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Following the commencement of the quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Cook Islands, Rarotonga is once again a popular destination for travellers to escape the cold this year.

In our Rarotonga travel guide series, we covered topics such as essential information, top things to do and family-friendly accommodation in Rarotonga. In this post, we’ll share the top family cafés and restaurants in Rarotonga to take your kids this holiday.

This is a list of the cafés and restaurants we tried and tasted first hand during our trip to Rarotonga pre-Covid. Of course, we couldn’t possibly try them all and there may be new restaurants on the island now, so please use this post as a guide only.

Don’t forget to download your free Rarotonga Pocket Guide, the most compact pocket travel guide for families.

Rarotonga Restaurants Cafes Eateries Family Travel Guide Cook Islands Featured

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Series: Rarotonga Cook Islands Family Travel Guide

Rarotonga Essential Information Must Know Before You Go
Top Things To Do with Kids in Rarotonga
Top Resorts & Best Accommodation on Rarotonga for Families
Top Family-Friendly Cafés & Restaurants in Rarotonga

Must-try traditional food in Rarotonga

Before moving on to the best restaurants in Rarotonga, we must introduce you to one of the most popular traditional delicacies on the Cook Islands called Ika Mata. Ika Mata is raw fish marinated in coconut cream, lemon juice with diced capsicum and cucumber. It is delicious and can be widely found in restaurants, cafés, and markets in Rarotonga.

Many cafés are known to make delicious fish sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Being on an island surrounded by the ocean, seafood is the go-to option for many tourists, so try a seafood basket at your chosen restaurant!

Ika Mata Rarotonga Local Dish
Ika Mata

© Photos by Kida

Video guide on top restaurants & cafés in Rarotonga

Map Overview

Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro

Yes, Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro is a bar, but the most family-friendly bar & bistro we’ve ever been to! It’s situated near the airport, perfect for your first or last dining experience in Rarotonga.

The tables and chairs at Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro were set on the beach, and there was a little shack where you could order the most delicious seafood basket, fish burgers and wraps.

© Photos by Kida

The best part of Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro was the vibrant ambience and the pumping music, which put everyone in a party mood. The central stage was also a dance floor, serving drinks and providing entertainment. If you’re travelling with a little one, don’t be taken aback by the party atmosphere. The seating area was open-air, so we didn’t feel intimated by the bar vibe at all.

There was a playground and a swing set in the corner beside the shack for kids. It didn’t take our toddler long at all to make some new friends by the end of the night!

© Photos by Kida

We had dinner at Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro after watching the most beautiful sunset at the Black Rock Chimneys, and it was the perfect night to end our Rarotonga trip.

© Photos by Kida

Markets in Rarotonga

Ok, markets are not exactly counted as restaurants in Rarotonga, but we have to mention the two popular markets here – Punanga Nui Market and Muri Night Market.

Markets are always the best places to find a variety of fresh local food! You can read more on Punanga Nui Market and Muri Night Market here!

Punanga Nui Market family travel with baby kids rarotonga cook islands
Punanga Nui Market

© Photos by Kida

Nautilus Resort Restaurant

One of our favourite family restaurants in Rarotonga was the Nautilus Resort Restaurant. If you’re staying at Nautilus Resort Rarotonga, lucky you! If you’re not staying at Nautilus Resort Rarotonga, you can get a day pass by spending over $38pp at its restaurant.

The day pass comes with full access to the luxurious infinity pool facing the beautiful Taakoka island, so treat your family here at Nautilus Resort for a day. This was definitely one of the most upscale family restaurants in Rarotonga that we had discovered.

© Photos by Kida

Te Vaka Restaurant

Te Vaka is the restaurant of The Rarotongan Beach Resort. I had never been to a restaurant where you could watch tropical fish swim around in crystal clear waters right from the alfresco seating area before Te Vaka Restaurant.

© Photos by Kida

There were indoor seating and outdoor ‘huts’ where you could choose to enjoy the ambience with other guests from the resort or have a little privacy outside. The waiting time was a little longer during our stay but I suppose if you were on island time, then that was the pace everyone was working in. Either way, it was a beautiful place to enjoy a meal by the pristine waters of Rarotonga.

© Photos by Kida

If you get a chance, grab your snorkel gear and explore one of the best snorkelling spots right here in the resort. Walk out to the front of the restaurant and have a swim with the beautiful fish there.

The Rarotongan Beach Resort is one of the most family-friendly and top-rated resorts in Rarotonga, and Te Vaka Restaurant wins the best setting, in our opinion.

© Photos by Kida

Beluga Café

Beluga Café is a unique restaurant in Rarotonga that combines a local souvenir shop and a café. You can browse through the souvenirs while waiting for your food to arrive.

Beluga Café is quite a popular café in Rarotonga and attracts many tourists on a busy day. During our visit here, almost every second table here ordered Beluga’s special Trio Seafood Basket, so we had to try it too! It did not disappoint and was definitely worth the hype!

Beluga Café
Trio Seafood Basket

© Photos by Kida

Our toddler decided it was funny to pour a cup of hot chocolate into her plate. I was so self-conscious and felt bad about making a mess at this cute and neat café, but the staff was very understanding when she came to collect the plates and didn’t seem bothered at all. They were attentive and friendly despite being so busy on the day.

© Photos by Kida

Coconut Crab Café

If you plan to visit Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco Centre, there’s a Coconut Crab Café here. Stay a little longer after you visit the Eco Centre and let your kids play and draw at the toddlers’ corner!

© Photos by Kida

The Mooring Fish Café

The Mooring Fish Café is a funky little beach shack that makes really great food on the island. We were here on a rainy day and didn’t get to really enjoy the café and its location. However, we could totally picture this place packed with people on a tropical sunny day.

© Photos by Kida

Charlie’s Café

Sitting right by one of the most beautiful beaches on the island is Charlie’s Café. This café has an atmospheric outdoor seating area right on the beach. If you’re looking for instagrammable places to take photos, there are some really charming-looking palm trees to pose with.

© Photos by Kida

La Casita Mexican Café

Conveniently located in Muri, if you feel like Mexican, La Casita is the place to go!

La Casita Mexican Restaurant Rarotonga Cook Islands
La Casita Mexican Restaurant

© Photos by Kida

Vili’s Burger Joint

Boasting to serve the best burgers on the island, Vili’s Burger Joint was always busy and seemed to be open when no one else was. This burger joint was creatively converted from a water tank and we were greeted by friendly cats.

Vili’s is a must-stop for any hungry travellers in Muri, making it one of our favourite restaurants in Rarotonga!

© Photos by Kida

Ariki Shack

Ariki Shack is a very cozy place to chill on a sunny day. Grab a quick brunch and a drink, check out all the adventures they can take you on!

I went there to get a coffee and was lured into booking a Turtle Sea Scooter Safari Tour with Ariki. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my travel life!

© Photos by Kida

The Brasserie at The Edgewater Resort

The Brasserie is another popular family-friendly restaurant inside The Edgewater Resort. The restaurant is located right by the pool area, and it’s looking out to the beach. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon and let the kids splash around in the pool while you enjoy lunch at The Brasserie.

© Photos by Kida


Last but not least, don’t forget you can always go grocery shopping from the supermarket in Avarua town centre, especially if your itinerary is in town on the day. Simply walk across to CITC supermarket and make your own delicious sandwiches and have a picnic by the harbour!

We found most of the products here were imported from New Zealand, probably with a little tax on top.

© Photos by Kida

Included in this travel guide

  • Essential information about travelling to Rarotonga
  • Top things to do
  • Family-friendly accommodation & resorts
  • Restaurants & cafés
  • Packing list
  • Getting around
  • Bucket list
  • Blank page for notes

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