You won't be able to resist leaving Vanuatu with a suitcase chock-full of souvenirs.
Chaotic markets brimming with outstanding arts and crafts are the highlights of shopping in Vanuatu, but you can also find more modern stores and quirky souvenir opportunities (kava chocolate, anyone?).
If you're ready to spend some vatu but not sure where to start, check out this guide to shopping in Vanuatu.
Markets are a prime place to shop for food as well as souvenirs. The biggest markets are in Port Vila, but you will come across smaller versions throughout the islands, some with just a few stalls selling fresh local produce, shells and World War II memorabilia.
What can you find in markets?
Markets should be your first stop for locally-made, traditional handicrafts. You can find everything from carvings to traditional jewellery and bright, hand-dyed island clothing. Materials for these items range from coral and shells, to volcanic stone.
You will also find lots of luscious foodstuffs in the markets - look for freshly-harvested shellfish, French-style pastries and native-grown coffee in amongst the piles of exotic fruit and vegetables.
What should you know about shopping in markets in Vanuatu?
Almost all transactions in Vanuatu's markets are conducted in cash. Haggling isn't the done thing here - it's considered rude to ask for a reduced price, so if you think something is expensive, simply smile and move on.
Shops and stores
In Port Vila, Australian dollars are accepted, but in other places you will need local currency, preferably in cash.
Many businesses will close for a siesta between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. but banks, supermarkets and restaurants usually stay open between these hours. Most supermarkets and stores are either closed or have limited trading hours on Sundays.
What can you find in shops and stores?
You can find everything from French perfumes to local carvings in Vanuatu's more modern shops.
Au Bon Marche is a supermarket chain that carries a range of handy items such as books and camping gear. Outside of larger towns, you can still find general supplies, although selections may be limited.
It's illegal to buy alcohol in stores from noon on Saturday and all day Sunday, so stock up on Friday afternoon if you have a big weekend planned. Supermarkets are the cheapest places to buy beer and other drinks.
Shopping in Vanuatu by card
Credit cards, particularly MasterCard and Visa, are widely accepted in Port Vila, but you may find it nearly impossible to use your plastic in rural areas. A three to five per cent credit card fee is often charged on top of the purchase price.
Our favourite shopping destinations in Vanuatu
Port Vila has the largest range of goods, plus it's the only duty free port in Vanuatu. Port Vila's Markets and the Vanuatu Handicraft Markets are great places to shop for traditional crafts, while Hebrida Market Place is the spot to shop for hand-painted clothing and accessories such as woven bags. The Kava Emporium is a good stop for unique Vanuatu-flavoured souvenirs. Markets are open every day except Sunday.
On Luganville's Main Street you can find Mama Handicrafts, where you can browse an excellent selection of jewellery, weaving, carvings and more. The goods are all hand-made by local women. On the same street is LCM, a shopping centre where you can find supplies for your island adventures, such as snorkelling, fishing and camping gear.
To put the hop in shop, give us a call and we will help you plan your island-hopping-and-shopping holiday today!