Oyster Island, Espiritu Santo 12-2010

We spent 2.5 days at Oyster Island just off Santo island. It was a rude welcoming party of heavy rain that we had to endure including during the boat ride there.

Oyster Island allows you to be essentially sufficient there for food and entertainment including some beaches and a kayak ride through foliage (and spiders) to a beautiful blue hold.

Foodwise there's the option of outdoor dining and inside under a large wooden tent. From the name, there's obviously oysters on the island itself. The first night was kilpatrick which I'm never really a fan of anyway. But the second night I had them fresh and they were delicious. The problem is on the third day they were flavourless - I discovered it was because whoever had shucked them that day had washed them thoroughly in water. Idiotic.

Port Vila market 12-2010

As we walked through the Port Vila market, there were a lot of women standing around their stoves waiting for some business. I randomly selected a "big mama" who went off to the produce part of the market and brought back some steak. She cooked it for a while with vegetables and then served it on rice.

The flavour was deep and nice. The steak was very very cooked and so not overly tender. But she was so lovely. She only asked I seem to recall about 300 VT perhaps, and so I paid about 2-3x that to provide a tip. She could only smile and thank us.

A wonderful local experience.

Vila Chaumieres Restaurant, Port Vila 12-2010

I did a lot of online reading trying to find a good restaurant for the last night of an extremely memorable trip to the unexpected delight that is Vanuatu. Sure, not everything went smoothly or according to plan, but that certainly didn't discount the quality of the journey. The final day in Port Vila was quite quiet in that there wasn't anything specific to do, so we ended up doing a marathon spa-massage session. What better way to end it than an excellent meal.

I wanted somewhere walkable but in the end selected Vila Chaumieres which required a taxi to a beautiful setting overlooking a lagoon with the water so clear that small fish and starfish could be seen below. Watching the sunset here was magical.

I had read about the (controversial) dish of coconut crab and saved the moment for this meal.

Vila Chaumieres Famous Coconut Crab 5600VT was a dish of remarkable sweetness and excellence. I can't describe the flesh other than incredible.

Bea's Beef Wellington 3200VT tempted me with the specific name in the title and the organic Vanuatu beef fillet. It was nice but nothing particularly special.

What I should have gone for instead (and certainly toyed with the idea beforehand) was the lobster. Seeing the enormous lobster on others' tables made me envious. Even they couldn't believe how big it was. I'd have to estimate at least 1.5kg. Next time. 

I'd definitely be back if fate ever brings me back to Port Vila.

Unnamed restaurant, Port Vila 12-2010

I was only expecting a cheap final meal before going to the airport, in order to use up the last of the cash I had.

However walking past a sign that said "coconut crab" ended up being too difficult to ignore, given it may be the last opportunity in this lifetime. Of course having lobster too wasn't a difficult decision after spending was no longer limited to cash.

It wasn't as good as the crab from Vila Chaumieres and the lobster wasn't nearly as big, but it did just fine.

Tanna Evergreen Resort, Vanuatu 12-2010

One thing I definitely miss from Vanuatu is the available and affordable lobster and crab.

The resort in Tanna did a good job at offering lobster at only a marginally higher price than the other more regular dishes.

How can one resist? And obviously three times in a row I couldn't.

The brunches weren't too bad either.