My colleague Barbara has just got back from a holiday in Vanuatu and when we were talking about it, it seemed as though most things were pretty much as I had experienced back in April 1991. So I was inspired to share my photos after all.
Vanuatu is a great place for a holiday. It is only just over 3 hours flight from Auckland and offers a wide range of interesting things to do whether you want to just lie on the beach, to dive or snorkel, go fishing, paddle an outrigger canoe, visit markets, eat at a French restaurant, or go further afield to experience the Ni-Vanuatu culture.
Vanuatu has a very interesting history in that as well as the local people being Melanesian , it was ‘discovered’ by the Spanish, French and English. For most of last century it was called the New Hebrides and jointly governed by France and England – until its Independence in 1980.
The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and west of Fiji, that comprises about 80 islands. Of these, there are thirteen major islands, and nine home active volcanoes.
We visited 4 main islands (and a few of the smaller ones as well): Efate – where the capital Port Vila is; Espiritu Santo and nearby Maloa Island; and Tanna Island in the south (including its active volcano). I would have loved to have gone to Pentecost Island to see the traditional ‘bungy jumping’ but unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for us.
Efate Island and Port Vila
Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila isn’t shown on the map above but is in the bay on the bottom left just up from Iririki Island Resort. I remember a big market area on the waterfront and that it was good to avoid the area on the days that big cruise ships were in port because all the prices went up hugely.
We stayed at the lovely Erakor Island Resort, which is a small self contained resort on its own island in a lagoon just out of Port Vila. There is a ferry that operates 24 hrs a day on demand and there are regular local minibuses into town if you want more than what is on offer on the island. You can visit most of the resorts as a day visitor – Iririki Island is definitely worth a visit. We also spent a day on Hideaway Island and saw their cultural show. You can go on various fishing and snorkelling/dive trips out from Port Vila; or hire a car or take a minibus around the island (a good chance to practice your Pidgin English with the locals). The Cascades are a great place to cool off.
Espiritu Santo and Bokissa Island Resort
We also flew from Port Vila to the biggest island Espiritu Santo and spent a wonderful few days staying on Bokissa Island, a tiny island to the south east of the main island. The resort is all there on Bokissa and the hosts look after you wonderfully.
From Bokissa we had a (long) day trip to Espiritu Santo, driving right around the island and stopping at notable places like Champagne Beach, Million Dollar Point (where American soldiers dumped most of their equipment after World War II). and the SS President Coolidge (a shipwreck that is now a popular dive site).
On another informal day trip we went with one of the resort staff back to his home village on the nearby island of Maloa. We were very fortunate to be able to visit the school and say hello to the pupils, and to visit a local copra processing plant.
We also had a fascinating visit to Tanna Island at the south end of the archipelago, including climbing right to the top of Mt Yasur (an active volcano) and a visit to a traditional village.
For similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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