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Last updated : Nov 2009
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Food & Drink

There are several restaurants in the main tourist areas. Seafood exists hugely on hotel and restaurant menus in Port - Vila and the major towns. The numerous ethnic backgrounds of the inhabitants of Vanuatu are displayed in different styles of cooking. French and Chinese influences are the strongest. Food is generally brilliant everywhere. French cheese, bread, pâtés, cognac and wine are available in Port - Vila’s 2 major shops. Local fruit is outstanding.

National specialities include Lap Lap, a grated yam, banana or manioc smothered in coconut cream and cooked in an earth oven, as well as Coconut crab.

One National drink is Kava, a soporific drink made from the root of a plant related to the pepper tree. Vanuatu kava is the strongest in the world, and although the drink is non – alcoholic, it is exhilarating.


Port - Vila has many nightclubs with dancing and music. There is also a cinema. Evening cruises are organised with snacks, wine and island music. Traditional music and dancing take place at a variety of island festivities to which visitors are welcome, and some hotels put on evening entertainment and dancing. Details are available from the Vanuatu National Tourism Office.


Special purchases include grass skirts from Tanna and Futuna, baskets and mats from Futuna and Pentecost, woodwork from Tongoa and Santo, carved forms and masks from Ambrym and Malekula, and pig tusks and necklaces made of shells or colourful seeds from villages near Port - Vila. Duty free shops sell a variety of luxury items.

General Shopping hours are Monday to Friday from 7.00 am to 8.00 pm. Some shops open Saturday mornings. Chinese stores also open Sunday mornings from 8.00 am and in the evenings. Most shops close from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm (except banks, restaurants, supermarkets and the Post Office). The market in the town centre is open every day (except Sunday) for fruit, flowers, vegetables and handicrafts.


Tipping is not expected or encouraged in Vanuatu, as it goes against local tradition.