Vanuatu Travel Stories

Our trip to Vanuatu was a much needed escape from the Sydney treadmill. To me Sydney becomes more crowded, busier and more stressful every day. And as for the traffic…it can now take me ½ an hour to go the 3 KM’s I travel to work so a much needed escape for it was in order. We chose Vanuatu as it is close to Australia, just a 3.5 hour flight, and we haven’t explored the Pacific Islands much. We chose to stay on the main Island and not one of the outer resort Islands as I figured we’d both be bored in 5 minutes if we were stuck out on an Island for an entire week.

We stayed at the lovely Sunset Bungalows a delightful kids free resort close to the main town of Port Vila on the Island of Efate. Our Bungalow sat out over the water and we went to sleep every night with the sound of water lapping on the shore. Nightly cocktails were a hit all round and we generally enjoyed our stay at Sunset Bungalows. Our first day there found us standing on the side of the main (only?) road flagging down a bus to take us into the town and capital of the Islands Port Vila, or as the locals call it ‘the City’.

Port ViIla is quite small and a bit dusty although not without it’s charms. The fruit and vegetable market on the Main Street is a must, the stalls choked full of local produce and sold by happy friendly ladies in bright frocks. We also visited the Cultural centre which details the history of the Islands and its culture and shows some interesting film clips. It was also a great place to shelter from the sudden rain downpour that caught us out as we hiked up the hill to the centre. Lunch was at Chill who do a pretty good set price lunch and has a view to die for across the harbour to Iririki Island.

Vanuatu – Around the Island of Efate.

On day 3 we decided to take a little trip with Holiday Makers, owned and run by the delightful Letty. Now anyone who has read other posts on this blog will know I hate tours and usually have to be dragged kicking and screaming to participate in one. However we were convinced that it really was a good way to see the Island and that if we chose a local provider we would be putting money back into the community. So with gritted teeth I booked a day tour and hoped like hell we didn’t end up in a mini van full of people who should have never been given passports. As luck would have it we were the only ones on the tour so it was a private tour which was pretty good. First stop was the Blue Lagoon and morning tea. The Blue Lagoon is a picturesque spot popular for swimming with, as its name suggests, aqua blue water. It was a little cold for swimming but it was a pretty stop and I did enjoy the beautiful fresh fruit that we had for morning tea.

Next was a local village where the males of the tribe did a traditional a few traditional trailblazer dances and then showed us a huge straggler fig, the host tree long gone where they shelter from cyclones. I am in two minds about these sort of demonstrations which are clearly put on for tourists. While on one hand I do find the Culteral side of it interesting I also find it not quite real in this day and age. These guys do not go around dressed in loin clothes chanting tribal chants they do it to raise money for their families which I guess is no different to an actor performing on stage but for some reason me sitting watching these performances somehow just does not sit right. Perhaps it’s my inherent fear of being a ‘tourist’ and my dislike of participating in tourist type activities that makes me shy away, much preferring the real and the impromptu. However in saying all that if you want to see a bit of Island tribal dancing these guys were pretty good and in a environment which is ecoconomically tough I can’t blame them for trying to make a decent quid.

It was then back on the bus and off to a local school where the kids sang us a few very loud songs and the teacher explained to us how the government did not give them enough money to run the school properly. They had a wish list hanging on the wall of things they would like donated, high on that list was a lawn mower…surely the government can run to a lousy lawn mower.

We trundled off to have lunch in a picturesque spot on the water and sampled a spot of local cuisine. Yams, kumera and banana featured high on the menu along with a couple of curries and all in all it was quite tasty. From there it was a quick trip past an old WWII American air strip, and an old magnesium mine next stop a rather eccentric dreadlocked dude with a bit of a road side museum showcasing a collection of old coca-cola bottles and a few other bits of war ordinance his Grandfather had collected post WWII. I learned from this guy that around WWII all coca-cola bottles had the names of American towns and states on the bottom. Hats off to him for trying to make a bit of a living with his coca-cola bottle museum.

Last stop on our Around the Island Vanuatu was the gorgeous Havannah Bay. Named for the Havanna Bay in Cuba the bay is sheltered from the wind and very very pretty. It is also where one of the survivor series was filmed. I could have easily spent a day there just hanging on the beach and at the delightful palm thatched cafe but after a cup of team and a couple of biscuits we were off again and headed back to our hotel. We enjoyed our day with Letty and her Holiday Makers tours Trip a round Vanuatu (or actually the island of Efate) and highly recommend it.