Tag Archives: Vanuatu Round Island Trip

Our Trip to Vanuatu

This post is 2 weeks overdue but finally I managed to finish it 🙂

Finally when we landed in Vanuatu I felt really happy. As soon as we got out of the plane, I could feel the humid air against my face. I knew we were going to have a great holiday at this place.

The airport looked very rural. No big walls or modern equipments. Just open fields with a one story building. It was Christmas day but there were no decorations. We lined up to clear immigration and picked up our bags to go to our hotel.

We caught a taxi to our resort. We realised while in the taxi that we should have changed some money to Vatu as the taxi driver informed us that he won’t take Aussie dollars. When we had done our research we had found on the internet forums that Aussie dollar was good but it was different story there. We told the driver we would try to change our money at the resort.  So when we got to the resort a guy came to take our luggage and we asked him if we can change some money. He asked to give him the money and was backed in 5 minutes with the equivalent Vatu. The bad thing was the exchange rate seemed less than the official rate. We paid the taxi driver and checked in. It was when we were checking in that we were told the rate which made us realised that the guy who had seemed to help us change our money has cheated us a bit with a lower rate. Just 5 bucks in Aussie dollars but a lesson learned, never trust anyone easily. We later found he had exchanged the money in a nearby store and we got a better rate there.

When we reached our room I was really happy as it looked comfortable and clean. Lots of flowers were used to decorate the bed. Like any tropical place, it had tiled floor to help keep the room cool. We then relaxed, took a shower and went to explore the place. They seemed to have a nice restaurant, a bar and a beautiful pool. When we got back to our room we were hungry so we ordered room service. While we waited for our food, we watched TV. I was surprised to see many Australian channels available. I felt like I was still in Australia.

It took a while for room service to arrive but when it did it was really yummy. As it was already evening we decided to relax and plan our next few days. There were many brochures we had to go through to choose our activities but most of them seemed similar like island getaway with snorkelling and lunch. We thought it would be fun to start with a round island tour so we went to the reception to book our first tour.

Our tour, the Native round island tour, was supposed to be the next morning but due to a miscommunication between the reception and the tour organisers it was pushed to the next day so we went to the Hideaway Island instead. The place was only 20 minutes bus ride and 5 minutes ferry ride from our resort.

Once we were there I realised why everyone had advised us to take reef shoe with us. Thank god that we did. It was a beautiful island with beautiful blue water but the beach had very coarse rubbles washed out from sea along with death corals. It was near impossible to walk bare foot on the beach.  It was a warm day so I change and jumped into the water. It was just beautiful. This is the place where there is an underwater post office. We put our snorkelling gears on and swam with the fishes. We first started near the shore to get a hang of the waves and later were taken further in into the sea. It was really beautiful with so many colourful fishes.

Compared to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia I found that the corals were dead and brown but there were a high number of fishes and sea animals like sea cucumber starfish and sea-horse. I even got to hold a star fish in my own hands. Thanks to my waterproof camera we managed to take lots of beautiful underwater shots.

Our guide had a great trick to invite fishes. He had a bottle with fish food so when he dropped these food, the fishes came in large numbers to him giving us a great opportunity to take photos and allowing us to be so close to them.

Finally after having lunch at the island, we came back to our resort. We ordered room service again and enjoyed our dinner in front of the TV.

The next day we went for the Round Island tour  which goes around Port Villa to see different villages and their culture. It was a really informative tour as the guide was a native himself and was able to show us the real life in Vanuatu.

That evening we went to the town to have a wonderful dinner in a restaurant call Chill. I had lamb with some mashed potatoes while AS ordered chicken and vegetables. We finished off with a huge chocolate soufflé.

The next day was AS’s birthday which was really a good day for me. I surprised him with a cake in the morning during breakfast and then we went Abseiling. That evening we went and had a Melanesian dinner while the locals performed some traditional dances for us. It rained that night for the first time while we were there.

The day before we left, we went and did the helmet dive. It was a great experience to be with fish and sea creatures up close and personal. It was only for a couple of hours so the rest of the day we just relaxed, visited the local markets and had lots of fun.

Over all, this holiday was awesome. Will love to go back there one day 🙂

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Vanuatu Round Island Trip: meeting the locals

On day two of our holiday in Vanuatu, we were recommended by the hotel staff to go for a round island trip with the native tour there and it was so worth the tour. 

The total population of Vanuatu is around 200,000 but 79% of people don’t have a job. They live in these villages where they grow their own food and catch fish for living. They don’t have a bed so they sleep on the floor and their house is merely a hut made out of local materials like leaves and the trunk of the coconut trees. There is no electricity and proper sanitation. They seem to be living with the basic minimal but each and every one of them seems to be happy. They all have this smile on their faces and they waved at us when we passed by them every time. Sometimes I wonder if these materialistic things we possess are making us happier or sadder but that will be a whole another post for later. 

During the round island trip we stopped at many villages. The first one was called Eton Village (named by the British of course) and it had one of the most beautiful beaches there. It has this magical place with white sands. The day was perfect for a quick swim and the water was just the right temperature. I am one of those tourists who love to take photos with the locals so after the swim, I asked one of the local ladies who was swimming there if it was ok for me to take photos with her kids. They were just so adorable and I have the photos to prove it. 

After the swim, we were served morning snacks which were fresh papayas, passion fruits, pineapples, fresh coconuts with orange juice and coconut Tim Tam. I ate heaps of coconuts as it was really yummy. 

Our guide Joel was quite an interesting man, as he kept saying; there is only one rule on the tour which is “NO RULE”. He explained to us what has happened to Vanuatu and its people since they got their independence from the British and the French in 1980. 

We stopped over to see the local friendly spider (according to Joel) and the oldest tree in Vanuatu. There were many more villages on the way that we passed through. While looking out the window of the van to these villages all I saw lots of smiles, kids were happily swimming in the waterfall, women were washing the clothes in the river and men were just relaxing by the rivers, a very simple life indeed. 

We stopped at a village called Epau for traditional Vanuatu dance. Joel had warned us that they would be wearing the traditional customs and would come running towards as if they were going attack us. The warning was really great because as soon as we got off there, they asked us to stand in a line facing the gate of the village and suddenly all these men in traditional customs came rushing towards whooping in their own language and brandishing bows and arrows and clubs and spears in a very threatening manner that without the warning I would have been very scared. 

As it was it was quite fun. They gave us hibiscus flowers to put behind our ear and we sat in the shade while they performed their traditional dances. It was really fun to watch that. We also had time to take photos with them.  Then we went to the stall to check the handicrafts they made there. We bought a really nicely carved walking stick. It was AS’s choice and he just loved it. The handle is like the head of an octopus and at the top of the stick is its two eyes and its tentacles are flowing down the stick grasping at an old man’s head with a flowing beard. 

Then it was a short drive to stop for lunch. It was a traditional Melanesian lunch (I am not sure if I could survive with that for a period as they have some distinct taste). They served rice, yam, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, beef curry, chicken curry, and carrot and dessert was papaya and coconut. They also served fresh lemon while a band was playing their songs. 

After lunch we had sometime to walk around and the view from the place was just beautiful with the white sandy beaches and blue-green sea. The blue sky added more to the already amazing view. We took lots of photos there and then we were back in the van. 

There were a few more stops to look at native plants and animals. One of them was to look at the Kava plant. The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anaesthetic properties and in proper quantity can even be a little hallucinogenic. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. It is a really famous cultural drink of the south pacific nations including Vanuatu. 

One of the stops worth mentioning during the trip was the stop for Coca-Cola bottle museum. It is not a real museum but a small tin hut. In there was man who has collected coke bottle for the last 30 years. He also has different types of beer bottles from around the world. I never knew that the glass coke bottles had year of manufacture along with the place it was manufactured stamped on the bottom of the bottles. The most fun part was that the man who owns it has a very distinct American accent. He was so into it that he could talk about it for half an hour without stopping. 

From there we were off to the hot springs. When the guide was telling us about the hot spring I was thinking it would be something similar to the one in Hanmer Springs in New Zealand which I really enjoyed and was so relaxed by. I was day dreaming of relaxing here as well but was so disappointed when we reached there. It was just a mud pool with hot water and seemed like no one maintained them as I could see lots of death insects in the water there. The guide was telling us that the water had healing capacity but I was not going to swim in that. I just soaked my feet and found that the water was really hot. Maybe from the next time I should imagine a little bit less. 

Then we were off to our last stop where the guide explained that the Survivor was shot, it was a beautiful beach. We swam and enjoyed the sunset while we were served tea/coffee and biscuit. I really enjoyed the day and it was getting hard to get in the van to go to our resort. One of the best experiences to see Vanuatu up-close was with native the guide. 

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