Find out where to eat in Rarotonga for delicious food and delightful drinks. Learn about the 12 best restaurants that you need to try in Rarotonga for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Whether you’re a food enthusiast in search of delectable local flavors or a traveler looking for the best dining experiences on Rarotonga, this article is your passport to a foodie adventure like no other.
Exploring a new destination can be thrilling, but finding the right places to dine can sometimes be a daunting task. You definitely don’t want to miss out on authentic and mouthwatering dishes. Well, don’t fret! I’ve got you covered.
As an avid foodie and seasoned traveler, I’ve had the privilege of savoring the flavors of Rarotonga’s vibrant food scene over my 4 visits to the island. My expertise in this paradise allows for a curated selection of eateries that promise not only delicious meals but also a glimpse into the heart of Polynesian cuisine.
Whether you’re a solo diner seeking local gems, a family looking for kid-friendly options, or a couple seeking romantic beachfront dining, this article covers a range of dining options.
So let’s get into where to eat in Rarotonga with all the amazing best restaurants and cafes I have tried. Whether you are after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, strap in as I tell you the best options.
Where To Eat In Rarotonga: Best Rarotonga Restaurants & Cafes All Tested And Tried
Breakfast In Rarotonga
If your accommodation doesn’t include breakfast, no worries because there are some delicious spots for a bit of breaky goodness in Rarotonga.
Whether you are a sweet or savory person you won’t need to look far to find the ideal treat.
LBV – Le Bon Vivant
LBV or Le Bon Vivant is an amazingly delicious eatery and is my number one recommendation for the best places 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.
With an amazing range of incredible-looking counter food and 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: Sunday to Friday. from 7.30 am until 2.30 pm.
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 to sarongs, and wooden carvings.
If you are craving some homemade goodies this is the place to be as the local community sets up 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, 8 am until 2 pm. 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
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 7.00 am until 2 pm, 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: Thursday to Sunday 8.00 am until 2 pm, closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Location: Corner Puroromea Road and Vakatini Road, Avarua
Lunch In Rarotonga
Thanfully if you’re wondering where to eat in Rarotonga for lunch you don’t need to worry too much. The island has some excellent spots worth visiting.
Whether you want some fresh fish, beachfront views, or craving the sloppiest of burgers.
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.
This spot is certainly a Rarotongan icon and definitely one of those ‘must visit’ spots. It is very close to Muri Beach, which is the most popular spot for travelers to stay and has one of the best beaches in Rarotonga.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10.30 am until 3.30 pm and Sunday 12 pm until 4 pm, 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 11 am until 10 pm, closed Sundays.
Location: Ara Tapu, Takitumu District, Cook Islands, about 5 minutes past central Muri township when traveling clockwise.
If you are looking for amazing cheap eats 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 certain 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, 8 am until 10 pm.
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 burgers 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. Basically he’s the burger connoisseur and rates this place highly.
Also, make sure to get one of the milkshakes, they are extremely flavorsome and the thickest thing you’ll ever drink.
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11.30 am-9 pm and Weekends 12.30 pm- 9 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Location: 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 is one of the basics they need to get right.
Their menu is extensive and the staff is 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: 8.30 am to 3 pm Tuesday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays & Mondays.
Location: Ara Tapu in Avarua. Next door to the Avarua Shopping Center
Dinner In Rarotonga
Last up, we have the absolute best restaurants in Rarotonga for dinner. You can find such an assortment of options here for all budgets. Whether you are craving Thai, pizza, local dishes, and more!
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 5 pm (weather permitting).
Location: Muri Beach Village, between the 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 below the deck. This, mixed with the extremely hospitable staff make Trader Jacks a must-visit when in Rarotonga!
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 am 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 an 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!
The only downside is that it definitely is on the pricey side with the dinner and show costing $139.00. However, it is a memorable experience which will no doubt be one of the highlights of your visit.
Opening Hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays starting at approximately 7 pm (bookings essential).
Location: Ara Tapu, Muri Beach, approximately 15 15-minute 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-alcoholic 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.
I stayed at the Rarotongan on one of my stays and ate there numerous times. The food was always delicious and there was a great social atmosphere.
Opening Hours: 7 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week
Location: The Rarotongan Resort, Aroa Beach
Rarotonga Travel Tips
Now you know exactly where to eat in Rarotonga let me tell you about some over travel tips and helpful information for your stay in this paradise spot!
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.
Nevertheless, I have always found rooms to be clean and service for the staff absolutely amazing. The one exception may have been the hostel I stayed in while backpacking Rarotonga. The cockroaches on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night were not a fun sight.
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
Rarotonga offers an abundance of activities and stunning sights to ensure you stay busy throughout your visit. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or prefer a more relaxed experience, there’s something for everyone.
For a comprehensive list, don’t forget to check out my post on the “Best Things To Do In Rarotonga.”
Across Island Hike: One of the island’s most renowned activities is the Across Island Hike, which takes you deep into the heart of the mountainous terrain, offering breathtaking ocean views.
Beach Exploration: Exploring Rarotonga’s mesmerizing ocean life is a must, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. No matter where you’re situated on the island, the ocean is just a stroll away. Consider bringing your own snorkeling gear or renting some for a nominal fee. You’ll lose track of time while discovering the underwater wonders and coral formations. (Pro tip: Aroa Marine Reserve behind The Rarotongan beach resort or in front of Fruits of Rarotonga offers superb snorkeling.)
Cultural Shows: If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, attending an evening cultural show is a fantastic choice. These shows provide fascinating insights into Cook Island culture, featuring remarkable dance and fire performances. Plus, you’ll savor a buffet dinner with both local and Western cuisine.
Swimming With Sea Turtles: Regardless of your budget, I highly recommend swimming with sea turtles. This unforgettable experience lets you glide alongside these majestic creatures. I had an incredible time with Ariki Adventures, and I can’t recommend it enough. Alternatively, they offer a lagoon safari suitable for all ages, even for less confident swimmers.
Raro Buggy Tours: If you’ve ever wanted to embark on a buggy tour, now’s your chance! These tours are incredibly popular for a reason. I initially planned to share the driving, but I ended up enjoying it so much that I happily stayed in the passenger seat throughout.
Quad Biking: For the thrill-seekers, quad biking is an exhilarating choice. Venture deep into the jungle and explore off the beaten path while enjoying some of the most stunning views of the iconic needle towering above Rarotonga.
Aitutaki Day Tour: If you’re up for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider booking the Aitutaki Day Tour, despite its higher price tag. It offers access to some of the most pristine beaches you’ll ever encounter.
Lagoon Cruise: If you’re traveling with family or prefer a more relaxed activity, a lagoon cruise is a great option. Several companies offer this experience, but we chose Koka Lagoon Cruises. It’s an excellent way to immerse yourself in the Cook Island atmosphere, featuring entertaining performances, snorkeling, and a delectable lunch – the perfect way to spend half a day.
FAQs About Rarotonga Restaurants
What is the most popular food in Rarotonga?
A popular dish in Rarotonga is “Ika Mata,” raw fish marinated in coconut cream and lime juice. “Rukau,” taro leaves cooked in coconut cream, is also common. Coconut is a key ingredient, and fresh fruit juices and coconut water are popular beverages to enjoy in the tropical climate.
How much is a beer in Rarotonga?
The cost of a beer in Rarotonga, typically ranges from approximately 5 to 10 New Zealand Dollars (NZD) at bars, restaurants, or resorts. Prices may vary depending on the type and brand of beer and the location where you purchase it.
Should you tip in Rarotonga?
Tipping in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, is not a common practice, and it’s not expected as it is in some other countries. The service industry in Rarotonga usually includes a service charge or gratuity in the bill, so you don’t need to leave an additional tip. However, if you receive exceptional service and want to show appreciation, a small tip would be appreciated, but it’s not obligatory.
Wrap Up: Where To Eat In Rarotonga
Rarotonga offers a delightful culinary journey that blends traditional island flavors with international influences.
Whether you’re savoring fresh seafood at a beachside shack, indulging in the best Rarotonga food at a cultural show, or dining in one of the island’s charming restaurants, the food scene is a true adventure.
With its diverse array of dining options, from casual to fine dining, Rarotonga caters to every palate. So, while exploring this tropical paradise, be sure to savor the rich and delicious tapestry of flavors that make Rarotonga a true food lover’s paradise.
Any Questions? Let Me Know In The Comments!
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Want more Cook Islands inspiration? Check out….
- BEST THINGS TO DO IN RAROTONGA
- BACKPACKING RAROTONGA ON A BUDGET
- WHERE TO EAT IN RAROTONGA: BEST RESTAURANTS
- BEST BEACHES IN RAROTONGA
- HIRE A SCOOTER & GET A TOURIST SCOOTER LICENSE IN RAROTONGA
- HOW TO TAKE THE BUS IN RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
- RENT A CAR IN RAROTONGA TIPS
- KOKA LAGOON CRUISE IN RAROTONGA
- AITUTAKI DAY TOUR FROM RAROTONGA
- RARO BUGGY TOURS: IS IT WORTH IT
- TE VARA NUI CULTURAL SHOW
- QUAD BIKING IN RAROTONGA
- SWIM WITH TURTLES IN RAROTONGA EXPERIENCE
- VISITING THE PUNGA NUI SATURDAY MARKET
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.