Catching a bus around the island is a great way to see the countryside and the difference in vegetation on different parts of the island. The bus cost us 10,000 VT and included a driver and a guide so there were four of us altogether. Working out a list of places to go in advance helps a fair bit, especially if there's a bit of a language barrier.
Kava is the supposedly hallucinogenic drink that locals drink every evening at their local "nakamal". It tastes awful, but not as bad as people lead you to believe. You do indeed need to down it in one gulp, if possible.
The Kava bar we went to was OK. We had our shells, but the bitter aftertaste of the kava made me want to wash my mouth out, alas there was no way to do so that I could see so I had to put up with it.
If I could pick a kava bar to go to, I'd probably go to the one we saw on the Lonely Planet Walking Tour, it looked nicer.
The bright red sails of the Meridian Charters boat tempted us into doing the sunset cruise. Because you gotta love a sunset cruise.
The captain, George, was a genial bloke, an ex-pat from Australia. At the beginning of the cruise we each received two pegs. After our first free drink, these pegs were to be exchanged for another free drink of beer, wine or softdrink.
We cruised up the harbour, taking in the waterfront mansions and the industrial area, and then around Iririki Island and into the sunset.
The lady assistant served snacks as we went, although there wasn't as much cheese as I would have liked. The resident guitarist, Ishmael, kept us entertained with a medley of mostly folk-type music.
After night fell, the "party lights" on the boat lit up and we returned back to the dock.
Iririki Island is small but hilly. It's pretty much all resort, although they're starting to do some strata development there (which is a bit of a worry but I guess that's what they call "progress").
We walked clockwise around the island, stopping at the Lagoon Pool at Snorkeller's Cove for a swim and drink at the swim-up cocktail bar (leaving when the hordes or screaming children arrived). We pondered snorkelling at Snorkeller's Cove but decided against it because we didn't like the look of the water.
We ended up going kayaking around the island, which was fun.
And we walked to the Manager's Residence at the top of the island, where the staff also have their own housing. Great view of the harbour!
Shopping in Port Vila can be fraught with disappointment if you don't find what you're looking for. Most of the items are imported and therefore not very cheap, and the quality is average. However, there are some nice things to be had - Hebrida Market Place stands out, as does The Drug Store. The outdoor arts and crafts markets are to be avoided, but the food market is good.
We did try some nangan nuts, I loved them but my partner found them a bit bland (didn't stop him from eating them though!).
The supermarket had some good buys too.
This is the ultimate in luxury. Pick a table by the pool and stay there, ordering cocktails and snacks, watching the sunset, watching the flares being lit up by some guy in a costume. It's aaalllllll good!
We did a half day tour to the waterfalls with Evergreen Tours. The tour was great. Sure, you could save a few dollars by just paying the entry fee, but our guide proved to be very interesting. Once I expressed an interest in the native plants of the area, he proceeded to point our practically every plant and in which way the locals use the plant, whether it's as a food source or as a toy. He pointed out things that I otherwise would have missed, took us to the lookout which overlooks Hideaway Island, and took us to the waterfall and waited while we had a swim and took photos of us with our cameras. Really nice guy and good value. We also had unexpected companions - his uncles two puppies came along for the walk, they were so cute!
I've seen some tips that say to bring along snorkelling gear - don't bother. Similarly, with regards to footwear, I'd recommend open sandals that you don't mind getting wet. As for our guide, he simply took his thongs off when we got to the wet bits and hid them in a bush.
After the walk they served us a nice fruit platter - great end to a fun walk.
I booked this tour on the P&O Cruise Boat.
A Wonderful tour that starts by driving through a local village. Just an amazing experience to see the local familes come together & live within each others huts. They share their money & toilet.
After the drive we stopped at a small hut to have some beautiful local fruit & drinks. A few locals played some hand made instruments which was very relaxing to hear.
After this we went on a short (medium grade) hike through a banana plantation, looking over a cliff with a beautiful outlook. We continued on to the waterfall which had a couple of different rock pools. You can just relax or swim in the beautiful cold water to cool down from the hot climate walk.
Mystery Island is a small Island off Vanuatu & a stop on the P&O Cruise Boat. A fantastic & beautiful small Island. We only had a short stay on the Island. Swimming & snorkelling are great to try here. The water is crystal clear & the beach is great.
You can walk around the Island in a short time or just releax on the fine sand & soak in the sun.
As far as I can tell, The Cascades is one of Port Vila's closest and most popular tourist attractions. It's basically a crystal blue river flowing down the side of mountain, with many waterfalls and pools. Most of the pools can be easily accessed for swimming. And a number of the waterfalls act as mini waterslides.
It costs 1000 Vatu to enter (about $13 AUS). It takes less than 15 minutes to walk from the bottom from the top, but you can easily spend a couple of hours if you take your time and head off the trail to the lookout etc.
Taxi drivers will charge 5000 Vatu (around $70 AUS) from any of the resorts to The Cascades and back. Outrageous!! You are far better off to take a bus for 100 Vatu ($1.30 AUS) each way.
These are amazing waterfalls in Vanuatu's main island , Efate. the tours take a few hours, you go for a long walk and then you get to this amazing forrest full of gorgeous trees and there are the waterfalls.. really beautiful..have not seen anything like it. you can swim too, the water is beautiful and really clean..
Drink some kava. It's a muddy (very) foul tasting drink made of extracts from the root of the
kava plant. Next to every male ni-van drinks it at least once a week; often every day.
It looks just like muddy water and smells like a newly moved lawn. The
effects are numbness, dizzyness, well-feeling. The effects are supposedly a bit like that of marihuana. You can have it at one of Port Vila's numerous nakamals.
Tanna Island is about a 50 minute flight south of Efate. It is definitely worth the visit if you can afford it...
The island is famous for it's live and very accessable volcano - Mt Yasur. But there are also many other things to see and do on Tanna Island...I would definitely recommend a 4WD tour around the island...you will see some fantastic villages and amazing people. :)
Efate is... pretty cool, but get off Efate and WOW! It's an awesome country!
To get out of the more touristy destinations - head to : Ambrym (volcanoes!) - just take your own water! - as part of the island is in drought at the moment (2005/06); Epi - beautiful island; Pentecost - amazing not just for the land diving; Malekula - French speaking! - but you can get away with some English. The costs to get to these outer islands are quite dear - maybe $70-$100 AU for a flight, but if you catch a boat it will be much cheaper and a really good experience.
Accommodation on the outer islands varies from Free if you get talking to locals - to $40 maybe a night if you have to pay. It really depends on your friendless, willingness to accept and share culture.
So if you really want the tropical island paradise - take 2 weeks in Vanuatu. Port Vila may seem nice, but get off Efate and you really have something amazing!
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Your bus will pick you up from your town hotel and you then head off around the Island. First stop is at a nice beach where you can go for a swim and look at the reef with all the colored fish. Then you stop for morning refreshments, freash jiuce and fruit all very nice,you will also have time for photos of the locals.
Then its back on the bus to Epule Village where you are taken on a traditional outrigger canoe ride up the river to the Village. At the Village you are greeted by traditional custom dancing and you have time to explore the village and buy some timber suvoners. This is a magical experience, so don't forget your camera! After here its of to another local village for a wonderfull lunch right on the beach, the food was freash and plenty of it. Then you glimpse more local life, small villages and beaches on yor way home here you pass Klems Hill Lookout which provides a superb view over Mele Bay, Hideaway Island and Port Vila town.
A very injoyable day out and a wonderfull insite into the local people.
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