The Best Food Experiences and Places to Eat on Rarotonga
Rarotonga is a destination for treating all of the senses. There’s no need for “resort meal plans” here – most resorts don’t even bother, instead, encouraging you to explore the flavours and foodie experiences around the island. In the 45 minutes it takes to circumvent the entirety of Rarotonga, you’ll come across fine dining on the beach, casual cafes, food trucks by the sea, bustling markets and pass tour buses and tuk-tuks transporting adventurous travellers between locals’ homes and cocktail bars. There’s a lot to unpack! Let’s get to it with this ultimate food guide to Rarotonga, including the best food tours and places to eat.
The 10 Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga
Where are the best places to eat on Rarotonga? Here’s our ultimate list of the best restaurants and cafes with something for all tastes and budgets.
- On The Beach (OTB) Restaurant & Bar (Manuia Beach Resort, Arorangi)
- Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (Castaway Resort, Arorangi)
- The Cafe (Avarua)
- Beluga Cafe (Arorangi)
- Antipodes (Nikao)
- The Anchorage Restaurant, Bar & Cafe (Sunset Resort, Arorangi)
- Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar (Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Muri)
- Charlie’s (Titikaveka)
- The Kai Guy (Avarua)
- Muri Night Market (Muri)
Scroll down to “About The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga” to learn more about our top picks!
The Best Food Tours on Rarotonga
Make indulging your palate part of the experience by partaking in one of the amazing food tours on Rarotonga. From cultural affairs, such as island nights and the progressive dinner, to romantic meals organised just for you and your loved one, the Rarotonga food tours are certainly a treat for the senses.
Progressive Dinner Tour
A must-do for foodies on Rarotonga, the Progressive Dinner Tour removes the barrier between “tourist” and “local” for an evening of authentic cuisine. Join Cook Islands Tours as they transport you across the island for a three-course dinner with each course in a different local home. It’s your opportunity to sample the real flavours of Rarotonga and experience the generous hospitality of its locals.
The energetic dancing from the island’s warriors and princesses is only part of the experience of a cultural show, otherwise known as an “island night”. The other part is devouring plate after plate of all kinds of traditional Cook Islands dishes from the buffet prepared in an “umu”, i.e. a Polynesian underground oven.
Rarotonga’s cultural shows can be found in various resorts, at the historical site of Highland Paradise or at the overwater venue of Te Vara Nui Village. See the 7 Best Island Nights in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands to compare your options.
Punanga Nui Market
The vibrant Punanga Nui Market along with the sights, sounds and tastes of a local gathering is a treat for all the senses. Try an array of tropical fruit, smoothies and other street eats at the food stalls. Don’t forget to check out the food stalls (like Baby Pancakes and The Waffle Shack) at the sheds on the east side of the market.
Note that the Punanga Nui Market is only open Saturdays. Find out more in the 5 Best Markets in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Brewed right here on Rarotonga, Cook Islands Lager is the signature brew of the Rarotonga Brewery. Just across the road from the Edgewater Resort, the brewery is open Monday to Saturday for free beer tastings and from Monday to Friday for brewery tours. Enjoy a casual affair with a local brewer showing you how they make the good stuff, as well as brews they’re currently working on.
More Food Tours on Rarotonga
And that’s not all the food scene on Rarotonga has to offer. Check out alternative food tours, such as:
- Preparing your own umu with Tumutoa Tours
- Making some “fruitful” discoveries on an inland walk with Ariimoana
- Hitting all of the hottest cocktail spots with Tik-ebikes & Tours
- Having a romantic private dinner on the beach
- Indulging in a gourmet platter anywhere with Island Platters
- Having the ultimate street food experience at the Muri Night Market
- Treating the tastebuds at Rarotonga’s cafes, food trucks and restaurants…
… For elaboration on each activity, check out the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Rarotonga.
About the Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga
There’s such an array of eateries on Rarotonga that, unfortunately, you just won’t have time to hit them all. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work of narrowing it down to some of the most memorable dining experiences, whether they’re fine dining or at a humble food truck.
Where to Eat: Restaurants
Easing you into the fine dining scene while still remaining casual enough with your feet in the sand, On The Beach (OTB) (Arorangi) 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 Fridays.
Wilson’s Beach Bar & Restaurant at the Castaway Resort (Arorangi) 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.
For a night of Pacific cuisine done right, head to The Anchorage Restaurant Bar & Cafe (Arorangi). 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 of the Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar (Muri) is open to everyone. Dine alfresco by Muri Beach, in an elegant dining hall or at the casual Barefoot Bar. Either way, you have access to the same Pacific and internationally-inspired menu with something for everyone. Try the “Pacific Sizzler”; you’ll hear it before you see it coming.
Home of the Rarotonga Sailing Club, RSC Beachfront Bar & Brasserie (Muri) 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.
See more recommendations in The Best Places to Eat on Rarotonga: 10 Best Restaurants.
Where to Eat: Cafes
Behind the colourful shipping container seen from the roadside hides a cool beachfront cafe. Charlie’s Cafe (Titikaveka) offers irresistible prices to go with their irresistible burgers, salads, huge sandwiches, snack plates and sharing plates.
Home to the best custard squares on the island, Deli-Licious Cafe is a must-try in Muri. Dine here for their big breakfast, plant-based salads and omelettes or simply pop in for your morning coffee and custard square (FYI, they usually sell out by 10 am).
The place to be in Avarua town centre is The Lucky Rooster. Enjoy contemporary cuisine, as well as local choices like ika mata, among the seating areas decorated with plants both inside and out. They also offer a wide range of beverages, from coffee to smoothies to cocktails.
Another cafe option in Muri is Le Bon Vivant, which most know as LBV! The cafe is a good place to pick up a fresh baguette, cake or antipasto skewer from the counter or have something made to order to enjoy among their gorgeous gardens.
Get more inspiration from the 10 Best Cafes on Rarotonga.
Where to Eat: Vegan and Vegetarian
Get your “big city” cafe experience in the tiny village of Arorangi with Beluga Cafe. This trendy spot not only does great coffee (and the best hot chocolate on the island) but has a creative menu of Pacific and international fusion cuisine. Their vegan platter is enough to make you go “wow”, certainly elevating your lunchtimes.
When it comes to fine dining on Rarotonga, most will point you in the direction of Antipodes (Nikao). 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, including one (just one) but one of the most creative vegan and vegetarian dishes on the island.
Contemporary cuisine and sweet treats can be enjoyed for a reasonable price at Kai & Co. (Avarua). Their signature vegan dishes are their smoothie bowls and vegan burgers, but the flamboyant counter cakes and doughnuts will surely tempt you.
Find more vegan and vegetarian options in the Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for Vegans & Vegetarians + 10 Best Restaurants.
Where to Eat: Markets and Food Trucks
The best market for local and international street food is the Muri Night Market, happening on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5 pm. It’s when the island’s food trucks gather together for a whirlwind of tastes.
The vibrant Punanga Nui Market (Avarua) is the place to be on a Saturday morning. Try an array of tropical produce, smoothies and other treats at the food stalls, as well as browse plenty of locally-crafted souvenirs.
For your food truck fix, we recommend The Kai Guy (Avarua). Indulge in fresh ingredients used to make affordable tacos, gyros and burritos. They also do some wonderful vegetarian options.
And don’t miss Palace Takeaways (Avarua) for their famous Wednesday NZ$3.50 burgers!
For more street food options, check out The Top Cheap Eats on Rarotonga.
Alternative Things to Do on Rarotonga
As much as the food tours and places to eat on Rarotonga are delectable, you can’t travel all the way here just for the food. You’re on an island with a unique culture and among some of the most stunning volcanic peaks and lagoons in the South Pacific! So balance out your stay with alternative activities, such as:
- Snorkel off the shores at the Aroa Marine Reserve, Fruits of Rarotonga and more
- 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.
More About Rarotonga
That’s it for our food guide to Rarotonga and the best places to eat on Rarotonga, but not the end of our Rarotonga advice! Check out these other guides that might not necessarily fall under the “foodie” category, but are still pretty useful:
- The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga on a Budget
- The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga for Families
- The Wedding, Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Rarotonga
- The Luxury Guide to Rarotonga
- The Adults-Only Travel Guide to Rarotonga
- The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga
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 road trip with the Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 5 Days and Cook Islands Food Itinerary: 7 Days.