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A Vegan Eating Guide to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: The Best Restaurants & Cafés

A Vegan Eating Guide to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: The Best Restaurants & Cafés

Here’s everything you need to know about finding vegan and vegetarian food in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
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Are you a vegan or vegetarian visiting the Cook Islands?

Rarotonga is the main island of the Cook Island and where many visitors spend most of their time in the Cook Islands.

While Rarotonga is better known for its balmy tropical climate and amazing azure waters than the healthy food options, it’s entirely possible to live happily as a vegan here.

We stayed in Rarotonga for a month and were surprised to find lots of great plant-based dining options as well as some well-stocked supermarkets.

Plant milk is available at pretty much every café and supermarket, for example.

Here’s our guide to vegan and vegetarian food in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Find all of the restaurants & cafés mentioned in the guide on a map at the bottom of the article.

Kai & Co

Kai & Co is located by the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua and offers up some of the best vegan eats on the island.

If you like smoothie bowls, you have to try the Organic Açaí Bowl and the Bonita Bowl (without protein powder) with cacao as well. They’re really good!

We tried their Vegan Burger, which they also make in a wrap version. Lots of ‘slaw and a delicious falafel-sweet potato patty.

If you visit on Saturday (market day) you might have to factor in some extra waiting time.

Smoothie bowls Kai & Co in Rarotonga
We had to try the smoothie bowls at Kai & Co. more than once.
Organic Açaí Bowl and a Bonita Bowl (without protein powder)
Organic Açaí Bowl and a Bonita Bowl (without dairy-based protein powder).
Kai & Co in Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Kai & Co is located in the main town in Rarotonga called Avarua by the market.
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Aqua Cafe

Aqua Cafe is a laid-back restaurant overlooking the gardens and pool at Muri Beach Resort in Muri.

We had a veganised version of the Sizzling Fajitas with gluten-free tortillas, the Falafel Burger (which was great) and a mango juice.

The menu at Aqua Cafe has clearly marked dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

Falafel burger at Aqua cafe with onion rings
Falafel burger at Aqua cafe with onion rings.
Sizzling fajitas served poolside
Sizzling fajitas served poolside.

Nautilus Restaurant

We had dinner at Nautilus Resort in Muri and ordered a type of GnocchiGreen Thai Curry and a Chocolate Mousse – all vegan, of course.

The view over the lagoon is beautiful, the atmosphere at the restaurant is very relaxed and the food was good.

The menu changes quite often but vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked.

If you let the kitchen know in advance, they will be happy to create and modify dishes to suit your special dietary requirements.

Nautilus Restaurant in Muri
Nautilus Restaurant in Muri.
Green Thai Curry with rice and tofu
Green Thai Curry with rice and tofu.
Vegan chocolate mousse at Nautilus Restaurant
You have to treat yourself to the vegan chocolate mousse at Nautilus Restaurant.

Flying Turtle Café

The Flying Turtle Café is a hole-in-the-wall type place with outdoor seating.

They offer vegan options for a granola bowl (just omit the honey), a “spicy burger” and a plate called “Plant based” with lots of veggies.

The smoothies can be made with almond milk and if you order a granola bowl, you get granola and fresh fruit on top of it.

Granola Bowl at Flying Turtle Café
Granola Bowl at Flying Turtle Café with pineapple and papaya.

Other restaurants and cafés with vegan options

Many of the menu items at Beluga can be veganised and the staff seemed both knowledgeable about veganism and very service-minded.

A few of the cabinet items including a chia pudding were vegan.

La Casita and The Rickshaw (located in Muri next to each other) both have marked vegan options and serve up Mexican fare and Asian street food.

The New Place by the same owner, located in Avarua, also has a vegan menu.

Beluga Café Rarotonga
Beluga is one of the cafés in Rarotonga that have vegan offerings.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

We visited Rarotonga and the Cook Islands during the height of summer and the rainy season in January and February.

While that meant we had high temperatures and some rain, it also meant that a lot of the local fruits and vegetables were in-season.

The topsoil in Rarotonga is healthy and its crops are just magnificent.

They include bananas, avocados, mangos, pineapple, passion fruit, papayas, dragon fruit, custard apple, noni, starfruit and, of course, lots of coconuts.

Savouring these tropical delicacies at origin is not only super healthy; the fresh fruit also tastes incredible.

While you can buy fruit at the supermarkets, the local markets and small stalls at the side of the road offer the best produce.

And if you have permission to do so, picking fruit directly from the trees is the best thing ever.

Fruit in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
The fruit in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands is some of the tastiest you’ll ever have if you visit while it’s in season.
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Punanga Nui – Saturday Market

The big happening of the week is the Punanga Nui Market, open every Saturday.

While also open in a smaller version on weekdays, Saturday is when the whole island seems to show up.

It’s located in Avarua (the main township) next to the water and you won’t mistake it; it’s lively!

For the best shopping, plan to arrive early. Stalls open at around 7 am and close down around midday.

If you can get it in the Cook Islands, you can probably get it here.

Fresh fruit and veggies are a big drawcard as is coffee, smoothies, handmade souvenirs such as ukuleles, local artworks, handicrafts and flower crowns.

Even if you don’t buy anything, visiting the Punanga Nui Market is a fun cultural experience.

Punanga Nui Market
Punanga Nui Market on a Saturday.
A small stall at the market selling local produce
A small stall at the market selling local produce.
VMV's bread
VMV’s bread is amazing and sold at the market.

Supermarkets

There is a surprising number of supermarkets in Rarotonga.

Four of them are even open 24/7!

The biggest ones are located in the main town of Avarua.

If you need to buy something in bulk, head on over to CITC Supermarket. It’s absolutely huge and has the biggest selection of most things on the island.

Prime Foods is a lot smaller but also has a lot of fresh produce as well as frozen goods. There are a lot of Italian and Asian condiments for sale.

Outside Avarua, you have a selection of well-stocked gas stations as well as smaller “mom and pop”-type stores.

The prices are pretty much the same all over the island for most foods.

If you want to make sure you get something at the cheapest price or in the best possible variety, it can pay off to visit a few different stores.

Foodland in Avarua, Cook Islands
Foodland in Avarua.
CITC supermarket in Rarotonga
CITC supermarket is where to go for buying food in bulk in Rarotonga.

Wigmore’s Superstore

We were blown away by the selection of organic and specialty foods at Wigmore’s Superstore, located in the western part of Rarotonga.

The ”regular” aisles are about as well-stocked as most other places in Rarotonga. It’s when you walk into the little room saying ”Organic products” and ”Fresh produce” that Wigmore’s really show off.

Most of the organic products looked like they come from Ceres, a big Australian brand.

The vegan and gluten-free options were overwhelmingly good, the prices weren’t too bad and we just felt so happy that we could buy all of this luxurious stuff on a little island in the middle of the Pacific!

Honestly, the assortment here (for some items) was way better than what we could get in most supermarkets in New Zealand.

If you’re cooking for yourself while visiting Rarotonga, visiting Wigmore’s Superstore is a must.

Even if you aren’t, stop by anyway to stock up on organic nuts and other delicious snacks.

Wigmore's Superstore
Wigmore’s Superstore.
The organic section at Wigmore's
The organic section is really well-stocked with specialty stuff.
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Muri Night Market

The Muri Night Market is located in central Muri in the southeast of Rarotonga and is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5 pm to 8 pm.

While vegan options aren’t plentiful here, a few of the stalls offer vegetarian dishes that might either be customised to become vegan (or perhaps already are).

Map

Here’s a map showing all of the vegan-friendly cafés, restaurants, markets and supermarkets in Rarotonga mentioned in the article.

Click the icon in the top left corner of the map to navigate using a list.

Hungry for some vegan food?

We hope this guide has made you hungry for the vegan and vegetarian food in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.

Check out the Rarotonga, Cook Islands map on Happycow for an updated overview of all the animal-friendly places to eat on the island.

Have you tried any of the above-mentioned places? Or do you know of any restaurants or cafés on the island that we should visit next time?

See you in the comment section below.

A Vegan Eating Guide to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: The Best Restaurants & Cafés
A Vegan Eating Guide to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: The Best Restaurants & Cafés
A Vegan Eating Guide to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: The Best Restaurants & Cafés

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