The Cook Islands, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is an idyllic paradise known for its stunning natural beauty, turquoise lagoons, and sandy beaches. But it’s not just the scenery that makes the Cook Islands a must-visit destination for foodies. The country boasts a vibrant culinary scene with a unique blend of Polynesian, European, and Asian flavors. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best foodie destinations in the Cook Islands.
Muri Night Market
Located in the town of Muri, the Muri Night Market is one of the must-visit foodie destinations in Cook Islands. Open every night from 5 pm to 9 pm, the market is a bustling hub of local vendors selling a variety of food, drinks, and crafts. You can find everything from fresh seafood to grilled meats, exotic fruits, and desserts.
One of the most popular dishes at the market is the ika mata, a traditional Cook Islands raw fish salad made with coconut cream, lime juice, and vegetables. Other must-try dishes include the umu, a Polynesian-style barbecue, and the rukau, a dish made with taro leaves and coconut cream.
If you’re a beer lover, you won’t want to miss the Rarotonga Brewery. Located in the town of Nikao, the brewery produces a range of craft beers using locally-sourced ingredients. The brewery’s flagship beer, the Cooks Lager, is a refreshing and easy-drinking beer that pairs perfectly with the tropical climate.
The brewery also offers tours and tastings, where you can sample some of their other brews, including the Kiva, a dark beer brewed with coffee beans, and the Te Rua Manga, a pale ale made with local citrus fruits.
Located in the capital city of Avarua, Trader Jack’s is a popular bar and one of the best foodie destinations in Cook Islands known for its fresh seafood and stunning views of the harbor. The restaurant’s menu features a range of dishes, including grilled fish, seafood platters, and steak.
But what really sets Trader Jack’s apart is its lively atmosphere and friendly staff. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a fun night out with friends, Trader Jack’s is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious meal and soak up the local culture.
Te Vara Nui Village
For a truly immersive culinary experience, head to Te Vara Nui Village. This cultural center and restaurant offers visitors a chance to learn about traditional Cook Islands culture while enjoying a delicious meal.
This foodie destination’s menu features a range of Polynesian-inspired dishes, including taro fritters, coconut crusted chicken, and poisson cru, a raw fish salad similar to ika mata. But the real highlight of the experience is the cultural show, where you can watch traditional Cook Islands dances and music performances while enjoying your meal.
The Mooring Fish Cafe
If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot with a view, look no further than The Mooring Fish Cafe. Located in the town of Arorangi, the cafe sits right on the beach and offers stunning views of the lagoon.
The cafe’s menu focuses on fresh seafood, including fish and chips, fish burgers, and grilled fish. But there are also plenty of non-seafood options, like burgers, salads, and sandwiches. And if you’re in the mood for a drink, the cafe also offers a range of cocktails, beers, and wines.
Flame Tree Restaurant
For a fine dining experience, head to the Flame Tree Restaurant at the Pacific Resort in Aitutaki. This is one of the best foodie destinations in Cook Islands’ with menus that focuses on Pacific Rim cuisine, with a range of dishes that incorporate local ingredients like coconut, taro, and fresh seafood.
Some of the standout dishes at Flame Tree include the seared yellowfin tuna with coconut rice and pineapple salsa, the smoked duck breast with vanilla pumpkin puree, and the poached local lobster tail with kumara mash and garlic butter. And for dessert, don’t miss the coconut panna cotta with mango and passionfruit coulis.
The Islander Hotel
Located in the town of Avarua, The Islander Hotel is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. The hotel’s restaurant serves up a range of dishes, from pizzas and burgers to fresh seafood and steak.
But what really sets The Islander apart is its live music performances. On Friday nights, the hotel hosts a traditional island night with live music and dancing, as well as a buffet of local dishes like umu-cooked pork, taro, and breadfruit.
Tamarind House Restaurant
For a romantic dinner with a view, head to the Tamarind House Restaurant in the town of Vaimaanga. The restaurant is housed in a historic colonial-style mansion and offers stunning views of the lagoon.
The menu features a range of dishes, from fresh fish and lobster to grilled meats and vegetarian options. Some of the standout dishes include the pan-seared scallops with sweet corn puree and bacon, the grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce, and the eggplant and zucchini lasagna.
Located in the town of Muri, the Beluga Cafe is a popular spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The cafe’s menu features a range of dishes inspired by both local and international cuisine, including breakfast burritos, fish tacos, and coconut curry.
But what really sets Beluga apart is its commitment to sustainability. The cafe uses locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, and all of its takeaway containers and utensils are made from biodegradable materials.
The Shipwreck Hut
Located on the beach in the town of Titikaveka, The Shipwreck Hut is a laid-back bar and one of the best foodie destinations in Cook Islands with a fun, beachy vibe. The menu features a range of dishes, including fish and chips, burgers, and salads.
But what really sets The Shipwreck Hut apart is its creative cocktails. The bar offers a range of tropical drinks, including the signature Shipwrecked, made with rum, pineapple, and coconut cream. And if you’re in the mood for something non-alcoholic, try the refreshing virgin mojito.
In conclusion, the Cook Islands may be a small island nation, but it packs a big punch when it comes to its culinary scene. From street food to fine dining, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to try. Whether you’re a seafood lover or a vegetarian, a beer drinker or a cocktail aficionado, there’s something for everyone in the Cook Islands. So pack your bags, book your flight, and get ready for a culinary adventure in paradise.
Our Top FAQ's
The best time to visit the Cook Islands for foodies is between May and October, when the weather is dry and sunny. During this time, you can also attend the annual food and wine festival, which takes place in June and features local chefs, winemakers, and musicians.
Yes, it is generally safe to eat street food in the Cook Islands, as long as you choose vendors that have a good reputation and follow basic food safety practices. Some of the most popular street foods in the Cook Islands include fish sandwiches, coconut bread, and grilled meats.
Yes, many restaurants in the Cook Islands offer vegetarian and vegan options on their menus, such as salads, stir-fries, and vegetable curries. However, it’s a good idea to check with the restaurant in advance to make sure they can accommodate your dietary needs.
The cost of dining out in the Cook Islands can vary depending on the restaurant and the type of food you order. Some restaurants, particularly those that cater to tourists, can be quite expensive. However, there are also plenty of affordable options, such as food trucks, local markets, and casual eateries. Overall, the Cook Islands can be a budget-friendly destination for foodies who are willing to seek out the best deals.