Trading six days a week since its inception in 1992, with the ground-breaking ceremony performed by Prince Edward, Punanga Nui Cultural Market is a sprawling site in the capital town of Avarua doing a brisk trade in fresh produce and fish, local crafts, clothing, music and more. Spending Saturday mornings at the market is a tradition for locals and visitors alike.
For friendly ambience infused with music, dancing and drums, this Rarotonga market is an island shopping experience not to be missed. Local produce like honey and indigenous organic fruit, herbs and vegetables jostle for space with freshly caught fish, tropical flowers and noni products for a riot of colour and sensory overload. Start the day local-style with a coffee and a coconut bun while you discover over 130 stalls laden with traditional arts and crafts like carved pearls and shells, whale bone necklaces, handmade quilts and printed pareus (sarongs) as well as souvenir t-shirts, woven bags and more.
The most popular and most numerous stalls within Punanga Nui Cultural Market are the cooked food tents. Try fresh smoothies, kebabs, waffles, local delicacies like chicken with taro, poke (a mix of local fruit and cassava) and ika mata (marinated raw fish) as well as coconut everything. There's even a stall selling wines and liqueurs made from bananas, passionfruit and soursop from the Koteka Winery. The laidback atmosphere and vibrancy of the market, especially on market day Saturday, make this trading site a social event as well as a shopping experience. Local and visiting cultural groups often put on fundraising performances that add to the market vibe by showcasing traditional dancing, music and singing.
The market is located on the coastal road near Avatiu Harbour in Avarua. To get to Punanga Nui Cultural Market, take the island bus or wander down from the town centre.