Fast cars and cava!
The local road rules make for some scarey driving. They permit drink driving and I don't think there is a speed limit over there. Be careful crossing the street and it's best not to look when being driven around - just hang on tight!! However we found it to be quite exciting and it gave us something to laugh about afterwards.
Don't be tempted to drink Cava. It is more of a drug than an alchohol. It apparently has a numbing effect and will put you to sleep for hours.Related to:
Beware of drug dealers!
Our taxi driver took us to this pretty little beach. While admiring the view we were approached by a man who offered to climb a coconut tree for a small fee...( for a photo ). It was supposedly to help raise money for the local school.
We politely declined his offer and walked off. Then he came up and offered us some drugs...well! it was back in the taxi for us!
Afterwards our driver told us he had seen the guy and had kept a watchful eye on us...so we had been safe enough. However it did put us off somewhat!Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
Malaria can be a problem in Vanuatu so it is a good idea to get some malaria tablets through your doctor before going. We were told to have the tablets two days before and two weeks after our trip also.
You will get bitten by mozzies, there is no doubt about it.
Also worth checking out is Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus & Diptheria vaccinations.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Bites, stings and other things
I came to very little harm in Vanuatu, but there does seem to be a lot of potential for Mother Nature to play mischief here.
As with all tropical destinations, mosquitoes are an annoyance. At best you will receive a couple of dozen itching bites in a week or so, at worst you could pick up something a lot nastier. The whole of the country is malarial all year round, so make sure you're taking medication and adequate precautions.
On my VERY FIRST STEP into the Pacific Ocean, I got stung by a jellyfish. Only a mild sting, but it shows they are pretty prevalent. I don't think there are any lethal jellies in Vanuatu, but take care. I was enjoying a leisurely swim when I happened upon a large school of them just in front of me. I avoided them, but that proves you have to be vigilant.
I took a swim on my own in Erakor lagoon once and upon my return a local told me that aggressive sharks have been known to frequent those waters. Shark attacks are extremely rare anywhere, but still it's best to avoid known risk areas.
There are a LOT of very big bugs around, some of which are poisonous. The picture in this chapter shows a spider I found in the garden at the place I was staying. For perspective, that little blob to the top-right of it is a NORMAL sized spider!
Take care in the waters around Port Vila and Iririki island, as there are a lot of sea urchins in the shallows. These are not dangerous but it's very painful if you get stung by one. I've experienced that, although not in Vanuatu.
Other natural dangers include snakes, stonefish, coral cuts and other tropical staples.
Big cyclones hit Vanuatu every few years and there are a few active volcanoes. If something like that happens, there's not much you can do to prevent it!
That's quite a long list, but don't let that put you off. I repeat, no harm came to me apart from mozzie bites and a mild jellyfish sting, and there's nothing here that you wouldn't find in more popular holiday destinations such as Australia, Thailand or Fiji, so don't let it put you off.
The kids...you'll fall in love with them...
The kids in Vanuatu are so cute! They are fairly shy though when they're younger. It would be a good idea to take something to give to the kids - we didn't think of it before leaving but we should have taken some lollipops, stickers, lollies or something for them.Related to:
- Family Travel
NO Tipping NO Bargaining PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No tipping or bargaining please, it goes against local tradition.
Please, just don't do it as it creates an obligation for the person to return to you. Which is virtually impossible if you're a leaving tourist . Therefore it would leave someone behind indepted to you which is not fair to do.
Malaria is an endemic in Vanuatu!
Malaria is present in Vanuatu.. not so much in Port Vila but around the islands, and it is very rural everywhere. Mosquitos are not too bad but it just depends on how easily you get bitten.
Malaria tablets are cheap and easy. Visit your doctor before you leave (around 4-6 weeks) and you can get a prescription for them . We took Doxycicline tablets, which are cheap and have little side effects.
The only bad thing about the tablets were that they make you really prone to sunburn. Even though we'd apply sunscreen three times a day we still got really really burnt. So stay in the shade and wear sensible clothing in the sun! They can also make your skin burn a little but it goes away and its very seldom.
Of course, all of this is better than getting Malaria!
Also take Aerogard or other insect repelants!
Medical Facilities - Insure yourself!
Make sure you have travel insurance that covers medical care when travelling in Vanuatu. I am a med student and went to Vila Central Hospital for a month for an elective - although the head doctors are from Australia (via AusAid), the facilities and level of care that can be provided are definitely those of a developing country. Those in Vanuatu with money travel to Noumea for their medical treatment, and it is easy to see why. They had run out of saline (a hospital basic - the fluid in the drip) before I arrived, and had to use some expired drugs. The wards are smelly, crowded and hot. Although they do the best they can with the limited resources and zero funding they have, make sure you will be flown home if serious illness should strike.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Diving and Snorkeling
The Sleaze factor: Sexual harrassment/assault
On a guided tour, I couldn't quite believe that our 55ish local guide was looking at my breasts, which were covered by a light button shirt and bathers underneath, which I considered appropriate and non-provocative....Even as he was talking about the plants, and with my husband right there!
Then, a little while later, more shocking, did he just grope me? It was so quick, I was dumbstruck. From then on, I kept my distance, enjoyed the tour, but happy to get back to the mainland and to our accommodation.
My husband and I agreed that it wasn't just him, as an old perv', but that there was a sexist traditional culture here, and Western women of any age ought to be conservative in their dress and be wary, without spoiling the best the culture had to offer.
I would like to return to Vanuatu, and experience other South Pacific Islands, but I will now keep a local police number in mobile/bag, even with my husband there, Superman that he is!
For un-attached women, out and about on your own: risky.Related to:
- Women's Travel
This is a comfort warning. Don't think you might be able to just pick something up from the shops, they probably won't have it! Or if they do it will be hideously expensive due to the high import taxes.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
- Luxury Travel
Hep A and and unwashed food
Get all your shots before you go! Vanuatu is a third world country and you find its very rural and people don't live in very clean conditions. There's livestock running everywhere in the villages amongst the friendly locals. They are so cute (especially the chickens) but you need to be careful and make sure you're immunised.
Also, eat only from trusted sources and peel veggies and fruit yourself. Unwashed foods or dirty vegetables is a great way to get Hep A.
You can get Hep A and B shots from your doctor before you go. Don't run the risk!
Medication + illness
Just a note that if you ARE heading off to the outer islands - or even prone to the odd stomach bug, it is really worth taking some gastro tablets.
For the outer islands - any small cuts can turn nasty quite easily and quickly. Flies are about, and as soon as they touch your skin... BAM! INFECTION! It is worth takign some antibiotics, lots of bandaids and insect repellent for the just in case. Hospitals in Vanuatu - well it's nearly worth just self diagnosing yourself! The trick is to just be careful about open cuts; stomach bugs are hard to avoid - even though hygiene is generally pretty good.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
There are no deadly spiders or snakes etc in Vanuatu but there are some non deadly ones...and BIG spiders at that!!!! I was a bit scared although our guide wasn't phased at all when this big spider crawled all over him...
Vanuatu is in the Malaria zone...
Vanuatu is in the Malaria zone so take care to inform yourself of the risks before you leave.
Port Vila is a low risk area but make sure to take insect repellent.It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to give you Malaria.
Vanuatu has some of the most accessible volcanoes in the world and while they are a spectacular sight especially at night it is wise to find out what level the volcanic activity is before venturing there. Remember that these are active volcanoes with molten lava flying into the air and what goes up must come down so be very watchful of children. I visited Yasur on Tanna Island when it was at the highest level before closure to tourists and while it was spectacular it was belching huge molten rocks the size of refrigerators into the air to the delights of the volcanologists in the group, it was a little scary. The walk to the rim is also not recommended for those in poor health or unfit.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
OK, I have to confess I didn't actually stay at this hotel, but I did spend some time strolling...more
Po Box 24, Efate, Efate, VU
My partner and I planned 2 weeks on Vanuatu from 29 June to 13 July. We had booked 2 resorts, the...more
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