VANUATU TRAVEL TIPS
FOOD & DRINK
In general food is very safe to eat in Espiritu Santo and Vanuatu. Santo is the organic beef capital of the south Pacific so there is lots of fantastic quality, cheap beef on offer. And in addition to the tropical fruit and vegetables on offer, you can always try “lap lap”, the Vanuatu version of a Maori hungi with chicken and grated yam or manioc/taro smothered in freshly made coconut cream, wrapped in leaves and baked in an earth oven under hot volcanic stones.
In terms of groceries, there are plenty of supermarkets and Chinese stores in Luganville, Santo that supply the basics, including Aussie wine, local and imported beer, spirits and cheese (LCM, Wong Sze Sing, Daming, Unity Shop/Pacific Petrol , Esah etc). Just don’t expect a lot of variety or luxuries like blueberries and strawberries and expect to pay a fortune for lettuce or other imported western veges! The good news is there’s a great local produce market at the south end of town on the left hand side which sells a variety of cheap fruits and vegetables as well as nuts, homemade sweet potato chips and occasionally tomatoes and avocados! Opposite the markets is a butchers owned by ex-pats so its clean and sells a variety of reasonably priced chicken, beef pork and (sometimes) fish.
There is a also fresh fish store on the right about halfway along the main street (ask someone for directions to this). Keep in mind many reef fish in Santo have ciguatera which is a toxin and can make you very sick. Eat only deep water fish like snapper, tuna poulet etc.
Our favourite store Daming, can be found first right after the markets (look for the COLD BEER sign), they have a great variety of alcohol, food, ice cream and even a cheap butchers which also sells fish!
Our favourite cafe is the Natangora Cafe in town, great food cheap prices and free internet. If you want a bargain meal stop at one of the little huts opposite the vege markets and you can get a huge meal of beef or chicken, rice and vegetables for the grand sum of around $4-5 Australian – its what the Ni-vans do and we have never gotten sick from the food there (as it is prepared daily). It’s nothing fancy but it is filling! There are more of these huts in the park behind the markets as well as a traditional Vanuatu fast food/takeaway kitchen near the water run by a group of Ni-Van ladies. If you prefer your food with a view try Deco Stop Lodge on the hill above town.
On the east coast we are lucky to have a large choice of fantastic places to eat and drink. Closest is Turtle Bay Lodge, food is reasonable in price and tasty. They also have a great bar and a beautiful outdoor eating area overlooking Turtle Bay.
Then there is Oyster Island Resort just down the road about 5km, a free barge gets you out to the island, food is reasonable, views and atmosphere to die for , best value is their Sunday lunch buffet (they also do massage!). Lope Lope Bar/restaurant and Moyyan B & B are back down the road towards Luganville about 10 kms. Both have great food, great atmosphere, and they’re right on the water – Moyyan is particularly good and the view from the restaurant is to die for (so bring your swimmers) – they also do massage packages. There is small Ni-Van run cafe at Jackies Blue Hole (about 5 kms north). And if you are heading into Champagne Beach stop in at Lonnoc Beach Bungalows for lunch (again average food, awesome location). Same goes for some beautiful beachfront restaurants in Port Olry (make sure to order first then go for a swim as the wait is often quite long).
For guests staying at Turtle Bay Beach House, please note that there are no nearby shops so do all your shopping in town before you come out! The main Beach House has a fully equipped kitchen complete with small bench top oven, microwave and large fridge. The cottages are equipped with a kitchenette only, including microwave, small electric wok cooker, toaster, kettle, bar fridge etc. There is also a communal electric BBQ guests can use either on the overwater deck or in the BBQ nakamal (in case of rain).