Best Restaurants In Rarotonga

All trips to the Cook Islands start and end in Rarotonga so you’ll find yourself on the island for a few meals. We spent 5 nights in Rarotonga and ate as many restaurants in Rarotonga as possible not only for research for this article but we like trying different places. It takes less than an hour to drive around Rarotonga so every restaurant is accessible no matter where you stay on the island. We stayed at Seachange Villas which is right at the halfway mark around the island. Here are the best restaurants in Rarotonga according to us.

Prices Below are in New Zealand Dollars $1 USD = $1.42 NZ when writing this

Where To Eat In Rarotonga

Fresh tuna sandwich & fries at Mooring Fish Cafe the best restaurant in Rarotonga

1. The Mooring Fish Cafe

The best restaurant in Rarotonga hands down is the Mooring Fish Cafe, it’s the only restaurant we ate at twice. If you’re looking for a fresh seafood sandwich it doesn’t get any fresher. You can literally see the fisherman cutting up a fresh catch from your table. Their menu has several sandwiches, salads, ice cream, and fries. The sandwiches are big, definitely great value for the price. We loved the seared tuna cajun sandwich with a side of fries. They also have the best french chips in Rarotonga too, they are the nice thin ones similar to McDonald’s french fries the rest of the island has thick cut chips. Oh for those Americans, french fries are called Chips in the Cook Islands and potato chips are called crisps. Prices at The Mooring Fish Cafe: Sandwiches $13, chips $6, and shakes $6-8.

We would have eaten her more but then this article wouldn’t have been possible, we wanted to visit as many restaurants in Rarotonga as possible.

Fresh fried calamari & cider beer at the Muri Night Market in Rarotonga

2. Muri Night Market

A trip to Rarotonga wouldn’t be complete without eating at the Muri Night Market and mingling with locals. The Muri Night Market is full of local vendors serving up some of the best food in Rarotonga. This is the place to be, we suggest getting there earlier as some vendors sell out early. Every night there is different vendors, we went twice and noticed the vendor with the amazing curried tuna we had the night before wasn’t there, we were really looking forward to it. But it was fine because there was a lady with really good fresh calamari. Most vendors are cash only, there is an ATM right across the street. Prices at the Muri night market vary vendor to vendor most mains are $15-20, smoothie $6, ice cream $3.50, etc. There are drinks available at the market or at the little convenience store on the corner. 

Chicken Sandwich & Chips on a picnic table with the ocean in the background at Charlie's Cafe restaurant in the Cook Islands

3. Charlie’s Cafe

Charlie’s Cafe is often listed as having the best fish sandwich in Rarotonga. Well, we wish we could report back on this but the day we visited they ran out of fish…so we didn’t get to try their famous (and huge) fish sandwich. We opted for this chicken sandwich and fries, which was fine but we had our hearts set on the fish. Adam had the chicken panini and I had the chicken sandwich, we suggest skipping the chicken panini it wasn’t anything special. If they happen to run out of fish when you visit we suggest coming back another day. Prices at Charlie’s Cafe: Sandwich $15, $5 chips, and $20 combo with sandwich/chips/drink.

Kikau Hut seafood sampler at Rarotonga restaurant

4. Kikau Hut

We were looking for a good sit down local restaurant and saw great reviews about Kikau Hut. Adam had their seafood platter for $36 which was a large portion that featured the Cook Islands famous Ika Mata, scallop and rukau gratin, calamari, fried fish of the day, veggies, and a potato. I opted for Hannah’s garlic bread for $5 which was a great appetizer and the chicken curry which was really good for $28.  Their glasses are wine are really small we suggest getting the bottle instead of paying $8 per glass. They often have live music too which is great to enjoy with dinner.

Seared tuna meal at Tamarind House restaurant in Rarotonga

5. Tamarind House

Tamarind House Restaurant is often listed as the best restaurant in Rarotonga we would say it definitely is the fanciest restaurant in Rarotonga that we visited. It’s really popular so make sure to make reservations in advance. It’s a great place to celebrate special occasions, we went here for Hannah’s birthday dinner. Adam had their seared tuna for $36.50 which was good but we did have better Tuna in Aitutaki, Hannah had the pesto pasta for $22 which was really good, and we shared a bottle of Pinot Noir for $39. Their wine list and prices were really good for the Cook Islands. We went for dinner but would suggest going for lunch, they have a gorgeous lawn and view it would be great to enjoy the setting during the light.

Villas Burger restaurant in Rarotonga menu

6. Villas Burger Joint

Villas Burgers is often referred to as the best burgers in the Cook Islands. It’s right across the street from the Muri Night Market and their prices are super affordable if you’re traveling the Cook Islands on a budget head here. Their basic burger is $5, chips $4.50, but any additional sides/toppings like ketchup or onions will cost you $2 each. It’s a great option if you’re looking at picking up dinner and bringing it back to your room.

Fresh Ika Mata at Trader Jack's restaurant in Rarotonga

7. Trader Jacks 

Trader Jacks is located right in town in the Avarua Harbour, you can’t miss it. Trader Jacks has been around since 1986 and is an institution in the Cook Islands. The restaurant serves up one of the best pizzas in Rarotonga, fresh seafood, sushi, sandwiches, poke bowls, and much more. If you aren’t hungry still head over the bar is always busy it’s open until 3 am on Friday’s. It’s one of the best places for nightlife in Rarotonga.

local plate of food in Rarotonga Cook Islands

8. Island Progressive Dinner

One of the most unique meals in Rarotonga is on the Island Progressive Dinner tour which visits three different locals houses. Book online here for $71 USD. Each of the houses serves up a different course. It’s a really good way to get inside the homes of locals and hear their story and life on the island. Really good dinner with tons of options. 

Fish burger, fries, and coffee at Saltwater Cafe

9. Saltwater Cafe

Saltwater Cafe is located at the halfway point around the island and it was conveniently right across from Seachange villas where we were staying. They as one of the best restaurants in Rarotonga for breakfast and coffee. Make sure to check their special board for things like Pina Colada french toast. We dined during lunch and had their fish burger for $13 and $3.50 long black coffee and $5 iced latte.

Pepporini Pizza in the box from Kai Pizza Place in Rarotonga

10. Kai Pizza Place

Our last meal in Rarotonga was at Kai Pizza, we need something to bring to the airport before boarding our long flight back to the LA. It’s located right in town and only a few minutes drive from the Rarotonga airport. When looking for the best restaurants in Rarotonga we kept hearing about Kai Pizza. Kai Pizza Place serves pizza $8-11 (as the name suggests), garlic bread $5, and during lunch salads and wraps for $11 which are huge.

  • Address: Avarua District, Cook Islands
  • Open Tuesday – Friday 11 am -2 pm for lunch, and Monday – Saturday for dinner 4 pm – 9 pm, closed Sunday
  • Cash Only

Best Ice Cream In Rarotonga

If you’re like me and always in the mood for ice cream head to Wigmore’s Supermarket, they serve New Zeland Tip Top ice cream and have about 10+ flavors on hand. We stopped in for an ice cream cone every day for only $2 for a single scoop cone, the mint chip was my favorite flavor.


What did you think was the best restaurant in Rarotonga? We didn’t have a bad meal on the island, we can’t wait to return. 

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6 thoughts on “Best Restaurants In Rarotonga

  1. Cafe Ariki is the locals secret eating place. My husband had the pork ribs in special sauce and it was absolutely outstanding. I had the fresh fish and salad – so buttery delicious!

  2. Oh man, I have absolutely 0 plans to go to the Cook Islands (for now!) but all this food looks so delicious! I wish this were an easier place to get to from the US west coast 😀

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