Like most places surrounded by oceans, Rarotonga is a mecca for fresh seafood and tropical dishes. Everything we ate was made from scratch on the island and aside from the local flavors you could also taste the love that was put into every dish. We didn’t do much research during meal times, we would just drive the loop around the island and stop for food when we got hungry. Everything we ate was delicious and definitely recommended.
The Pacific Fish and Chip Shop
The Pacific Fish and Chip Shop is a small Blue and Yellow Shack just off the jungle side of the road. They specialize in Fish and Chips but also offer a full menu of other options as well. The night we were there the fish was albacore but it changes depending on what is caught that day. We all ordered the fish and chips here and all left satisfied. The portion of fish was very large and after receiving it, Jess and I realized we could’ve shared an order. Lots of locals came and ate while we were here as well and we always take that as a sign that food is good and price is fair. Each of us paid $8.50 NZD for our fish and chips.
Waterline Restaurant and Beach Bar
Waterline became one of our favorite places on the Island for sunset happy hour. On the evening we decided to go to the Island Nights we decided to stay at Waterline for dinner before heading down the street to the Island Night Show. Aside from having delicious happy hour cocktails, we happy to enjoy a variety of desserts and seafood dishes that Waterline had to offer. The restaurant is on a covered deck with open views to the ocean. There’s nothing better than eating fresh seafood and hearing waves crashing in the background. Our favorite dessert was the Chocolate Brownie Sundae, the staff was kind enough to make us one of these during Happy Hour our first night.
The Mooring Fish Cafe
The Mooring Fish Cafe is on the ocean side as you drive through Muri Beach look for signs for Avana Fishing Club as they share a parking lot. They have a smaller menu with a couple different types of dishes but we both opted for sandwiches with fries. I went with the fish and Jess Tried the Chicken. There were picnic tables scattered across the lawn and a lovely view of Muri Lagoon. The food and views were both fantastic and much appreciated after some island exploring.
Located in the Avarua District of Rarotonga is Salsa Cafe. They have a very diverse menu but when we stopped by it was for a quick breakfast. I ordered the “Gone Fishing” which was Smoked Marlin Potato Hash with Poached Eggs. It was delicious! Very flavorful and extremely fresh tasting. We didn’t get to try anything else off the menu but if the breakfast was any indication, I can only imagine the rest of the food is fantastic as well.
Edit: In doing research for this post I found that Salsa Cafe is now known as The Lucky Rooster Eatery, I’m not sure if this is the same restaurant or menu but may be worth checking out just in case it is. The Lucky Rooster Eatery.
STJ Bakery is a happy surprise we found on the Jungle Side of the main road near Arorangi. The had a variety of desserts, breads, pre-made sandwiches and coffee drinks. Our favorite was the cheese bread and we would stop most days to pick some up fresh for snack. It tasted fantastic with jam spread on it. The dessert treat we chose to try was the Oreo Cheesecake. It wasn’t as sweet as cheesecake in USA but it was still very nice.
Tamarind House is a restaurant in an old “Heritage” Colonial House on the Island. This was the fanciest restaurant we ate at but it was our last meal before we boarded the plane for the long flight back to Los Angeles so we felt we deserved it. The restaurant was really nice inside, they had all the doors surrounding the restaurant open to the outside to let fresh air in and so you could hear waves crashing. Located on the beach side in the Avarua District, it’s recommended to make reservations ahead of time if you’re dining here. We started with cocktails and followed with Poached Fish of the Day for Jess and Fish and Chips for myself. We finished the meal with peanut butter cream pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Everything tasted fantastic and the wait staff was fantastic.
Homemade Pizza Night
One night on the island we decided to stay in and make pizzas at our AirBNB. My brother loves to makes pizza and was excited at the idea of making a Cook Islands Inspired pie. The toppings were half vegetarian half meat and they included red sauce, mozzarella cheese, red peppers, green peppers, pineapple, sausage and ham. He also made a nutella and banana dessert pizza. All were delicious and we ended up eating every bite between the 3 of us for dinner and breakfast. This isn’t something you can find on the island but to encourage you to shop local and cook in if you’re looking for a money save and have access to a kitchen.
CITC Supermarket is in the Avarua District and a great place to pick up groceries or supplies you made need for your time in Rarotonga. Stock up on snacks, drinks, ready to eat meals etc. We came here twice on our trip just to restock snacks and waters. Great store that really has everything.
If you end up in the Cook Islands, let us know in the comments below if you tried any of the restaurants we recommend or what new restaurants you got a chance to try!