Tag Archives: Cook Islands

Fun Photo Friday — Rarotonga Favorites 2


Kayaking for Two in the Blue

One last look at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, before I take you on a photographic journey around both Australia and New Zealand:

Listening for the Strains of the Five-O Theme

Biking and Boating

Gentle Surf Framed by Trees

Seeing Red at Charlie’s

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Rarotonga, Cook Islands — Dining at Charlie’s and Trader Jacks


Me at Charlie’s

Today is a twofer — two Rarotonga, Cook Islands restaurant reviews. The first one on today’s menu (see what I did there?) is Charlie’s in the Takitumu District on the south side of Rarotonga. Charlie’s was easy to get to from our rental in the adjoining Muri District, about a fifteen-minute walk. Ursula read about this place before we arrived, and she told me that Charlie’s is famous for their fish sandwich. So, after seeing one walked by, we opted to split a sandwich and order of fries. A good thing, because it was massive! But first you have to go to the ordering window to place place your order:

Charlie’s ordering station

What you get when retrieve your order is an enormous amount of wonderfully fresh fries and a huge sandwich with a delightfully crisp fillet of fresh island fish. We included with our shared dinner a couple of Bundaberg ginger beers, which we fell in love with during a prior trip to Australia:

Charlie’s HUGE fish sandwich, fries, and our favorite ginger beer

Now, normally, a restaurant review wouldn’t be worth much with only one item in the review. But you’re in luck. We shared a table with a charming Australian couple who allowed me to photograph their dinners and who shared with me their impressions. First up is the New Zealand grilled rump steak with island vegetables, which smelled wonderful and was proclaimed by the diner a winner:

Charlie’s — New Zealand beef

Her husband opted for the fish platter, which didn’t look to me very appetizing. Apparently, our dining companion agreed. Good, but not great was his take.

Charlie’s Fish of the Day

One great thing everyone agreed upon were the sunset views from Charlie’s, which I showed you during last week’s Fun Photo Friday. An even more spectacular sunset from Charlie’s awaits you this Friday.

Sunset at Charlie’s Café

Now it’s off to Trader Jacks in Avarua, the largest town located on the island. It’s on the north shore of Rarotonga.

Trader Jacks in Avarua

This place was good enough to warrant two visits, so you’ll see four different meals reviewed here.

Ursula ready to chow down at Trader Jacks

Trader Jacks has two dining areas. One is inside, but what’s the fun in that?

Trader Jacks indoor dining

The other offers great views of surf, sand, and even the rusting remains from an old shipwreck dating back to 1916.

Trader Jacks covered outdoor dining

Wreck of the S.S. Matai (1916)

But we’re here for the food, starting with my fish and chips. Neither fish nor chip was anything to write home about, but they were passable. The fries were obviously of the frozen variety, and a quick conversation with the waitress confirmed that. They were good, but not great. The fish fillet was moist and tender, but when you fry up a piece of fish this thick it becomes difficult to achieve a crispy coating. If you do achieve it, it doesn’t last long.

Trader Jacks fish ‘n’ chips

Ursula’s seafood chowder was a better choice. She loved it, and I concur with her assessment. It was creamy, and chock-full of seafood and root vegetables. Accompanying this tasty chowder was a generous serving of buttered garlic toast.

Trader Jacks seafood chowder with garlic toast

Unfortunately, Trader Jacks does not serve our favorite Bundaberg, so we opted for a ginger beer from Schweppes. Again, okay, but not great.

Ginger beer

Two days after this visit we again found ourselves taking the local bus around the island back to Avarua. We’d already tried Muri Night Market a couple of times, so we decided to head back to Trader Jacks. Having learned my lesson on fish and chips, I opted this trip for the pizza. I was not disappointed. This particular one was their Traders Supreme, which came with pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked ham, onion, capsicum, tomato, an olives. I ordered the pizza extra crisp, and that’s exactly what I received.

Trader Jacks “Traders Supreme” pizza

Ursula ordered this time a dish that is native to Rarotonga. It’s called ika mata, and it’s kind of the Cook Islands equivalent to poke, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the shared Polynesian ancestry of the early Hawaiian and Cook Island settlers. Trader Jacks‘ version is called Te Ika Mata, and it includes fresh raw island tuna marinated in lime juice from Mauke. This is topped off with coconut cream and fresh vegetables. Steamed taro root is served as a side.

Te Ika Mata — local tuna, lime juice, coconut cream, vegetables, served with taro

Next week this blog leaves behind the marvelous Cook Islands for Sydney, Australia, which is precisely what we did this past February. From Sydney we’ll be jumping aboard a cruise ship for a complete circumnavigation of the Australian continent, with a follow-on cruise around New Zealand. Hope to see you there!

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Rarotonga, Cook Islands — Taking in the Sights


Panorama from our beach cottage

Ursula and I absolutely love the island of Rarotonga, the most populated of the Cook Islands. We fell in love during our first visit in the mid-1990s, and this was our first trip back since then. Also a fun place in the Cooks is the island of Aitutaki, but, alas, we did not make the trek out there on this trip.

Beach outside our cottage

As you can see from these first several photographs, we had quite the beach just outside our oceanfront cottage. Here’s another view of the beach:

Beach outside our cottage

Even from the back porch the views were lovely:

View from our back porch

But the Muri District of Rarotonga is not the only area sporting magnificent views and stunning photographic opportunities. For the rest of today’s article I’m going to concentrate on the sights in and near Avarua on the north side of Rarotonga.

View from Avarua shoreline

Many of today’s images were taken at or near Trader Jacks, one of two restaurants I’ll review on this Wednesday’s article.

Breakers seen from Trader Jacks

One such view from Trader Jacks is the wreck of the S.S. Matai, a steam ship that ran aground and sank on Christmas day in 1916. The main boiler still protrudes today above the surf:

Wreck of the S.S. Matai (1916)

That wreck is farther out that it appears above from Trader Jacks. Here it is again from the Avarua shoreline west of where the photo above was taken”

Avarua, with SS Matia near the horizon

Looking for some really colorful flora to photograph? On of the most stunning on Rarotonga is the flamboyant tree, or flame free (Delonix regia), and there were in bloom everywhere:

Flame tree in bloom

One of my favorite ways to add depth and interest to beach shots is to frame them with vegetation. There are several examples of that above, but here’s another taken from Avarua:

Avarua, Rarotonga

Now let’s head back toward Trader Jacks and enjoy a few more views:

Looking out from Trader Jacks, Avarua

Fishin’ & Bikin’ outside Trader Jacks

Fishing boat near Avarua

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