A Holiday in Vanuatu
Most of the holidays that we depart on are taken on with the spirit of adventure at the forefront. As the Wellington winter dragged on with continual rain and ceaseless wind, we opted to depart on what we expected to be a more leisurely holiday. Our plan was to soak up the rays of the sun in the Pacific Islands. Thanks in part to the testament of a guy at work who has visited on several occasions, and also our own research, we decided on Vanuatu. Not only is the island bathed in sun during the New Zealand Winter, but it had won the vote for "Happiest Nation in the World" in 2006. Well worth a visit, we thought.
As always, we managed to seek out a little bit more adventure that we'd expected to find. We arrived in the country immediately after the General Election, which happened to add a bit of political interest to the journey, but on top of this we managed to intrepidly abseil down a waterfall, dive into the world's only underwater post office and venture on a bush walk.
For those seeking a bit of background on Vanuatu, the country is inhabited by the "ni-Vanuatu", who were a tribal people who occasionally practiced in cannibalism after battles against other tribes; devouring enemy warriors with the aim of reviving their strength. As the European nations spread their Empires throughout the Southern Oceans, Vanuatu came to be ruled by a joint administration from the British and French Empires. This often led to disagreements between the British and French politicians in the islands over such contentious issues as which side of the road should be driven on. At this time, the islands were known as the New Hebrides. Vanuatu gained its independence from Europe in the early 1980s.
So, that's Vanuatu in a nutshell. Now for some photos...
varied photos from Vanuatu
Top Left: Hideaway Island, about 15 minutes from Vanuatu's Capital, Port Vila. On Hideaway Island, you can hire snorkels to inspect the coral reef (which is just offshore). Also, just under the waters not far out from the beach is the world's only under water post office. The post office is occasionally staffed, but only during the peak season. You can swim through the building though, and you can post underwater postcards to be sent on. The metal platform in the top left quarter of this photo is just above where the underwater post office is located.
Top Right: A local sea-turtle. You can feed these at the Bluewater Resort, a depressing place which was once the Island's foremost hotel, but is now a collection of derelict buildings and old hotel villas inhabited by locals. The only thing on site which appeared to be for tourists were the sea-turtles and shark feeding tanks, which seemed wholly out of place amongst the semi-derelict site.
Right: A complete contrast from the Bluewater Resort - this is a photo of our Hotel, Poppy's on the Lagoon. Our villa is the one on the right hand side. You come out of the door of the villa and you can see the water of the Erakor Lagoon - a very beautiful view.
Bottom Left: This is an example of the view from our villa. Palm trees, the Lagoon and just a kayak-paddle away, the other side of the lagoon. The lagoon was often frequented by locals who kayaked, or out-rigger canoed past either going out fishing or just heading out onto the lagoon for fun.
Bottom Right: Another picture back at the Bluewater Resort. God knows what this room used to be, but its easy to imagine that this was once a room where tourists from around the world ate, danced or whatevered their way through their "holiday of a lifetime".
The entrance to the colourful vegetable market in central Port Vila.
The market was brimming over with local produce - bananas, coconuts,
taro, raspberries and many more. The market provides a technicolour
experience with the bright flowers and colourful dress of the locals.
Top Right: Jen at the vegetable market. Locals mill around in the background buying and selling.
Left: A Coconut tree. Blue skies. A normal day in Vanuatu.
Bottom Left: We went on a few excursions on our time in Vanuatu. One of these was to Lelepa Island on a trip organised and run by the ni-Vanuatu residents of the Lelepa. One of the local laws in Vanuatu is that tourist businesses have to be run by ni-Vanuatu. This means that any money spent on excursions flows straight back to the local community. On Lelepa Island, there were golden sandy beaches and plenty of opportunities to go swimming and snorkeling.
Bottom Right: Another view from the beaches of Lelepa, out into the Pacific Ocean. A local canoe rests on the beach, ready to be used.
|Top Left: More
photos from Lelepa Island. Hammocks. What a great invention. Lie back
and have a good old fashioned kip, safe in the knowledge that the tree
cover will keep you pretty safe from a sunburn.
Top Right: A shop at one of the villages on Lelepa Island. Locals sit and watch, discussing the events of the day no doubt.
Right: This photo was taken from the doorstep of our villa at Poppy's on the Lagoon. Quite a view on a nice, sunny day. Palm trees, sunshine and the still waters of the lagoon.
Bottom Left: A view of some of the island from out near the waterfalls. Hideaway Island can be seen on the right hand side of the picture towards the middle. In the far distance, Port Vila is nestled amongst the hills but cannot quite be made out in this photo.
Bottom Right: A shack. The writing on the building is in the local language, Bislama. This is a type of Pidgin English where a significant number of the words are similar, very similar or even the same as in English, but a few words are completely different. For example, in Bislama "Ministri Blong Health" translates to "Ministry of Health" in English.
|Some photographs from
Mele Waterfalls where we abseiled
down the falls.
Left: Jen and Andy at at bottom of the falls having completed the abseil. Soaked through from head to toe, obviously, but after a very enjoyable time. The excursion began with a long walk up to the top of the falls - taking about half an hour - before being given a run down on how to abseil. After a few practises on a short section at the top of the falls, we started our descent - with the help of the Edge Adventures team, led by an Australian called Troy and assisted by a support team of locals.
Bottom Left: Jen and Andy going through the practise area having completed a short abseil down the short cliff in the background. We then had to walk up a small waterfall for another attempt at the this short tester.
Bottom Right: A view of the lower section of waterfalls on the way back to the entrance to the Mele Waterfall park. After the main section of waterfalls, the river continues downhill over lots and lots of smaller cascades, leaving some beautiful clear water pools between each section. Lovely.
A relaxing, but exciting holiday. Unfortunately, Andy came down with a bit of a stomach bug just as we were leaving, but other than that (and the fact the prices were a bit higher than we would have liked), it was a great place to go to. The locals were extremely friendly, always ready with an "Alo!" or "Goodnight!" when you walked past.