As some of you may know, we recently got back from Vanuatu. This country will always hold a special place in our hearts as it was in Port Vila that Mr. Spittoon and I got married (such an AMAZING day and I will share more details with you soon!). Naturally our wedding/holiday/honeymoon involved a lot of food, wine and various other alcoholic beverages (helloo Pina Colada!) so I wanted to share some of our highlights with you.
If you’re planning a holiday to Port Vila, Vanuatu then based off our experiences this is where I would suggest all you winos and foodies head:
1. The Duty-Free Stores!
If you’re not already aware of how good the duty-free shopping is in Port Vila then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. There are numerous shops in town full of booze, perfume and goodies all at duty-free prices. And the prices aren’t like your regular duty-free airport shops. The ones in Port Vila are selling things like Hendricks Gin 1 litre bottles for AU$28! We picked up a bottle of Veuve Clicquot 2004 La Grande Dame for AU$140 which is currently selling at Dan Murphy’s for AU$240!
I would recommend shopping around, they are all within walking distance of another, so jot down the prices to make sure you get the best deal for what you’re after as we noticed the prices for the same products differed a bit throughout the different stores. When you purchase duty-free in town, take your ticket with you and the store organises your goods to be transported direct to Port Vila Bauerfield International Airport for you to collect at the gate before boarding.
2. The Stonegrill Restaurant
Mr. Spittoon and I both agree this was probably our favourite dinning experience (except for our wedding reception of course!) – from the food, wine and service, it was all excellent.
Neither of us actually realised the concept of a stonegrill, but we soon worked out that we’d be cooking our own food at the table! I opted for the mixed seafood grill with lobster tail, scallops, prawns, mussels and squid which were all super fresh and tasty. While Mr. Spittoon went for the 3 beef option which consisted of 3 different cuts of steak – he loved it! Both came with the option of 2 sides and we both went for the chips and the delicious french green beans. I am not sure what those beans were cooked in but they were stunning! I had a lemon cream sauce with my meal and Mr. Spittoon a pepper sauce.
The wine list was fairly decent, we ended up opting for a kiwi Sauv Blanc which was absolute heaven with my seafood. After our meal we were given a shot of caramel vodka on the house as a ‘digestive’ – it was very tasty! But above all, we cannot fault the service these guys provided, they were happy, helpful and treated us like royalty. A big thanks to the team!
Off the top of my head, for both meals and the bottle of wine it was about AU$150.
3. Wild Ginger at Warwick Le Lagon
Mr. Spittoon and I snuck away from the families one night prior to the wedding to have an absolute lovely dinner at Wild Ginger on the Warwick Le Lagon property. As we were staying at the resort, it was nice not to have to stroll to far for a good meal! I had one of my favourite dishes at Wild Ginger – it was a Santo beef steak on a miso infused potato cake – absolute superb! The restaurant was fairly quiet the night we went so it meant we were well attended to and our meals came out quick.
Mr. Spittoon had the 5 spice chicken however his food envy over my dish was just a little bit distracting for him! We enjoyed a bottle of bubbles with our meals and all up it came to about AU$125.
4. Mangoes Restaurant
Mangoes Resort is where we stayed for 7 nights after the wedding, our little honeymoon escape to ‘wine’ down from the wedding before coming home. A light breakfast was included in our nightly rate so we ate at the restaurant every morning plus we also had lunch there one day and dinner one evening. And naturally we enjoyed many beverages with our 10 for the price of 8 cocktail cards! Not to mention happy hour 5-6pm every night with cocktails for AU$10 and glasses of wine for AU$7.
Breakfast was always good, and we also enjoyed that we had the option to upgrade to hot breakfasts and only had to pay the difference which was nice. Some of my family also had the dinner seafood platter for 2 (AU$123) one night and it fed 4 of them with some left over – and trust me they’re all big eaters!
5. Le Cafe du Village
Mr. Spittoon and I enjoyed 2 dinners here. The first one our lonesome where we were seated right on the wharf by the Sunset Cruise boat. It was so romantic! I nearly felt like I was sitting at some French bistro on a river in France. We went all out for this meal and ordered entrees, mains and shared a dessert and bottle of French sparkling. I can’t remember the price, but it was fairly decent after all that.
The highlight had to be these little Moroccan carrot filo rolls – they were absolutely scrumptious and when we went back the second time we had to order them again! The second time we went back with all the family I opted for the freshly grilled lobster for about AU$55 – totally delicious and wonderful with a glass of sparkling. Great service here to when we were in a large group and also when it was just the two of us. Good memories!
6. Lava Lounge
Lava Lounge is notorious with visitors because it’s a good spot with free WiFi that has fairly decent speed. We stopped into Lava Lounge on a number of occasions, sometimes just for a drink and spot of Facebooking and other times we ordered off the tapas menu.
I really enjoyed the fried coconut, banana chips and the garlic squid on the menu. They also had French brut and rose sparkling by the glass and bottle which was pretty decent. A bottle was about AU$40.
7. The Beach Bar
The Beach Bar in Mele (about 10kms out-of-town) is where we went the day after the wedding to hang out with everyone. By bus it’s 300 Vatu per person, so AU$3.70. It’s located on a nice beach that’s good for swimming and is just across from Hideaway Island (see below). It was a great place to hang out for the afternoon to enjoy some good drinks (cheaper cocktails than in town or at our resort), food and live music. It was a pretty warm afternoon when we were there so I was going for dips in the ocean every now and then which was nice.
My Tusker Beer battered fish’n’chips were pretty good and it’s also where I started my love affair with Tusker Lemon – a radler style 4% local beer.
8. Hideaway Island
We specifically went over to Hideaway Island to see the underwater post office. It has to be a definite must do on your activity list if you’re ever in Port Vila! It was so cool to see and swim through, plus the snorkelling around the island wasn’t a disappointment either. We were expecting the cafe on the island to be expensive however the prices were really decent! Beers were about AU$5 and our mighty huge and tasty steak sandwiches and chips were only $15. Probably the best value meal we had!
9. Chill Restaurant
One day while we were there the yellow submarine that’s docked at the Lava Lounge was having a half price day so we decided to do it! Neither Mr. Spittoon or I had been on a submarine before, so we thought at AU$62pp instead of AU$124pp that it was worth giving it a go! It was sadly a bit murky the day we went, it was still good, but it was the lunch at Chill Restaurant that followed which was the highlight of the day!
Chill is located right beside the Vila Outdoor Markets and I am so glad we went at lunch time as not only did we have an amazing view but they had some excellent lunch specials on which meant lunch was under $80. As soon as I sat down I ordered a bottle of wine (first things first right?) to only realise that all the lunch deals actually came with a glass of wine anyway. So we ended up having a bottle of wine, plus a glass of wine afterwards!
Mr. Spittoon had a pizza and I had the fish and chips – the fish was snapper and it was so divine, the breaded batter was awesome and the fish so flaky and lush. The chips were also amazingly good, so much so that I sat there until I finished them all, even though I was stuffed to the brim! Such a wonderful lunch with super friendly service and that view!
10. Vila Outdoor Market
If you want local food and an amazing deal then eating at the central outdoor market is a must! You won’t miss this spot with the rows of fresh fruit and veggies out the front and to the side is all the clothes and crafts. At the back is a number of small stalls that will serve you up a plate of food in a matter of minutes for 400 Vatu, AU$5. Below is the fish curry I had, not too bad either! I am not a huge fan of eating around fish bones but I have to admit the fish was so tender and tasty. Bargain meal!
Plus make sure you try the local raspberries, they are quite different to what we get here but are super delicious. The sweet potato chips in the snap lock bags at the front of the market are also really good!
11. Sunset Cruise
The day before the wedding, we invited all our wedding guests to join us on a 2 hour Sunset Cruise around Port Vila harbour and this has to be one of the highlights of the trip. It is literally a cruise, so no commentary or anything like that so you can sit back and relax. Our ticket provided us with 3 drinks – which you cash in for pegs that you are given upon boarding the ship. While the cruise is making its way around the harbour there are numerous finger foods going around. It’s nothing fancy but oh my gosh it sure was tasty! There were tuna & mayo, egg and asparagus sandwiches, cheese, crackers, dips – all great little bites to eat with our glasses of wine (Hardy’s) and local beers.
The cruise was AU$60pp which I think was a great deal and would definitely recommend doing it! For more information check out Red Vanuatu’s website.
12. Au Bon Marché
This is the main supermarket chain in Port Vila – so if you need any supplies, just jump in a bus (all the vans with ‘B’ on the number plate – they’ll take you anywhere within the city for 150 Vatu per person, AU$1.85) and ask to be taken to Au Bon Marché. They sell alcohol and all your typical supermarket supplies. We loved it for the Kiwi bits and pieces like Bluebird chips and also to buy beer and wine at cheaper prices than you would from the restaurants. It was also nice to have a few beers or bottles of wine in the room for afternoon drinks.
We did splash out on a couple of bottles of Pol Roger NV Champagne while we were there, which worked out to be about AU$87 – a touch more expensive than Dan Murphy’s price of about $77. For me the best bit of the supermarket was the bakery at Au Bon Marché Nambatu – we were picking up fresh baguettes for AU 75 cents!
13. Libation Trading Co – Wine Importer
We came across this little wine gem in our last few days of our stay which was a pity! They have a good selection of wine, beer, cider and spirits on offer to buy up. As it was near the end of our stay we didn’t go wild, but I couldn’t help but buy one of their Libation wine bottle coolers for AU$10 🙂
I am sure there are many more gems in Port Vila and surrounds however these are some of the ones we made it to and would definitely be places we would recommend all our friends and family to go to if they are in Vanuatu!