Rarotonga is blessed with some good and interesting restaurants. Most make use of fresh fish caught by the country's small long-line fishing fleet. You'll see broadbill sailfish, swordfish, and other species offered alongside the usual tuna and mahimahi found everywhere in the South Pacific.

Like the hotels listed, I have arranged the restaurants by geographic location on Muri Beach, at Titikaveka and the south coast, and on the west coast, plus in the town of Avarua, where everyone goes shopping and bar-hopping.

In Avarua

The Bus Stop Shop, a convenience store opposite the Cook's Corner bus stop (tel. 22-787), carries very good pastries, meat pies, and packaged sandwiches, as well as groceries. It's open Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6pm and Saturday 7:30am to 4pm. If you get the late-night munchies, Oasis Energy, on the main road west of the airport (tel. 22-145), is open 24/7 for sandwiches, salads, meat pies, coffee, groceries, and gasoline.

Cook Islands Chow

Like their counterparts throughout Polynesia, in pre-European days the Cook Islanders cooked all their food in an earth oven -- known here as an umu -- and they still do for special occasions. The food (umukai) is as finger-licking good today as it was hundreds of years ago, although it's now eaten with knives and forks rather than fingers during "Island Nights" at Rarotonga's hotels, which include Cook Island dance shows. The hotels provide a wide assortment of salads and cold cuts for those who are not fond of taro, arrowroot, and ika mata (the local version of poisson cru -- fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with coconut milk and raw vegetables).

Get a schedule of island nights from Cook Islands Tourism Corporation. Also check the daily Cook Islands News (especially the Thursday and Friday editions) or with the hotels to find out when the feasts are on. Most buffets cost about NZ$65 (US$52/£26). Some of them may charge a small admission fee to see the dance show if you don't have dinner.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.