The islands of the South Pacific are a wonder to get lost in a paradise vacation. They have fabulous beaches of white or black sand, humid forests, blue skies and that relaxed lifestyle that neither European occupation or exploitation has managed to change.
Today we will talk about Vanuatu, an island republic that knew how to be in the hands of France and England and today awaits us as an option to more popular destinations such as Bora Bora, Papetee or Tahiti. Do you dare to fly away?
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It is a volcanic archipelago that is about 1750 kilometers from Australia. If you know anything about the history of this part of the world, the settlers used to call it the New Hebrides. He starred in one of the last independence movements of the twentieth century because only in the '70s began to speak of colonial freedom and the current republic was founded in 1980.
He has not had what is said a quiet political life since that time and the forces of nature have not collaborated either, since between earthquakes and cyclones It has had a lot of damage that, in a country like this, has caused chaos. But it goes on, as it should be, so its natural beauties have oriented part of its economy towards tourism.
The archipelago has 83 islands, many of them furrowed with mountains and of volcanic origin. The capital is Port Vila, on the island of Éfaté although another important city is Luganville, on the island of Espiritu Santo. Despite the Anglo-French pact that administered it until then the official language is French.
Things to do in Vanuatu
The destinations to know can be concentrated in the islands of Éfaté and Espíritu Santo by making excursions around. Our activities will be basically outdoors and with local nature as the protagonist.
Our international flight leaves us in Port Vila and depending on the time we can go for a walk and eat in a restaurant a dish of local cuisine that is a tasty fusion of French and Asian cuisine. Among the recommended activities afterwards are the kayaking, The snorkeling excursions or something that I highly recommend that is a buggy ride.
You can travel the 30 kilometers of coastline by buggy to step on beach after beach and coastal villages. In many of them they offer those glass-floored boat trips, snorkeling, and scuba diving. What most tourism does is reach the Benjor beach, join an excursion in glass bottom kayaks and go where there are beautiful sea beds, dolphins and sea turtles. On the way back, if you do everything in the morning, you can have lunch at Benjor before returning in the buggy.
Just 10 minutes from Port Vila is the Hippique Club where you can sign up for one sunset horseback riding. A tour lasts two and a half hours, half a day or a full day, it depends on what you want to do, and you can even pay to be picked up and returned to the hotel. Another option is to go up to the mountain peaks that Port Vila has nearby and enjoy Vanuatu Jungle ZiplineSuspension bridges 80 meters high, waterfalls, jungle canopy, platforms built in the treetops and great views.
Are you more adventurous? Then there are more options: you can visit the ancient Malekula village, see an active volcano and dive with a dugong. Malampa is the name of the province where you can immerse yourself in the jungle, see waterfalls, learn about the history of cannibals, snorkeling in tropical lagoons and much more. It is a group of wonderful islands and to get to know them it is best to hire the excursions directly with Malampa Travel, the province's non-profit agency (with its own website).
Malekula is then one of the largest islands in Vanuatu, at least 30 languages are spoken, although broadly the towns are divided into Great Nambas and Small Nambas (named after the size of the aboriginal penis protectors, called nambas). The island is mountainous, with many forests and jungles and is a paradise to do trekking and bird watchings. You will be able to witness the daily life of the tribes, eat, dance.
And you can also go on excursions to marine reserves, rent a bike, bathe in waterfalls, walk between mountains, mangroves, caves or do cultural visits. The ideal is to stay a couple of nights and that is why you can sleep in bungalows in the jungle and on the coast or in lodges. You can also change the island, remember that it is a group of islands that make up the province.
Ambryn is a very volcanic island and black with active volcanoes and a hot caldera 12 kilometers in diameter ... AND Paama is the smallest islandIt hardly receives tourists and nobody lives in it due to its permanent volcanic activity, with fumaroles and lava, but even if it is to step on it for a couple of hours ...
Are there more destinations from Éfaté? Well yes, we can catch a flight to Holy to kayak on the Riri River and bathe in the famous Blue Hole, sunbathe at Champagne Beach and discover the Millennium Cave 50 meters high full of stalactites, stalagmites and bats. Luganville is the most important city in Santo and the place to hire these tours.
Where to stay in Vanuatu
There are multiple options: from luxury hotels to bungalows and backpacker cabins. The latter option is simple and inexpensive and is offered on the coast and in rural areas. The bungalows are made of local materials and are traditionally built. They are also located near squares, markets and are connected with tourism agencies and administered by local communities.
There are also the low cost accommodation: motels, hotels, lodges and guest houses with affordable prices. They are located in the central area of Port Vila or in the surroundings, at distances that can be done on foot. Also in Lungaville. And if you want to stay a bit from the noise you will also find cheap accommodation. For something more of a level you should go to medium-sized hotels with restaurants or breakfast service.
In Éfaté, Espiritu Santo or Tanna Island you will also find category accommodation with sea views, more personalized service, few rooms and spa, perhaps. And if you like resorts there are also villas on the beach, bungalows over the sea, luxury rooms, gardens, swimming pool and top restaurants.
How to get to Vanuatu
There five airlines linking Vanuatu to the world via Port Vila or Espiritu Santo. You can go from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Solomon or Noumea. There are large and low-cost airlines: Virgin, Solomon Airlines, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, Air Niugini, Air Caledonie, Air New Zealand.