Find out where to eat in Rarotonga for delicious food and delightful drinks. Learn about the 12 best restaurants which you need to try in Rarotonga for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
I know I am on holiday when I can just sit back relax and know there are some excellent eateries within a close distance. As a foodie, this is a must when booking a holiday. And as I have visited The Cook Islands on 3 different occasions I am quite knowledgable as to where to eat in Rarotonga.
Searching out the most delicious burgers, ice creams and treats is a must for each time I visit. That is why I feel like a bit of an expert on the topic so who better to bring you this guide to where to eat in Rarotonga and the best restaurants in Rarotonga.
There are a variety of places to eat here. Whether that is the seaside food trucks, burger joints, ocean-view restaurants, markets, or fancy hotel eateries. Though, with all these options it can get a little overwhelming, especially if you want to try them all. That’s why I have created the ultimate list of where to eat in Rarotonga!
Sit back and relax while I tell you the best places to try, what I recommend, opening hours, location, and more. Essentially don’t worry about bringing a belt because we are about to go on a delicious adventure!
Where To Eat In Rarotonga: Best Restaurants & Cafes All Tested And Tried
Breakfast In Rarotonga
LBV – Le Bon Vivant
LBV or Le Bon Vivant is an amazingly delicious eatery and is my number one recommendation for where to eat in Rarotonga. Expect a gorgeous outdoor setting, vibrant surrounding gardens, and many little chicken families it is the perfect place to start your day.
Which an amazing range of incredible-looking counter food, the best donuts of my life you will be in heaven. They also have a well-crafted menu for something for everyone! Even if you are a little bit fussy like me the hospitable staff will have no problem accommodating your requests. Oh, and if you like chai lattes, make sure to try the iced chai latte, it is one of the best drinks ever!
Opening Hours: Seven days a week. from 7.30am until 4pm.
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, Rarotonga.
Punanga Nui Market
The must-be place any Saturday morning is the Punanga Nui Market. Duck down for the perfect breakfast or lunch meal from one of the many stalls. From fresh smoothies, chicken, crepes, and of course coconuts! Feel free to also grab some souvenirs here with stalls selling everything from flower crowns, sarongs, and wooden carvings.
If you are craving some homemade goodies this is the place to be as the local community sets up with amazing homemade cakes and pastries fresh out of the oven! Spend the morning trying a little bit of everything and relaxing under the beautiful Rarotongan sun.
Opening Hours: Saturdays, 8am until 2pm. It also has a few permanent food stands that are open throughout the week, not just during market hours. A favorite is Kai & Co who serves up delicious burgers and mouth-watering bagels.
Location: Ara Tapu, Avarua, Cook Islands
Deli-Licious Cafe Limited
Another great breakfast spot in Rarotonga is Deli-Licious Cafe. With fresh ingredients featured and an amazing selection of both cabinet and menu food options, it will have your mouth watering. They have a cute little outdoor area as well as a bit of indoor seating. This is a popular place with both locals and tourists.
Make sure to snag yourself one of the tables in front to watch life go by on the happening Muri Beach.
Deli-Licious Cafe is also a dog-friendly establishment.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Friday 7.30am until 3pm, closed Saturdays.
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, on the far end when traveling clockwise.
I discovered Love Cafe as a random one-off stop in research for good coffee and damn I am so happy to have found it! Hidden away from the popular touristy parts of Rarotonga is this coffee shack tucked in on the side of the road. There is a decent seating area set up with a few tables and umbrellas helping keep the hot sun off.
The drinks here are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world. Seriously it could rival the coffee scene in Wellington. I know I am building it up a lot, but we have done the 20-minute drive there from our accommodation on multiple trips.
The ladies who run it are absolutely lovely and there is always a resident chicken roaming around. They have some delicious home-baked food options as well as toasted sandwiches. Just a few easy options to give you enough energy to start the day.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 7.00am until 2pm, closed Sundays.
Location: 8 Ara Tapu, just up past Matavera Pre School
Hidden away in a peaceful garden in the center of Avarua is the Lazy Trout. This little oasis is a must-visit if you are wondering where to eat in Rarotonga. They have a delicious breakfast and lunch menu as well as an excellent seating area.
If you visit here for any meal make it breakfast in Rarotonga. They have some excellent chefs working and everything is cooked to perfection. There are also a few vegetarian options that are more exciting than the generic eggs on toast offered at a lot of other places. My go-to order was a pumpkin hummus on toast with halloumi and a grilled tomato.
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 8.00am until 2pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It seems that the Lazy Trout is currently closed and has been since the pandemic hit. Though does seem like a temporary measure as visiting in June 2021 the signage was still out on the main road.
Location: Corner Puroromea Road and Vakatini Road, Avarua
Lunch In Rarotonga
Mooring Fish Cafe
This iconic Rarotongan eatery is a hot spot for locals and tourists, and for a good reason, their sandwiches! Located next to the fishing club you can be sure the iconic FOB sandwich is made with the freshest fish and on wonderfully soft Turkish bread.
With both covered and uncovered tables, you can relax ocean side no matter the weather. Some days of the week they also host live music so make sure to check out the sign on the road to see what is happening during your visit.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10.30am until 3.30pm and Sunday 12pm until 4pm, closed Saturdays.
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, Rarotonga.
Charlie’s Cafe and Bar
If you ask anyone in Rarotonga where to go for lunch they will no doubt say Charlie’s Cafe. This place is a Rarotonga icon and a must-visit when in the Cook Islands capital.
This seaside eatery features everything you could ever want, from amazing ocean views to sandwiches as big as your head. Make sure to pop in for the relaxing atmosphere and social vibes, it is the perfect place to get into island life.
From dart boards on the walls and happy hour cocktails. As soon as night hits this seems to be the place to be on the island. Though I prefer a more relaxed vibe so visit at lunch for a chill time listening to the waves hitting the shore.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 11am until 10pm, closed Sundays.
Location: Ara Tapu, Takitumu District, Cook Islands, about 5 minutes past central Muri township when traveling clockwise.
If you are looking for an amazing cheap eat in Rarotonga, Palace Takeaways is the place to be. This roadside stall features port views and local chickens, oh and of course their famous palace burger!
With quick service, fresh ingredients, and a damn tasty coleslaw we visited Palace Takeaways numerous times while in Rarotonga. The burgers are extremely affordable and you know this is the place to be when it is always busy with both locals and tourists!
Hint: On hours and days they offer happy hour burgers. So make sure to check them out for one of the cheapest meals in Rarotonga!
Opening Hours: Seven days a week, 8am until 10pm.
Location: Ara Tapu, Avarua District, near the port.
Vili’s Burger Joint
If you are looking for a delicious burger Vili’s Burger Joint is the place to be! With quirky decor and enough jokes on the wall to put a smile on your face, it is a must-visit for lunch or dinner.
If you have any burger in Rarotonga you must have one from here, my partner can highly recommend the smokey bbq bacon which is all he could talk about for the rest of our stay. Also, make sure to get one of the milkshakes, they are extremely flavorsome and the thickest thing you’ll ever drink.
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11.30am-9pm and Weekends 12.30pm- 9pm. Closed on Mondays.
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, opposite the Muri Night Markets. Ara Tapu, opposite Te Manava Luxury Villas. Next to KAPS Matavera on the east coast.
Seriously this place has moved every time I have visited Rarotonga! I try to keep these posts up to date as possible, though with this many changes I am not sure I can promise that on this one!
Located right in the main town of Aravua, the Lucky Rooster is a popular hangout for both locals and travelers. This place is beautifully decorated and kind of looks like it should be in central Melbourne. Nevertheless, they serve up a delicious meal with a funky vibe (you’ll understand when you see the placemats).
The only thing is that during my visits the drinks have always come out after the food and as some who eats out probably more than they should this should be one of the basics they need to get right. Their menu is extensive and the staff are helpful. The food is so delicious I have actually forgotten to take a photo until after I finished eating hence an Instagram pic below!
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 3pm Tuesday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays & Mondays.
Location: Ara Tapu in Avarua. Nextdoor to the Avarua Shopping Center
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Dinner In Rarotonga
Muri Night Market
One of the most popular dinner options in Rarotonga is no doubt the Muri Night Markets. With a variety of stalls with so many options, you could spend hours here trying different dishes!
Join locals and tourists alike and try some beautiful homemade food, some of which is made straight in front of you. From amazing cakes, crepes, fresh seafood, and local delicacies, your taste buds will be in heaven! Eating here is a great way to support the local economy as the money goes back to the friendly people of this island.
Opening Hours: Sunday, Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday starting at 5pm (weather permitting).
Location: Muri Beach Village, between Sails Restaurant sign and Beachcomber Accommodation.
If you are sick of roadside dining then Trader Jacks is the perfect place to come for Lunch or Dinner. With an extensive menu and fresh seafood on offer, it highlights the best of Cook Islands’ produce as well as Western favorites.
Be sure to try the pizzas which are known as the best on the island! A perfect base mixed with delicious toppings makes for the ultimate meal.
Enjoy the beautiful views over the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashing on the reef on the deck. This, mixed with the extremely hospitable staff make Trader Jacks a must-visit when in Rarotonga!
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am until late.
Location: Ara Tapu, Avarua District, Cook Islands
Te Vara Nui Village
Te Vara Nui is a must-visit for Dinner when wondering where to eat in Rarotonga. With a delicious buffet dinner and amazing over-water show it is truly the perfect way to spend an evening.
The assortment of food options includes both western and local options allowing you to try some new Cook Island dishes. Everything is labeled as well, so you will be 100% sure if what you are eating is vegetarian, dairy-free, or gluten-free. This is a big plus if you have a complicated diet like me!
Opening Hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays starting at approximately 7pm (bookings essential).
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, approximately 15 minutes drive from the main town of Avarua.
Want to explore more of the Rarotongan food scene? Why not do a DIY food tour!
Captain Andy’s Bar & Grill
This beautiful eatery is located inside the Rarotongan Resort on the Southern coast. Enjoy eating waterside with some affordable and delicious meals. There will be plenty of fish friends hanging around in the ocean below attracted by the lights.
If you are vegetarian like me I highly recommend the pizzas, though they also offer a burger with a beyond-meat style pattie. There is an extensive drinks list with both alcoholic and non- alholic cocktails which is a real bonus.
Just be aware at Captain Andy’s Bar & Grill they do not offer table service. You will need to order your meal and drinks at the bar and collect your food from the kitchen line when it is ready.
Opening Hours: 7am to 9pm, 7 days a week
Location: The Rarotongan Resort, Aroa Beach
Where To Stay In Rarotonga
There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Rarotonga. From small hostels, apartments on the beach, luxury resorts, and everything in between.
Though just be aware that even 5-star resorts in Rarotonga don’t actually look too great so adjust your expectations accordingly. This is an island with limited resources and seems to be a few years behind New Zealand, which is again, a few years behind the rest of Oceania. As a result, rooms can look quite dated, think floral prints from the ’70s, though that’s just the atheistic on the island.
Beach front location with affordable bungalows from $105.00 per night.BOOK NOW
With standard rooms from $130.00 you can enjoy life on the beach at an affordable price.BOOK NOW
Romantic adults only resort. With rooms from $230.00 per night enjoy luxury in peace.BOOK NOW
Set on a private beach this 4 star resort is the perfect getaway from $190.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Things To Do While In Rarotonga
One great thing about Rarotonga is that is it basically impossible to get bored during your stay! There is such a wide variety of things to do and beautiful sights you will constantly be out exploring.
Also, for a more extensive list be sure to check out my post on the Best Things To Do In Rarotonga.
Across Island Hike: One of the most popular things to do is do the Across Island Hike and visit The Needle. This will take you right into the interior of the mountainous island with some amazing ocean views.
Beach Hop: Now you cannot go to Rarotonga and miss out on exploring the incredible ocean life and this can easily be done on a budget, if not for free. Basically, no matter where you are staying on the island the ocean is just a walk away. Do what I did and bring your own snorkel, or hire your own from a few dollars a day. Honestly, you could spend hours exploring the underwater life and corals (pro tip: the best snorkeling spot is Aroa Marine Reserve behind The Rarotongan beach resort or in front of Fruits of Rarotonga)
Cultural Show: A more tame activity is checking out one of the evening cultural shows. These are a magnificent insight into the Cook Island culture with extremely impressive performances involving dance and fire. A buffet dinner is also included with both western and local favorites.
Swimming With Sea Turtles: No matter what your budget is swimming with sea turtles is one activity I recommend to everyone visiting Rarotonga. This experience will have you swimming alongside these majestic beauties. I did this with Ariki Adventures and cannot recommend this enough. As an alternative, they also offer a lagoon safari which I recently did. This is suitable for all ages and is safe for those who are not the most confident swimmers.
Raro Buggy Tours: I have always wanted to do the buggy tour as there is such hype so I booked it in on my most recent trip. I remember saying at the start to my partner that we must swap halfway so I get some fun. Though when that time came I was enjoying it so much I was happy to stay a passenger!
Quad Biking: If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie then quad biking is perfect for you! Head right into the inland area and among the jungle. Explore off the beaten track and get some of the best views of the famous needle which stands high over Rarotonga.
Aitutaki Day Tour: If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience definitely think about booking the Aitutaki Day Tour. Though it is pricey, 100% worth it. It still has some of the best beaches I have ever seen.
Lagoon cruise: More of a family-friendly activity is the lagoon cruise. There are a couple of companies you can book with, though we went with Koka Lagoon Cruises. It is a perfect way to get into the Cook Island spirit. With plenty of performances, snorkeling, entertainment, and a delicious lunch it is the ideal way to spend half a day.
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Want more Cook Islands inspiration? Check out….
- AITUTAKI DAY TOUR FROM RAROTONGA: DISCOVERING PARADISE WITH AIR RAROTONGA
- HOW TO HIRE A SCOOTER & GET A TOURIST SCOOTER LICENSE IN RAROTONGA
- TOP THINGS TO DO IN RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
- HOW TO TAKE THE BUS IN RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.
Backpackers Wanderlust was a guest at Te Vara Nui in Rarotonga, however, as always, all opinions are my own.