8 best restaurants in the Cook Islands
Our favourite places to eat. Enjoy awesome food and stunning decor.
Rapae Bay Restaurant
Dining on the lagoon
The Restaurant of Aitutaki’s Pacific Resort is a destination dining venue, the place to eat while watching a sunset over the turquoise lagoon. The cuisine is stylish and wholly local: share a seafood platter, or enjoy skipjack tuna that’s barely kissed the grill in a miso broth with noodles, or seared wahoo with tropical fruit chutney, rukau and coconut rice.
Aitutaki Tel: 00 682 28140
Plantation Home Dinner
Enjoy a home cooked island dinner
Louis and Minar open their homes once or twice a month so that visitors can tour the extensive gardens and plantation, before sitting down together at a communal table in their home for an island feast. The food is prepared by Minar, almost entirely from their own organic produce. Highlights inclide skipjack tuna cerviche with lime, coriander and chilli; wahoo steamed in banana leaf; and habanero chillies stuffed with mahi-mahi.
On the eastern side of the island between Avarua and Muri, Rarotonga
Tel: 00 682 22821
Tel: 00 682 22796
Hidden Spirit Café
Tropical garden dining
Dine in the magical surrounds of the sprawling Maire Nui Tropical Gardens, a calm, relaxing, almost spiritual spot. Organic vegetables, fruits and herbs are picked fresh from the garden to go into a range of light salads at lunch; in the evenings there is an Asian fusion grill to enjoy. To finish, don’t miss Terito Macquarie’s famous cheesecake.
Main Road, Titikaveka, Rarotonga
The best in Polynesian-inspired food
The restaurant of this brand-new eco-resort is already being hailed as one of the best on Rarotonga. Enjoy cocktails overlooking Muri’s stunning lagoon, then dine on a Polynesian-inspired menu based on the freshest local produce, which is organic wherever possible. Dishes include gluten-free rukau and feta agnolotti; shredded duck salad with tropical fruits and coconut; and fragrant steamed parrot fish. The extensive wine list is particulary strong in small New Zealand estates.
Muri Beach, Rarotonga
Tel: 00 682 25125
Samade on the Beach
Enjoy a beachfront sunset cocktail
Dine barefoot with your toes almost in Aitutaki’s incredible blue lagoon in this deceptively casual beachfront restaurant. Chef and owner Thomas Koteka, one of the pioneers of Cook Islands tourism, offers a changing daily menu with dishes such as a grilled catch of the day, seafood curry, or braised belly pork. The bar is great for sunset cocktails.
Tel: 00 682 31526
The Mooring Fish Café
The freshest fish on the island
Located in an old shipping container just up from the beach near Muri, this is the place to come for the freshest fish sandwiches and salads. Much of the fish is caught by the owner Jill Stanton’s husband, Captain Moko. The crumbed mahi-mahi with lime mayonnaise is sensational. Wash down with fresh nu - coconut water.
Avana Fishing Club near Muri, Rarotonga
Tel: 00 682 25553
Casual local dining at it’s best
This popular casual diner is unpretentious and no-frills. It has a wonderful wharfside position though this means it has been destroyed by cyclones on three occasions. Eat out on the deck watching whales in season, or drop in for laid-back sunset cocktails and simple meals such as the delicious ika mata (salad of raw fish) or macadamia-crusted wahoo.
Tel: 00 682 26464
Home cooked food as good as the greats
The dirt-floor eating house is widely considered one of the best restaurants on Aitutaki. Though her restaurant is completely casual and laid back, Tupuna knows how to cook as well as the greats. Start off with a bowl of seafood chowder, then move onto Tupuna’s spectacular mud crab (worth ordering in advance) or an alternative favourite signature dish, seared tuna baked in a banana leaf.
Tel: 00 682 31678