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The capital Port Vila, located on Efate Island, is a central and lively hub. With interesting historical influences, Port Vila is a melting pot of Ni Vanuatu, French, English and Chinese shops and restaurants. The markets are the life of the town with locals and tourists alike shopping for a vast array of local produce. From Port Vila it is easy to travel around the outer islands – each with something totally different to offer.
Vanuatu’s incredible diversities from geography to culture bestow on travellers to this exotic destination a multitude of sightseeing options. The outer islands offer the opportunity to really experience Vanuatu. Each one has its own unique culture and attractions and the visitor will be richly rewarded with the variety of experiences they offer. All around each and every stunning island is the backdrop of the glistening South Pacific Ocean. Discover the nation of Vanuatu – and be mindful of its bewitching spell which will lure you back again and again.
Port Vila has become famous for being a diners’ paradise. The fresh seafood and local produce are superbly prepared into tantalizing dishes. When you dine out in Port Vila you are assured of a fantastic experience as there is everything on offer here. Try the local Poulet fish or a fresh lobster for seafood or get to know cuisines that are influenced from traditional recipes as well as French and other nationalities - the variety is simply astounding. Try a succulent Santo beef steak, local Teoma prawns or be adventurous and sample rousette (flying fox), nautou (ground pigeon) and escargots (snails). The national dish is called Laplap. Laplap is made from grounded yam or taro roots, often with pieces of pork, chicken, fish or flying fox added, wrapped in spinach leaves that are then soaked in a coconut and water mixture before being cooked in an underground oven. For vegetarians there is the traditional nalot. At the outer islands, restaurants outside resorts are very few. Most of the menus will have limited choices and be confined to local produce and island foods. Rice is included in many meals. Sample fresh vegetables, fruit and cuisine at the local markets. For self-caterers these are the places to stock up at budget prices for the best food on offer.
A night out in Vanuatu always begins with a “shell”. A shell is a drink of Kava made from the root of a plant similar to the pepper tree and has been used for centuries throughout the Pacific. Vanuatu Kava is renowned for being the strongest in the world, boasting 32 active components. Note though, if you are thinking of indulging: Kava is not an alcoholic drink. It is an intoxicant, the only legal narcotic in world. It is not addictive, nor does it have damaging side effects. However, it does not taste at all nice, so skull it and then follow it with a sweet chaser. For it to have any effect the locals advice drinking two to three shells over a few minutes on an empty stomach.
Throughout Vanuatu there are excellent traditional arts and crafts. For traditional crafts, fine weaving remains supreme. Mostly produced by women, baskets and mats made from pandanus leaves and burao (wild hibiscus) stalks are customary tourist souvenirs. Carvings, shell and bead necklaces, headdresses, ankle rattles, carved bowls, masks and tree fern figures are also well-known.
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