The Fish of the Cook Islands

Posted on March 8, 2017

A trip to any of the Cook Islands would not be complete without sampling the fresh and delicious seafood. Whilst the marine life around Rarotonga and Aitutaki makes for amazing snorkelling and diving, this post is not about the beautiful and colourful reef fish that you can chase around – this is all about the delicious game fish that can be caught off the islands and is a big feature on our daily menu at all our restaurants.

Depending on what time of year you visit the Cook Islands will dictate the varieties of fish you are likely to see on our menu each night. For some people, some of the fish varieties may be completely new – we have some pretty unique species that call our waters their home and the opportunity to try some of these fish is often too good to pass up. We regularly rotate our fish of the day and fish burger dishes on the daily menu and you can off course also sample the islands signature Iki Mata dish – a raw fish salad that is a ‘must’ on any visit to the Cook Islands.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the fish that can be found on our menus.


The main marlin season is from November to March/April and this delicious fish is a regular on our menu during this time. This meaty game fish is perfect for so many of our favourite dishes but our absolute favourite is the fish burger – yum!


Another great game fish of the Cook Islands, mahimahi can be caught all year round, however it is more commonly found on our menus between August to February. Mahimahi means ‘very strong’ in Hawaiian and the mahimahi fish gives a great fight to those who love to go out deep sea fishing.


This is one of our favourite fish if only for the name! The wahoo is an extremely fast fish and offers up a great catch for sports fishermen. The flesh of a wahoo fish is quite delicate and is often compared to a mackerel. Definitely one to try if you have never had it before. Typically the wahoo will feature on our menus from June to November and they can get pretty big around Rarotonga.

Yellowfin Tuna

Perhaps a more well-known fish, the yellowfin tuna can be found off the coast of the Cook Islands and can be seen on the menu all year round although peak season is June to September. Sometimes referred to as ‘ahi’, the yellowfin tuna is among the largest tuna species and is used in a lot of raw fish dishes including Iki Mata.


The sailfish is commonly mistaken for a swordfish due to its elongated bill. They are a highly prized gamefish. They are not caught that often as they tend to be found further out to sea whereas a lot of the fishing in the Cook Islands is done closer to shore. Definitely worth a try if you are lucky enough to see them on the menu!

Giant Trevally

The reef areas around Rarotonga provide the perfect home for giant trevally and they are renowned as one of the best gamefish due to their size and speed. Due to overfishing around the world, the giant trevally is now a prime candidate for catch and release programmes and is not a fish we see on our menus as Pacific Resort Hotel Group. It does provide a great catch for sports fishermen however.


This unusual looking fish is new to many people visiting the Cook Islands although it is a common fish found on our menus. The Moonfish and Sunfish are very similar looking species and can grow to enormous sizes. If you see it on one of our menus, we definitely recommend giving it a whirl.


Broadbill is more commonly known as swordfish and is regularly found off the shores of the Cook Islands and are a regular feature on our menus. This meaty fish is perfect for our yummee fish burgers or one of our delicious fish of the day dishes and is pretty similar in taste and texture to a marlin.

Albacore Tuna

Any species in the tuna family, the albacore tuna is a staple of many Pacific Islands. Due to its popularity, the albacore tuna is listed as near threatened due to overfishing and here on the Cook Islands we only fish for albacore tuna is a responsible way, taking only what we need and ensuring the long term sustainability of the ocean that surrounds our beautiful islands.

So there you have it. Whether you’re a fish lover or not, with so many different species swimming around the shores of the Cook Islands, it would be a shame not to give at least one fish dish a go. We source our fish from local suppliers and we are committed to the long terms sustainability of our oceans, ensuring we only purchase fish that has been caught responsibly.

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