The Coffee Countdown: The Best Cafés in Rarotonga

Rarotonga is the biggest and most populous of the Cook Islands, which are located in the central South Pacific. If you’re seeking to escape the busy and bustling sound of the metro – or just seeking a tropical island getaway – then this little paradise is what you’ve been looking for. There is so much to see and do here, whether that be hiking the cross-island (it only takes three to four hours!), enjoying some beach therapy, shopping at the local markets, or attending the cultural night shows. And if your stomach starts to rumble or you just want to sit and sip, indulge yourself in the best cafés Rarotonga has to offer…

LBV (Le Bon Vivant) Café

Do you like pastries?

If you happen to go to Muri Village, there is a very popular café that you cannot miss – especially if you are a bread lover!

LBV – or Le Bon Vivant Café is a delightful bakery that serves wonderful French-inspired bread and cakes that everyone truly adores. LBV’s location is familiar to the local villagers because the original historic dwelling used to home the Muri Village Chief, but now it has been restored and remodeled to become one of the most well-liked destinations in the village community.

If you are searching for the best coffee on the island, you will find it here! Aside from bread and coffee, your taste buds will also be satisfied with their succulent salads, gourmet sandwiches, donuts, piquant pizzas, pies, and quiches (just to name a few).

The café is open daily, but if you’re wanting to dine in the evenings, make sure you pay a visit from Tuesday to Friday only. The dinner menu is always being updated, making use of the seasonal produce and delectable harvest. Booking in advance is recommended.

Find Le Bon Vivant here!

Photograph courtesy of LBV’s Facebook page

Café Salsa

If your kinda thing is pizzas with a twist and Pacific Rim cuisine, Café Salsa is the ultimate hang-out place.

This stylish storefront cafe in downtown Avarua serves all-day breakfast and lunch. They are open from 7:30 am until 3 pm on Monday through to Friday, and 7:30 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Café Salsa offers bistro-style dining that is ideal for catching up with friends and family.

Café Salsa boasts a diverse menu combining Mediterranean and Asian flavors. In my opinion, the stand-out dishes are the wood-roasted mahi-mahi fillet with slow-roasted tomatoes, pine nuts and feta, and their Thai-style octopus curry. Café Salsa is also the home of Rarotonga’s only wood-fired pizza oven, baking gourmet pizzas made from fresh and healthy local ingredients. Their coconut pancake is particularly divine, and I could not resist consuming it in under a minute!

The friendly and efficient baristas can whip up an affogato, iced coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or double shot of espresso with some frothy hot milk on the side in an instant. If you’re after a pleasant dining experience in relaxing surroundings, look no further.

Find Café Salsa here!

Photographs courtesy of Café Salsa’s Facebook page

Coco Latte

Have you ever had a BLT with an iced mocha for breakfast?

At Coco Latte, this is the most in-demand food combination and is the reason why visitors keep coming back. This extremely beloved cafe has a distinguished menu for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. You can eat an eggs benedict with salmon together with their famous coconut milkshake, or if you prefer refreshing and dairy-free homemade juices, Coco Latte’s got your back. I thoroughly enjoyed the portion sizes and presentable, scrumptious meals.

You’ll find this favourite breakfast spot in Vaimaanga with outdoor seating and picnic tables with umbrellas for shade. The café is open six days a week from 8am, Sunday to Friday. Coco Latte has hands-on owners that personally welcomed us, and the remarkable friendliness of their staff is part of what made our visit unforgettable.

Find Coco Latte here!

Photograph courtesy of Coco Latte’s TripAdvisor page

Charlie’s Café & Bar

Water sports, entertainment, and tasty meals can all be found at Charlie’s Café and Bar at Akapuao Beach in Titikaveka.

Charlie’s gives visitors a great workout with kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and snorkel equipment for hire. Going by water is simply the best way to explore and travel around the lagoon. When you grow tired, it’s time to reward yourself with fish burgers, cheese-melt paninis, pan-fried chicken and fresh salads. The fish sandwich especially will not disappoint.

Sip their perfect blend of espresso coffee or try their island-infused smoothies to quench your thirst. If you’re still craving sweets, whet your appetite with some cakes, scones, and muffins for dessert 😋

Charlie’s Café and Bar is open on weekdays from 11 am to 8 pm – and don’t miss their live music every night from 6:30 pm! Last but not least, if you plan to visit over the weekend, bear in mind that they are only open on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm.

Find Charlie’s Café and Bar here!

Photograph courtesy of Charlie’s Café and Bar Tripadvisor page

Deli-Licious Café Ltd.

Wi-Fi on an island? Impossible!

Nope… not anymore.

Enjoy an awesome meal whilst checking your email with another excellent cafe on Muri Beach. Though Deli-Licious Café Ltd. is right across the road from the Le Bon Vivant Café, this inexpensive coffee shop and internet café is slowly establishing itself as an island staple. Their home-style cooking is sating their customers, and I highly recommend devouring their Denheath custard square, passion fruit cheesecake, or cream leamington!

Deli-Licious has an all-day breakfast menu and is open six days a week, Sunday to Friday from 7 am to 3 pm. Their customer service is superb, their prices are very reasonable, and their coffee will have you visiting again and again and again.

Find Deli-Licious Café Ltd. here!

Photograph courtesy of Deli-Licious Café Ltd.’s Tripadvisor page

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I had a wonderful experience traveling to Raratonga, and I will definitely be returning to experience what other pursuits this island has to offer. I find it fascinating to visit places I’ve previously never heard of – that’s the true essence of adventure, right?

Author Bio

Samantha Rosario is a blogger at Pound Coffee, a mother, and a resident of the greatest city in the world: New York City. When not working at a Manhattan publishing house, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits. She is also an avid runner and swimmer, and aims to complete an Ironman in 2018 💪

A note from the Ginge…

Kia orana! I sincerely hope you have enjoyed Samantha’s delightful little piece about the five best cafés to visit in Raro. It certainly made me nostalgic for my trip there way back in 2015. While you’re here, be sure to watch 30 Seconds to Convince You to Travel to Rarotonga, a (literally 30 second) clip of personal footage that I threw together of some of the island’s unbelievable beauty…

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The Green Traveler: 5 Eco-Friendly Destinations to Visit This Year

The principles of eco-tourism are continually rising in popularity as the world becomes more environmentally conscious. Many tourists now seek eco-friendly activities and accommodation during their travels as a way of protecting the communities they visit. You can enjoy a much richer travel experience knowing that your presence isn’t harming the environment nor the wellbeing of the locals.

Certain countries are leading the way regarding eco-tourism, making it a top priority to unite conservation, local communities, and responsible travel. Here are some of the best eco-friendly destinations to visit this year…

New Zealand

Over the years, New Zealand has worked hard to protect its spectacular natural beauty and wildlife by practising sustainable travel. New Zealand offers an abundance of eco-friendly tours and activities, including bird-watching, dolphin and whale-watching, and nature cruises.

One of my favourite places to see wildlife up close is the Otago Peninsula. Located in Dunedin, the Otago Peninsula is rightfully recognised as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, and offers a unique opportunity to see the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross.

I’d also recommend a visit to the Glowworm Caves. Set in the Waikato Region, this tour showcases an incredible light display of thousands of glowworms inside the Waitomo Caves. The experience of watching this light show is truly magical, and one you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

Photography courtesy of Alex Siale for Unsplash

Samoa

Samoa is one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the South Pacific. The islands of Samoa are comprised of gorgeous reefs, beaches, and lush rainforests occupied by crystal waterfalls and breathtaking gorges. Eco-tourism is widely embraced in Samoa, where responsible tour operators are regulated and are proud to protect Samoa’s delicate environment, economy, and marine life. These tours are also supported by many of Samoa’s eco-friendly hotels. The eco-friendly accommodation options in Samoa ensure that tourists have a unique travel experience without compromising the welfare of the environment.

Photograph courtesy of Moon for Unsplash

Iceland

Iceland’s breathtaking scenic beauty has made it a bucket-list destination for many travellers who are enthusiastic about ‘nature tourism’ (look it up!). The dramatic landscape has a form unlike anywhere else on earth, made up of volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs, and geysers.  

Iceland boasts a well-deserved reputation as one of the most environmentally-conscious countries in the world. Over the years, the country’s government has continued to fight against ocean pollution, and actively promotes the use of hydroelectrical and geothermal resources for heat and electricity production, particularly in the nation’s capital city, Reykjavik.

You can find one of Iceland’s most amazing eco-friendly activities in the town of Húsavík, where you can go whale-watching in an electric-powered ship named Opal. Opal was designed and built over half a century ago as a trawler, and has now been converted to operate carbon free and cause the least amount of noise disturbance to the whales. Even though Opal runs on electricity, it is rigged like a beautiful, traditional sailing ship, and can even recharge its batteries at sea when the ship is under sail.

Photograph courtesy of Giuseppe Mondì for Unsplash

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been yet another primary leader of the eco-tourism movement. This small yet captivating corner of Central America currently produces 95% of its electricity from renewable resources, with a goal to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2020. Costa Rica has over 12 main ecosystems, which is said to take up 5% of the world’s biodiversity. With a growing selection of eco-lodges situated in mountains, volcanic regions, and alongside national parks, Costa Rica is an ideal destination for the green traveller.

Photograph courtesy of Max Boettinger for Unsplash

Norway

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Norway is often voted as one of the best places in the world to live. The essence of its appeal lies largely in its natural beauty and outdoor adventures like cliff-climbing, hiking, and kayaking. This Scandinavian country is indeed powered by nature, as its official slogan claims. There is so much to see and explore here, from mountains and glaciers to deep coastal fjords and waterfalls. Norway is dedicated to preserving its amazing landscape, with many green initiatives working towards responsible tourism.

Photograph courtesy of Mikita Karasiou for Unsplash

If you are looking for inspiring, eco-friendly destinations to explore and gain a greater appreciation for the world’s precious environment, New Zealand, Samoa, Iceland, Costa Rica, and Norway are just a handful of choices. Sustainable tourism by visitors who respect the environment is especially important, as the revenue generated through tourism will help to fund more eco-friendly initiatives in these countries for the future.

Author Bio

Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand ,who is passionate about travel and adventure. She enjoys taking impromptu hikes with friends or driving along New Zealand’s most scenic routes. However, most days you’ll find Harper planning her next travel adventure – with Norway next on her list. See more of her work here.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

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4 Reasons Why Travel is Rewarding for Everyone

People travel for lots of different reasons. Whether you’re setting off on your dream holiday, taking the opportunity to go traveling in between studying, or getting some much-needed time away from the everyday grind, visiting another country (or countries) is on a lot of people’s to-do lists.

No matter what your motivations are, it’s an experience you’ll never forget — for all the right reasons. But in case you need convincing, here are four reasons why travel is rewarding for everyone…

You’ll learn about different cultures

Staying in a place which has different traditions, a different way of living, and a different way of thinking to what you’re accustomed to can be a bit of a shock to start with. But over time, you’ll become more open-minded and learn to see and understand life from the locals’ perspective (even if you don’t always share the same opinions).

A particularly vivid memory of mine is when I spent several weeks in Vietnam and had the opportunity to learn the process of growing rice and experience riding a water buffalo. At the time, I wasn’t convinced by the prospect of getting my hands dirty (literally), but afterwards, I had a newfound appreciation for rural Vietnamese life and agriculture.

In addition to locals, you’ll meet new people from all over the world; some of whom may become friends you will stay in touch with long after your trip is over.

You’ll have new experiences and give your brain a workout

Travel can be the perfect way to mix things up if you’re stuck in a rut. New places, new food, better weather (sometimes!)… all of these combine to create something fresh, which is ideal when you need a break. You could even take a class — why not try learning traditional dancing in India or cooking in Thailand?

Furthermore – just like any other muscle – your brain needs exercise. Being thrown into a new situation is an excellent way of making it work hard. The pathways in the brain that are used most often stay strong, whilst those that aren’t are more likely to become weaker. Having a break from your usual routine will force the lesser-used parts of the brain to become active, so the more you travel and try new things, the stronger your brain becomes.

You can tailor the trip to suit you

Whether you’re a student on a gap year, a family of four, a traveller with a medical condition or an office worker taking a break, the flexibility of modern travel means your plans can be shaped around your needs. This means that it’s worth doing some research to find deals that suit you.

There are lots of options available. A quick internet search will take you to the most thrifty budget options if you’re cautious about spending too much money or need to book family-friendly accommodation.

Don’t forget; travel doesn’t have to be exclusive. There’s plenty of information online about the best destinations for disabled travellers. Any attraction worth its salt will have taken accessibility into account, with many providing designated tours, guides, and mobility aids such as wheelchairs.

You’ll overcome challenges

Unexpected hiccups happen. It’s part of life, and it’s part of travelling. But don’t let that put you off — you’ll get a confidence boost after you deal with them and you’ll be better equipped for the future.

The day I had planned to visit Ha Long Bay (because apparently everything happens in Vietnam), I was struck with ceaseless bad luck: first I woke up terribly ill. Then my friend and I were given the wrong itinerary and nearly missed the bus. Then I left half of my luggage in the hotel room. Then I had hot coffee spilt all over me. And then – just to top it off – our boat was cancelled and replaced with one not nearly as thrilling as the one we had booked and paid for.

Things weren’t exactly what you would call smooth-sailing (pun intended). Nevertheless, I was left with two options: either let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity fly by, or chug on. As I wrote in my blog post, despite all of the misfortunes, three shining positives came out of what was set to be a very negative experience. 1) I saw the unforgettable grandeur of Ha Long Bay 2) I gained the confidence that I can take ownership in a sticky situation 3) I unearthed the ability to put a dreadful incident behind me and see it, not as a waste of money, but as a learning curve.

You’d be surprised at what you can do when you need to solve a problem, and there are few things more rewarding than successfully tackling any obstacles in your path.

This article was co-written with Matthew

Matthew has always been a weekend traveller. He is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Forestry and Environmental Studies, and works as a freelance writer for a few travel and pro-environment websites. He has traveled to Europe and North America, and he’s planning to tour around Asia once he’s completed his studies.

Photographs courtesy of Unsplash

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