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Vacay in Vanuatu

Published May 16th, 2014

Did you take advantage of the extra-long Easter and Anzac Day holiday break this year to go overseas? Student Flights Digital Marketing Manager Benedicte Bouchereau sure did. She took a 9-day vacay in beautiful Vanuatu in the South Pacific, making us all green with envy with her stunning pics of the clear blue water, unique treetop accommodation and just generally living it up in a tropical island paradise. Back to reality, Bene - how was the trip?

 

Bene mailing postcards at the underwater post office.

 

How was the flight over?
The South Pacific islands are really close to Australia so the great thing about picking Vanuatu was that it is only about 2.5 hours flying time from Brisbane to get to Efate or Espiritu Santo. We flew with Air Vanuatu, the local airline, and the staff were very friendly and helpful.

 

What were your expectations of Vanuatu?
We picked Vanuatu out of all the other popular South Pacific islands because we were after a good mix of adventure and relaxation.

 

What were your first impressions?
Instantly you know that you are in the typical island vibe. People walk slowly, they smile and they say hi to everyone they see. The locals, known as Ni-Vanuatu (Ni-Vans), wear flowery dresses and quite frequently we heard  reggae or zouk-like music while walking in the streets.

 

Riri Riri river blue swimming hole on Espiritu Santo

 

Did you plan your holiday or go with the flow?
We had planned to visit 3 islands out of the 83 that are part of Vanuatu. So we booked our domestic flights within Vanuatu in advance, which was one less worry. We did a bit of research about what were the popular things to do, but we only decided what we would do when we got there, depending on the weather and what the locals recommended.

 

Yasur View Lodge - treehouse dwellings on Tanna

 

Where did you stay and where did you go?
We landed in the capital, Port Vila (Efate Island), where we stayed 3 nights at a friend's place. Our friend drove us around the island and we went to all the beautiful touristy spots such as Mele Waterfalls and Hideaway Island. We then flew to Tanna island in the south of Vanuatu (a 30-minute flight) where we stayed in this cute little treehouse facing Mount Yasur Volcano. And finally, we flew to Espiritu Santo where we stayed in this friendly little motel, The Hibiscus. The motel owners (a Ni-Van and her French husband) were extremely friendly and organised all our tours during our stay.

 

What surprised you most about Vanuatu?
We were told that Ni-Vans are extremely friendly and smiley, which is absolutely true - this was very pleasant but not a big surprise given we had been told about their welcoming nature many times. The real surprise was the incredible colours! Between the clear waters, postcard-perfect beaches, freshwater blue swimming holes and the stunning green of the dense forest - it was incredible!

 

 

 

Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna

 

What were some of the highlights of your trip?
I can definitely highlight three favourites:
1. Sitting at the top of an active volcano in Tanna watching lava explosions was just unbelievable.
2. The beach at Port Olry (Espiritu Santo) was amazing.  Eating lobster facing the sea in this traditional village, with only a handful of tourists, was gold.
3. Posting a postcard underwater! Hideaway Island has an underwater post office attended by a diver postman every day!

 

Port Olry Beach on Espiritu Santo

 

How was the food?
The seafood is amazing in Vanuatu! A must-try is the coconut crab in a curry sauce - yum! Eating at local markets is a good option as well to experience local dishes and stay within budget.

 

What type of traveller is Vanuatu best suited for? 
Unless you are taking a cruise ship to Vanuatu, I wouldn't say it's a partying destination. Vanuatu is more about experiencing the culture, going on an adventure (volcanoes, trekking, canyoning or diving), or simply relaxing by the beach in one of the amazing resorts available there.

 

Would you recommend Vanuatu for a holiday?
Definitely, it's a destination I would travel to again. There is so much to do and it's also such a relaxing place!

 

 

 

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.