Vanuatu National museum, in Port Vila, is located near the australian Commissioner, in a very interestic pacific-style building.
It is not very big, but hosts many carvings, tamtams and masks.
Informations about traditional ceremonies and men' s secret societes are given in 3 languages (one being Bislama).
There are interesting sections about canoes (making of, traditional shapes and use, island travelling in ancient times) and World war II.
Definitely worth a visit, for a better knowledge of Vanuatu cultural heritage.
I suggest to have a look on the first day, to get useful information before starting your 'Island hopping' and better appreciate what you will see
For a unique experience travel to the mystical island of Ambrym from the capital Port Vila and be greeted by your transport to the village of Endu Pehakul where you will truely experience life in Vanuatu. Chief Mael Moses is the most hospitable man and will show you around his unspoilt natural village - its like stepping back in time. The locals will take you to some of the local sights such as the beautiful waterfall or for the more adventurous you can organise a trip to the twin volcanos (this involves a moderate fitness level due to the need to walk quite a distance) The locals will provide a traditional feast and magic show for your enjoyment. The spectacular Rom Dance is performed by chosen men who danced originally for celebrations and village events. Mystique surrounds the educational process to become a Rom dancer who go off to learn to make the mask and learn the specific dances. Flights to Ambrym are every few days so an over night stay in a traditional house will be required unless you have a group booking and can charter a same day flight. For the expereince of a lifetime contact Chief Mael Moses and arrange your visit to this beautiful island
If you get the chance then do the tour of Lelepa Island. Our tour guides for Lelepa Island were Albert and Brownie. Both guys were really helpful and looked after our group really well. We did some snorkelling, swimming, walked through the jungle, looked in caves, relaxed on the beach, visited a village etc. It really is a must see tour if you have a few days in Vanuatu...
Our two guides, picked us up, and we drove over the rainforest hills, about 35 minutes from Port Vila. There was only us that day, so we had the full attention of the older man and his young assistant.
We cruised out into the blue and green tropical landscape, stopping by caves which were used for hiding from warring tribes or cyclones. The guide lit candles along the path as we got deeper and I discovered a sense of claustrophobia I didn't know I had. Must be my age!
So we turned back casually, back in the boat, and came to a spot for snorkelling.
It was Pristine. A postcard dreaming......and we spent an hour following the abundance of colourful fish, and to our delight the little angel fish, made famous in Nemo animation.
For a mature-age snorkelling novice this was a fantastic introduction to snorkelling, and I knew it would be a must do wherever I went in the future.
On the ship there was always something happening, never a dull moment indeed. Kim and I just loved the dress-up nights, they were so much fun. And when there wasnt a dress-up night, it was always just as much fun getting all tarted up just to go down for tea!
This pic was on one of those dress-up nights - it was "Hula Night" and we had a ball!
Kim and I were soooooooooooo excited about our trip! We had saved long and hard, and even the plane trip up to Sydney from Melbourne to board the ship was exciting - our first time in Sydney. We did not know what was in store for us on the ship - but we just knew we were gonna have a good time! Little did I know I was gonna find a husband!
This is us about to board the ship in Sydney.
Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary is a small coral atoll that's about as close as you'll get to a Robinson Crusoe island escape in the South Pacific. To best enjoy this place, snorkelling is a must! We visited this place on our own, but to had to haggle with a cab driver to take us to this place and then to Cascades Waterfalls and cost us $150 for the entire day - from pick up at the port and back for the four of us (2 adults and our 2 boys-20 and 11).
This Melanesian style resort is the custodian of one of Vanuatu's only marine sanctuaries. Coral reefs ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving right from the shore are fantastic! The weather as usual was a stinker but as long as you are in the water, you're right, almost!
The taxi van took us first to Mele Bay where we rode a motorised boat to get to Hideaway Island. It was just a short trip, less than 15 minutes.
The most famous place in Luganville is its blue hole, the water being really blue, caused by limestones in the water according to our local guide.
The trip here was booked through our cruise ship's onshore excursion desk so all we needed to do was wait for our van to pick us up and take us there. It was part of the norther seaside and blue hole tour of the ship. It was pretty expensive but it was our first day ashore so we booked it as we didn't have much time to research about other options then.
Others on the ship went about Luganville on their own but we were just happy to do this one as the weather was really hot and humid that day. We were told during June and July the weather would be not as hot!
The blue hole is a good half an hour from the northern side of Luganville, and about one and a half hour from our embarkation point.
Being the largest such feature on Santo,the blue hole is about 50 metres across and 18 metres deep. On sunny days it does reflect the brightest azure colour you'll ever see, simply stunning!
The waters were quite cool so it was a welcome relief to the heat when we first gpt dropped off at the northern side. The roads leading here are quite bumpy and dusty but it was still worth it! Views of coconut trees and other flora and fauna of Vanuatu are also refreshing. It is amazing the locals have kept their environment pristine and clean, it is a testament to their love of nature which we should emulate!
Marketplaces are great in South Pacific islands in general, but they are especially good in Vanuatu.
If it's lunchtime, you will find little stalls where a lady will prepare excellent kaekae for you: rice and meat, lap-lap, fried bananas or manioca chips, roasted kumala potatoes. It is also the places for a coffe-and-milk with buttered bread.
Fruit is plentiful: paw-paw, grapefruit (GIANT grapefruits), delicious little bananas; all sorts of vegetables; livestocks and - yes - giant bats if that's your thing.
If souvenirs is what you're looking for, never mind the shops, go market! Wood and sandstone carvings, baskets (that is: bags), tshirts, lava-lava, necklaces, and so on....
Girls can get their hair beaded for 1500 vt (10 euros).
For a unique experience catch a bus to the Port Vila Market in down town Port Vila. Market days are Monday through to Saturday lunch time 24hours a day. Local organic produce is sold from tables by the local women and men and can range from fruits and vegetables to chickens goats and everything in between. The market is a regular meeting place for the locals from outer villages to catch up on news and is a rainbow of colours with the spectacular island dresses worn by the ladies and beautiful local flowers for sale. A short walk along the water front will bring you to the "Momma's Market" where clothing and souvenirs are available for purchase. Take some time to have a chat with the lovely local ladies who all have interesting stories to tell about life here. The essence of Vanuatu is the people so take some time to have a chat about life here with the locals and they in turn will be intersted in where you come from in the world.
The tour begins with a motel pick up and a half hours air conditioned bus ride past villiages and beautiful tropical surroundings to your dingi transfer to board the beautiful Coongoola. Morning tea is provided on board as you sail. First stop is the Turtle Sanctuary on Moso Island where if you wish you can sponcer a turtle and be sent information during its life cycle when it is seen by locals. Sailing on to beautiful Hapi Tok beach for either a swim or snorkle with a BBQ lunch. You can be as lazy or as active as you wish with two snorkling opportunites you can discover the beautiful coral reef and fish - the scenery is beautiful and the tour guides hospitality wonderful. The crew are only too happy to chat or explain any of the local customs such as Chief Roimata or point out any sea life that venture close to the ship. The sail home flanked by frolicing dolpins is certainly a day trip to remember.
Care for a little yesteryear adventure then Captain Harry's Pirate sail is for you. Sailing aboard the schooner "Cassiopeia" is a definite must - a great adventure for kids of all ages. Your enjoyable 2 hour or sunset cruise starts with a dingi transfer to this beautiful schooner and then you can either sit on deck or really get involved by hauling the halyards, hoisting the sails, trim the sheets or mind the helm. Harry will give you a brief overview of the ships history including his 'ode to King Neptune' then its off across Vila Bay with sails flying in the breeze. Dressing as a pirate is not a pre requisite but is certainly a lot of fun (all pirate gear is provided on board) Harry will encourage you to participate in all sailing activities and is only too happy to teach you or tell you all about his interesting world travels. Drinks and nibbles can be organised with Harry prior to setting off. Depending on your requirements you can call into Pango Beach for a snorkel on the magnificent coral, swim or just laze around deck and enjoy the ambiance of the ship. Captain Harry is a wonderful host and this sail is a wonderful way to see Port Vila from the sea.
If you have limited time to spend in Port Vila a trip to Mele Cascades is a must. A half hour bus ride or organised tour bus will take you past Mele Village (Vanuatu's largest) on to the breathtaking crystal clear waters of the blue pools and surrounding tropical gardens of the Mele Cascades. One of the traditional land owners from the village will meet you and take the admittance fee to be paid on arrival for upkeep and improvements to the area. You can sit by the pools enjoy the beautiful surroundings and fish or start your 15-20 minute trek to the base of the waterfall. Shoes are a must but note that you walk through shallow water pools on your walk. The walk is not extremely strenuous but has naturally made stairways so not for someone with a cardiac condition, unsteady on their feet or disabled. It is also not advisable to take the trip after heavy rain as the path will be extremely slippery. You will pass local children who attend to the village market garden on your way to the top. A digression off the track to the left will take you to a clearing with a breathtaking view overlooking Hideaway Island and the surrounding Mele Bay. The pools at the base of the waterfalls make a great place to cool off after your walk and you won't be disappointed with this unique experience.
We did a half day tour to Hideaway Island, which included transfers from Iririki Wharf to the island. Our guide, Alice, seemed to be a little stressed out, possibly due to the cruise ship which had docked that morning, dumping hordes of cabin-fevered tourists on Vanuatu. Naturally, some of them decided to do the tour.
Arriving on Hideaway Island, we waited for Alice to sort us out and give us instructions. We were pretty much left on our own to do whatever we wanted.
First, we wrote out some waterproof postcards, then snorkelled around the postbox and took pictures and posted the postcards.
We lazed about until it was time to go on the snorkelling safari, which was fantastic! We had two guides who took us to a coral garden a few kilometers away fromt he island. They took us on a snorkelling tour, pointing out various things. We didn't get any fish food because apparently it was killing the reef, but the guides did have some to attract the fishies for us.
It was a wonderful experience, very much worth doing.
We bought the Vanuatu & New Caledonia Travel Guide and decided to do the walking tour as a way of getting familiar with Port Vila.
It kinda sucked.
We couldn't find out starting point, Rossi's, because it had been demolished. We asked one of the locals where it was, who did to his credit direct us to the right spot, it just wasn't there! So we were a tad confused until we found out it had actually closed down.
From there, the directions weren't very clear either. This was partly because most streets don't have names/signs, but also the written directions just weren't very good.
We eventually figured it out, though, and it was an interesting walk (despite some of the other buildings also having been demolished!). Although some of the points of interest I wanted to see weren't included so that was disappointing. Personally, I think the tour needs to be re-written to include some actual interesting buildings of interest.
The lookouts were stunning though, the view from the WW2 memorial (near the Reserve Bank) is spectacular. Interestingly, too, a lot of construction work is goingon behind the Reserve Bank building - perhaps they're converting it to a hotel?
And the Australian High Commission stands out in a rather embarrassing way - it's the only fortified building in the city.
More Regions in Vanuatu