Thing to do in Rarotonga - Umu / Umukai Experience

Do you want to experience a unique thing to do in Rarotonga? If the answer is yes make sure you try an Umukai Feast

This Rarotonga umukai feast experience is unique to Makayla Palms (see our image gallery below). In the Cook Islands on Rarotonga, the hospitality of locals Fred, Loving and family and the feast cooked in an umu (earth oven), is one of those unforgettable experiences/activities. The food is cooked in the traditional ways of the past, and if you wish you can watch the food go into the "oven". For our guests who book and experience our umu it is often the highlight of their own "things to do in Rarotonga list".

In Rarotonga kaikai means feast, and you can be assured it will be a truly traditional feast. Fred is a wonderful host and included in the evening you are entertained by his children and grandchild dancing in true Cook Islands style! A delight to watch.

To cook food in an umu, a fire is lit in a shallow pit and volcanic rocks placed on the fire. When these are red hot, the fire coals are cleared away and the umu food, wrapped in banana leaves and tied with kikau, is placed on top of the hot stones. Layers of dirt and then banana leaves are heaped on top to trap the heat and the food is steamed to keep in all the natural juices and flavours - for around four hours.

When the food is cooked it is lifted out of the umu and taken to the gazebo at Makayla Palms - onto a table decorated with the local ferns and flowers.

The evening is BYO and the guests gather together in the gazebo, where Fred explains all the dishes prepared for the feast... fish, pork, chicken, lamb, ika mata, chop suey, rukau pawpaw salad, potatoes, taro and a variety of other foods.

During the meal you are entertained by Fred's family and guitar. This is also a wonderful opportunity to talk with locals about their culture and lives on the island.