Pacific Islands: Eating your way around the South Pacific


To experience the real South Pacific, you need to get eating, writes chef Robert Oliver

The South Pacific conjures postcard-perfect images of white sandy beaches, cool pristine waters and friendly locals. And although Kiwis flock in droves to this mesmerising part of the world to indulge in all it has to offer, many don’t venture to town to taste the true essence of the Pacific – its food.

But you should – here are my favourite eateries in the Pacific’s urban centres, where you get truly authentic food.


Suva, Fiji’s capital, is the commercial hub of the country and region. Suva does not attract as many tourists as it should, but the city’s dynamic market is the heart and soul of the nation. Visiting the Suva Market on Saturday should be on your “to do” list. Here are my other favourite go-to places.

Tiko’s Floating Restaurant
On this permanently moored boat, you can dine on the best seafood in Fiji with a smattering of cool local favourites, like waci poki, taro leaves stuffed with baby river shrimp. Don’t forget to take advantage of an awesome (free) salad bar featuring ota (river fern). while enjoying the spectacular views of Suva’s harbour.

Eden Restaurant and Bistro
Sangeeta Maharaj is the Queen of Suva Hospitality and Eden’s fish curry rourou is heavenly.

Niu Grillz
One of the best in the country when it comes to barbecue and smoked meats, this local favourite is always trying something new. It also has a great pub-like atmosphere.

Cafe 30
They serve delicious kai. And if you’re keen on the traditional lovo (a banquet cooked in an earth oven) check their Facebook page for availability – it’s worth it.

My new Suva favourite. Open only for lunch, they serve seriously good authentic local food at the National Fitness Center. I absolutely love their fried fish with rourou (taro leaves) and vudi (plantain).

The Chef
Awesome traditional kai just a short cab ride from town in Nabua. A taste of the eggplant tavu is worth the trip alone.

Weta Cafe and Contain Yourself
Kick-ass (Kiwi) coffee from the Mobil service station right in town. Heaven.

A former French colony, Vanuatu’s cuisine has French influences paired with Melanesian classics such as the laplap and simboro. Here are my top places to eat in Port Vila.

Au Fare

A French restaurant that does awesome wood-fired pizza. The kitchen’s raw fish dishes and fresh lobsters are also delicious, and it’s all washed down with stunning views of Port Vila harbour.

Cafe du Village
This lovely spot delivers sublime French-Mediterranean dishes, but the fish and chips are extra yummy.

A 40-year Vanuatu institution, this restaurant is still alive and kicking. When you’re nestled in the cosy dining room, you’ll be transported to another world.

Mamas in the Market
Down the back of the Port Vila market, pop by for terrific traditional dishes and hilarious gossip with Vanuatu’s legendary Mamas.

Rose Elton
Another market must, if you visit on a Saturday, is to ask for Rose. She makes a fabulous local specialty, tuluk, which is Ni-Vanuatu’s version of a meat pie. Read more.