Purchasing from South Pacific indigenous villages


When visiting traditional villages or local markets you may be able to purchase locally made totem poles, wood figurines, bamboo flutes, stone axes, pig tusks and Pandanus leaf carry bags direct from the craftsman or his wife at better prices than is available from city art & crafts shops.You will find the villagers willing to bargain only if you are purchasing multiple items. In general, it is not customary to barter and may be considered rude if the item is already well priced.

TIP: Please do not purchase items containing shells. The purchase of these items only encourages the further destruction of the very marine environment you have come to expect in the South Pacific. Shells are an indispensable link in the ecosystem of all coral reefs and being eradicated at an alarming rate; the so-called ‘farmed shells’ sold in the First World are harvested from pristine reefs of the world (many from the Philippines). Many types of shells sold in markets and shops around South Pacific islands are now on the endangered list.
Please be advised that some items (feathers, pig tusks) may not be accepted on return by your countries of origin. Wooden items and basketware will be inspected at your final destination so please check items for borer holes and ensure no insects are hiding in basket ware.

Indigenous markets on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Indigenous markets on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Share this tip:

Written by Vanuatu Local
My wife Silvana and I live permanently at Rockwater Resort, on the southern island of Tanna, Vanuatu. Tanna means "earth" in Tannese. The home of cargo cults, the most accessible volcano in the world and traditional, peaceful people. It is an island of contrast, stark black volcanic sand and pure white coral sand beaches fusing into each other. Uncrowded surfing or ash boarding down a live volcano. Tanna has lush rainforests and fat cows grazing in a ecological haven. Some Tannese are gentle artists others tough pragmatic businessmen, yet all are superstitious, even the politicians, consult their sorcerers or "wise men" on important... Read more

Thoughts? Questions?

See also

Tours and activities

Amalfi Coast Tour (group tour)

The Amalfi Coast has much to offer, such as small shops selling local products like the renowned limoncello. It contains wonderful historic sites such as the Cathedral of Amalfi, and, most importantly, the dramatic coastal scenery that surrounds the area: cliffs and stunning waterscape.

3 Day Coast Backpacker Tour- Brighton & Seven Sisters

Our most backpacker-oriented and eccentric tour takes you through some of the familiar sights of English tourists but also some of the more alternative! Check out the hipster and left-wing scene in colourful seaside town Brighton, and then let us take you to some of the most breathtaking natural sights on the Jurassic Coast!