While we obviously do not advocate taking drugs in general, or on our tours, kava in the Pacific is a little different. A mildly intoxicating “drug” it was drank from coconut shells in the old days, but now from bowls, and gives you a bit of a buzz.
This is very much a cultural thing in many Pacific Islands, particularly in Vanuatu for example, where there are more Kava Bars than Beer Bars.
What is Kava?
What is Kava? For this I have decided to be all professional and go with Web MD, the greatest fun killer for all substances.
Kava is a beverage or extract made from the Piper methysticum plant. It is much more popular in the South Pacific than in the north and is used for all manor of ceremonies, but also as a way to essentially get a bit high.
What are the affects of Kava?
Its positive affects are actually numerous, being used to treat anxiety, sleeping problems and even with drawls from bento’s, or as you might know them stuff like Valium and Xanax.
Much like anything fun though it has been linked to cancers and death, which led it to be banned in Europe and Canada. Most countries have since unbanned it though, as in reality it is far less harmful than booze.
With that being though don’t drink and kava, or kava an operate heady machinery.
To diagnose yourself withs something check out the best paranoia website WebMD.
What does drinking kava taste like and feel like?
Kava tastes god damned awful, basically like dishwater, or water mixed with chalk, which is why it is chased with food, and, or water/booze. We get more onto how that happens and its nomenclature later.
As to the feeling, it is hard to explain, but mildly relaxing and chilling, rather than the dopey high from smoking weed for example. It is very unique and very light and you can do a night in the Kava bars without being too “kava drink”.
While famously used for ceremonies it has also evolved over the years. In Fiji it is very much a tourist thing, while if you go to Tuvalu people hardly touch the stuff. This is the same for Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where the weapon of choice is Khat – which we will give its own article to.
The best Kava scene we have found though was in Vanuatu.
How to drink Kava in Vanuatu?
Vanuatu speak a pidgin English that ill very strange to he ear is also quite cute and indeed mostly understandable. This means lot of the words for driving kava in Vanuatu will make some sense to us.
Kava Bars, of which there are literally tonnes and everywhere are called nackamals.
Much like bars these can be posh affairs, or hole in the wall types, they are also in every village too. They really do mimic classic bar culture.
You order by strength an unit of currency, so 50, or 100 for example and at the end of the nigh the pissing contest is how many you consumed, which is measured in shells. So like “I had 10 shells tonight”. This is based on coconut shells from which they were originally served. Nowadays you get bowl.
Now remember I told you how rank it tastes? This is where we get some great language, after drinking you have e a washemout, this can be water, but is often food, essentially Vanuatu street food that is sold for you to eat and take the rancid taste away.
Food varies depending on ho posh the place is, even chicken but can be noodles to potatoes and even chicken wings, or chips. No two place are the same, but all at least serve water.
And this is how people hang out in Pprt Vila, they consume their kava, with the sunset and hang out with their pals. We certainly enjoy this when we visit the south Pacific.
Want to join us for some kava? Check out our Least Visited Countries Tour..