The Vanuatu capital is a wonderful mix of cultures — as well as the island influence, you'll find all sorts of cuisine, from French and Italian to Chinese and Indian.
That means one thing: diverse, excellent dining.
Here are five eateries — and bars — worth a look, and here's a local phrase, in Bislama, that may come in handy: "Mi fulap" ("I am full").
Chantilly's is a Vanuatu institution and is known for having the best coffee on the island at its Tilly's restaurant.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant opens up on to a veranda with views of the harbour. Have a pre-dinner mojito or Pimm's cup at neighbouring beach bar Banyan, where you can sit on bean bags, a four-poster fare, or loungers right on the sand by the nightly bonfire, and listen to live music or watch fire-dancing. The bar itself was constructed from parts of the jetty destroyed by Cyclone Pam.
Menu picks: The market fish of the day, the creme brulee and the organic Vanuatu eye fillet.
Crystals at the Grand Hotel and Casino on the waterfront has an excellent lunch and dinner menu, but its Friday Curry Night is where it's at. For about $26 you get a choice of up to four curries, plus homemade roti, dahl, samosas, onion bhaji and pappadoms. Go for the butter chicken if it's on the menu. The outdoor bar area of Crystals overlooks Iririki, the harbour's pretty island resort, and the pool area. Start your evening — or finish it — with a cocktail poolside at the Grand.
For something a little more casual, a local recommended yachtie hangout Waterfront Bar and Grill, also overlooking the harbour and Iririki. With happy hour from 4pm-6pm, this is an ideal spot to enjoy a local brew (Tusker) while the sun goes down, then sample some of the freshest seafood you'll find anywhere. There's regular live music, a spacious dancefloor, and the service is fast and friendly.
Over at Mele Bay's Beach Bar you can enjoy one of the best attractions on Efate for free — its two-hour fire show on Friday nights from 7pm. A popular destination for cruise ship visitors, the bar overlooks picturesque Hideaway Island Resort and marine sanctuary, and serves casual food such as tasty burgers and woodfired pizzas. You can hire jetskis and there are regular free outdoor movies and live music.
5. Lava Lounge
Back on Port Vila's waterfront, you'll find Lava Lounge, an upmarket lounge bar less than a year old. There's a cool outdoor area on the jetty out the back, flanked by an ever-changing feature light wall. The venue opens up like a doll's house overlooking the water, and you can even borrow a towel and go for a swim. Also out back is a yellow submarine which is a tourist attraction in its own right. Lava Lounge is open from breakfast, with a tapas menu, Stonegrill dining, and live music late into the night.
Getting there: Air Vanuatu flies from Auckland to Port Vila on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It's also running a Tuesday service until October 5.
Further information: See vanuatutravel.info.