The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours

The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours

© Taniera – Cook Islands Tourism

The Best Food Experiences, Bars and Restaurants on Mangaia

Mangaia might be the oldest and the second-largest island in the Cook Islands, but when it comes to restaurants… Awkward! With so few tourists visiting the island (less than 1% of the Cook Islands’ visitors each year) and the locals preferring to share meals than make too much of a commercialised practice out of it, Mangaia doesn’t have much need for restaurants. That by no means suggests that there aren’t any ways to experience the local food here! Your hosts will look after you, sprucing up generous meals made with local produce, while island tours, the local market and hidden foodie gems like “Mangaian doughnuts” provide fun ways to discover Mangaia’s food culture.

So, plan your foodie getaway with the best food tours and the best places to eat, using this complete food guide to Mangaia!

The 3 Best “Restaurants” on Mangaia

Where are the best places to eat on Mangaia? Well, there technically isn’t any! But hey, if you were looking for the best restaurants on Mangaia, these alternatives for a drink and/meals are the next best thing:

  1. Friday Morning Market (Southern end of the sports field, Oneroa)
  2. Mangaia Fishing Club (Opposite Avarua Landing, Orongo)
  3. Your accommodation meals (Babe’s Place).

Scroll down to “About The Best Places to Eat on Mangaia” to learn more about these places to eat/drink!

The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

The Best Food Tours and Experiences on Mangaia

While there aren’t any dedicated food tours on Mangaia, sampling authentic local cuisine is all part of the experience of simply being here! You’ll be served local meals at your accommodation and try local produce as you explore the island on one of Mangaia’s guided tours. The market and the local grocery stores also have some local treats to sample.

Island Tours

Considering much of Mangaia is covered in pineapple, taro and copra plantations, simply taking a guided tour around the island becomes a foodie experience.

Not only will you see many of the sights that are on private land and are difficult to find, such as caves and marae, but tours usually stop at local fruit trees, either to show you them or to try them if they’re in season. You’ll also get to learn about how Mangaians harness the natural irrigation system the island offers as you tour taro and pineapple plantations.

Now, there are no “formal” tour companies on the island, but your accommodation or the Island Administration, whose office is located at the southern end of the Oneroa sports field, can arrange a tour with whichever local enjoys taking tourists around, is free at the time!

Friday Morning Market

A must-do for foodies on Mangaia is waking up early for the Friday Morning Market. The market starts at a gut-wrenching 5:30 am, but don’t worry, that’s mostly for locals to pick up fruit and vegetables early. A good time to go for trying the local cuisine, like “tiromi” (a fried taro and coconut cream disc) and “poke” (baked banana, tapioca flour and coconut cream), is around 7 am, with most things selling out and wrapping up by 8:30 am.

Your Accommodation’s Meals

Want to eat what the locals eat? It doesn’t get more authentic than the meals served at your accommodation! Babe’s Place puts on wonderful spreads, especially for dinner with local vegetables and fruit served with drinking coconuts. Mangaia Villas gives guests the option to purchase meals, all made with seasonal produce. Find out more in our guide, Where to Stay on Mangaia: The Best Mangaia Accommodations.

Akeke Trading’s Mangaian Doughnuts

One final foodie experience not to be missed on Mangaia is sampling the freshly baked doughnuts from Akeke Trading. The store bakes around 130 of these oversized ring doughnuts every other morning (except Sundays). Pop in and see why the locals love them. You can find Akeke Trading along Te Makate Road, Oneroa.

The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

About The Best Places to Eat on Mangaia

Awkwardly enough, Mangaia doesn’t have any formal restaurants or cafes to dine in. Instead, your accommodation will sort you out, providing guests with delicious local meals, while the island’s fishing club and Friday market are about the only other ways to grab a drink or a bite to eat. Luckily, your accommodation has kitchen facilities, so you can sort out all of the meals in between if needed.

Mangaia Fishing Club (Bar)

Set across from Mangaia’s harbour, Avarua Landing, the Fishing Club isn’t just a great place to watch the sunset. Join the locals for a cold beer on the deck and even watch whales in the season. The Fishing Club occasionally puts on food too, but we wouldn’t go there on an empty stomach – just in case. The Fishing Club is more of a watering hole.

Friday Morning Market

As mentioned, the Friday Morning Market isn’t just a fun foodie experience but a great place to try local treats outside of your accommodation. Find the market at the southern end of the sports field in Oneroa, starting at 5:30 am until 8:30 am. The best time to come is 7 am.

Accommodation Meals

At the end of the day, the best place to eat on Mangaia is at your accommodation. Babe’s Place includes three meals a day for guests: breakfast is a selection of local fruit, bread/cereal and jam (sometimes Mangaia doughnuts), while dinner is a small buffet of local dishes with something different to try each night. Lunch is less exciting, usually sandwiches.

Find out which accommodation is right for you by making a full comparison in our guide, Where to Stay on Mangaia: The Best Mangaia Accommodations.

The Food Guide to Mangaia: Places to Eat & Food Tours© Taniera - Cook Islands Tourism

Alternative Things to Do on Mangaia

As much as dining on Mangaia is an experience, you can’t travel all the way here just for the food. You’re on one of the oldest and most unique raised coral atolls in the South Pacific! So balance out your stay with some of the alternative activities, such as:

  • Seeing the glittering caves of Tuatini or Te Rua Rere
  • Climbing down the ladder to the hidden paradise of Ara’oa Beach
  • Hiking up to Mt Rangimotia, the highest point on the island
  • Checking out the Saragossa Shipwreck
  • Snorkelling or reef walk at the Tuaati Rock Pools
  • Experiencing the glorious choir singing at the historic Tamarua CICC Church

… And the list goes on in the 15 Best Things to Do on Mangaia.

More About Mangaia

That’s it for our food guide to Mangaia and the best places to eat on Mangaia, but not the end of our Mangaia advice! Check out these other guides that might not necessarily fall under the “foodie” category, but are still pretty useful:

Finally, discover even more foodie trip tips in The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & Best Resorts for Food and plan your foodie trip across the islands with the Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 14 DaysRarotonga & the Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 10 Days and Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 7 Days.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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