was pleasantly surprised by
the food and restaurant choices available on Rarotonga.
had heard a number of tales about eating out - how
expensive it was, the limited choice of dishes -
but while we were there for 10 days we didn't have
a problem eating well.
was five years ago and now, having lived in the
Cook Islands since mid-2016, I have to say you can
get almost any food style you want.
the prices are pretty much what you would pay in
New Zealand. So they are not cheap but, in general,
they are good meals.
to remember when eating on Rarotonga is that the
excellent tuna and swordfish will be freshly caught,
the steak generally imported from New Zealand and
the seafood (such as prawns, shellfish) is mostly
brought in from Asia.
basically stick to what is fresh and if you get
the chance to try Ika Mata - which is a raw fish
salad done in lime juice and coconut cream - do
so as it is sensational!
best way to inform people about eateries on Rarotonga
is to say where we have eaten and where we would
recommend visitors try a meal.
Jacks in Avarua is a good place to start. There
is a restaurant that serves up a really good variety
of quality meals at good prices and a bar where
you can get some damn fine pizzas. It is right on
the water and the hours are good.
Rarotonga it is important to check whether restaurants
are open because they have a funny habit of being
closed on Saturdays - and definitely Sundays.
Jacks is closed on Sunday while its nearby sister
restaurant, Bamboo Jacks, is closed on Saturday.
you would suppose Bamboo Jacks is more Asian food
oriented - excuse the pun. We've have eaten there
a lot and while there have been a couple of disappointing
dishes, overall the quality is good and if you ask
for extra heat the chilis you get will make your
the Steamboat looks excellent - that is a contraption
that basically let's you cook the seafood yourself.
close to Trader Jacks is the 24-hour takeaway chicken
place Raro Fried Chicken. Don't laugh, having been
caught out a number of times with early Saturday
closing hours this is the only place to get a meal
in downtown Avarua at times.
we need to send out a warning. When on Rarotonga
make sure you have eaten by 1pm on a Saturday otherwise
be prepared to go hungry as the place just closes
town near the port of Avatiu is the takeway
place known as The Palace. The fish and chips are
excellent and people rave about the burgers. This
is a locals favourite and that always says a lot
about a place.
The Palace is Sea Salt and all I will say about
it is the thickshakes are good and the noodles are
awful. It took us some hours to remove the taste
from our mouths. This has changed hands in mid 2017 and we cannot comment on the new offerings.
you go to the Punanga
Nui market in Avarua on a Saturday morning make
a beeline for the crepe stand.
girls there make terrific crepes and the custard
and banana offering is magic. People could get very fat
visiting the place too often.
you, my favourite is the smoked marlin mornay
Also at the market is the Waffle Shack - perfect spot to meet for brekkie and a good coffee.
Among the little eateries nestled at the back of the market is Michelle's. The sashimi here is among the best on the island. Fab food, excellent value.
Bite Time next door is also worth considering.
Salsa, Avarua, offers good breakfasts and lunches,
although the seafood chowder is not a winner.
out of town on the main road near the airport are
two good eateries. Le Rendez-Vous is a very good
French cafe that offers terrific brunches (well
that's when we go) and fantastic meals. The dinners are not cheap but they are lovely. Try the fondue meat dish and there are special ribs nights.
Across the road from Le Rendez-Vous is the Islander Hotel.
The Islander offers excellent value for money and
seems to always have a happy hour on with cheap
beer and wine. The restaurant meals are very good
and the bar pizzas more than acceptable, although
not as good as the ones from Trader Jacks.
whale season July through October the Islander offers
superb views of the humpback highway over the other
side of the reef.
Kikau Hut in Arorangi was under new ownership when
we visited and was a bit of an unknown quality when
we had dinner there.
was a good experience. The round restaurant is nicely
set out and the attention is immediate, but not
in your face. The swordfish was fresh and superbly
cooked, and the stack of filled profiteroles were
chosen by many guests as the perfect way to finish
a meal. Two mains, a dessert and bottle of bubbles.
our 32-kilometre drive around the island is
Alberto's. The eatery is an unpretentious building
- with a fun booking system of an outside blackboard
- but the meals are great.
swordfish dish was excellent, but our recommendation
is the steak deal.
$35 you can get a three course meal - garlic bread,
main, dessert - that includes a truly fabulous NZ
steak that you couldn't buy in NZ for the price.
if you are lucky, your dessert of the night will
be the pavlova. I say that because while I'm not
a sweets sort of guy, but this thing went down faster
than the Titanic!
you are staying at the Edgewater
Resort there are several places near there -
on the north-west side of Rarotonga - that are worth
is a bar/restaurant within easy walk of the Edgewater
that has an interesting decor of just about every
part of the world their guests have come from. It
has an acceptable seafood platter deal for two people.
the corner of the main road and the Edgewater is
the Spaghetti House where you can get - yes, you
guessed it - Italian food. The meals are fine and
certainly offer a change from tuna.
we should mention eating at the Edgewater itself,
which has both a la carte service and buffet dinners.
buffet has a good assortment of dishes with some
yummy roasts, while the a la carte menu will suit
Restaurant in Arorangi is a highly recommended restaurant
- actually one of the best on the island - to be found down a long drive and overlooking the
The atmosphere is excellent, small tables give an
intimate feel, and the meals are tasty and stylish.
staff are friendly and efficient and the wine list
lamb shank off the bone on a bed of sweet potato
was perfect and the only thing that made it better
was the cheesecake that followed.
courses for two, a couple of single malts and a
bottle of wine. $120.
the Beach at Manuia Resort is also one of Rarotonga's best restaurants. It not only has superb food,
but an amazing view out over the lagoon and reef.
creativity this place is a must-visit and if you
get the chance to try the Veggie Degustation do
so. Even meat eaters will enjoy the amazing dishes
offered up that do not even try to replace meat,
but give your tastebuds a remarkable twist.
In fact any degustation meal that chef Phillip Nordt assembles is worth the journey to OTB. He is a magician.
We have also just had a meal at Flambe at the Crown Resort and it was right up there with the best. Best dishes include an entree of oysters and sashimi (for two), complete with its own little igloo icesculpture, and the ostrich in bourbon.
half-way around Rarotonga is The Saltwater Cafe
at Turoa Beach on south of the island. It is a good
place to stop in at for a bite with an interesting
mix of Asian, Kiwi Coffee Shop, Hamburgers, Mexican
and Thai meals.
Pit Stop in Tikitkaveka surprised us. Actually it
This is a little food caravan down on the main road
just out of Titikaveka and it is very east to spot,
but also bypass.
do the latter.
stopped there on a Saturday because our original
lunch destination was closed.
didnít feel like a nearby pizza and so thought letís
give Pit Stop a go. And what a find.
fish and chip serving was large and the food beautiful,
while the teriyaki beef salad was big-city quality.
we eat there again? Without even blinking. Lunch
for two and cold drinks $35.
another popular tourist spot - Muri Beach, we ate
at Sails restaurant and the Kai Kai Cafe.
was nice, but a little more pricey than most places,
although the Ika Mata was excellent.
There are regular nights markets at Muri where you can choose from a huge range of foods. These are very popular with visitors.
back in Avarua is The Tamarind House. It is regarded
by many as the best restaurant on the island - the
setting is superb - but it will need to be at the
top of its game to keep the others from its heels.
Now we shouldn't forget to let you know that if
you do tours - such as the Raro
Safari Tours, Captain
Tama's Lagoon Cruise, or the Vaka
Lagoon Cruise on Aitutaki - you will get lunch.
And they are good lunches too.
4x4 team puts on a fabulous spread - the tuna steaks
were amazing - and Captain Tama's wahoo steaks were