Whatever you want from your island escape, Vanuatu has something for everyone. With an abundance of activities, whether on brilliant beaches, in the depths of the jungle or amongst authentic culture, it can be difficult to decide what to do first. Luckily Dani Stevens, the ultimate health, fitness and food motivator from www.danistevens.com, just finished exploring Vanuatu and has shared with us her favourite activities for travellers to explore.
Plunging into the Blue Lagoon
Vibrant blue waters surrounded with luscious green that amazes you at every turn is the best way to describe Vanuatu’s Blue Lagoon water hole, located just a 45-minute drive away from Port Vila. The Blue Lagoon is an amazing shade of blue unlike I’ve ever seen before and its calm waters seemed to be made to float, relax and renew in. Taking a plunge into the water on the rope swing is a must-do and definitely a good one for the whole family. We were bummed the kids weren’t with us as they would have absolutely loved it. With a small entrance fee, of roughly AUD$4, there really is no excuse not to visit this blue heaven.
Why drive or take a bus ride to Vanuatu’s blue holes when you can take an off the beaten track journey instead. From the mouth of the Riri River, canoe tours are offered in traditional island wooden outrigger canoes, that will take you through the lush jungle and fish filled waters towards the Blue Lagoon water hole. Accompanied by a local guide, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the incredibly peaceful ride. Be sure to pack some food for a picnic that you can enjoy while soaking in Vanuatu’s incredible views.
You can’t visit Efate without checking out Tranquillity Island resort, which runs the Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program. At the conservatory they take care of upwards 200 baby Hawksbill turtles. Hawksbill turtles are considered critically endangered and particularly vulnerable in the first year of their lives. The sanctuary is doing an awesome job and raises them until the age of one when the young turtles are then tagged and returned to the ocean. Seeing the newborn turtles was an amazing and touching experience and if you’re lucky you might even see a healthy turtle being released back in to the sea. You can even sponsor a turtle and donations at the conservatory are very much appreciated as they proudly run it voluntary.
Million Dollar Point
Million Dollar Point, located in Luganville, Espiritu Santo, is somewhere you will definitely want to visit whilst in Vanuatu, especially if you love diving as much as I do. The bay has the most beautiful, colourful fish I have ever seen and crystal clear waters that you have to see to believe. Million Dollar Point was named after the millions of dollars of war machinery that were dumped by the Americans in the sea at the end of World War II. You can dive through bulldozers, trucks and other army artillery, which will leave you speechless, while at the same time connecting you with a powerful past. It felt a little bit spooky down there at first, but overall it’s truly a remarkable experience.
Swimming with horses
Well away from the touristy hot spots we found our very own patch of paradise on the Private Island Ratua. The remote island charmed us with its simplicity, tropical setting and the very lovely people. Ratua truly is the ultimate place to relax, unwind and get back to nature – I absolutely loved it. Make the most out of this idyllic part of Vanuatu and swim with horses across the shallow beachfront waters, while riding into the sunrise – a phenomenal experience to say the least.
For more information visit www.ratua.com
Like the locals do
Live a day in the life of the locals and visit Port Vila’s lively market, which is centrally located and filled with all sorts of vibrant fresh produce. Once you reach the market, the friendly local women in their colourful island dresses will greet you, presenting their diverse produce. As everything is produced locally you are supporting the local community while you shop; win-win I would say. The market is open around the clock on all days of the week except Saturday afternoon and Sundays. On your way there make sure to stop and drink a delicious coconut on the side of the road – this always gives me a true feel for the islands tropical vibes.
Kava, kava, kava
Kava lounges are THE place to meet up and hangout in Vanuatu. Rooted deep in the Ni Vanuatu culture, they can be found all over the pacific island and are great for social gatherings – there are no strangers in a kava bar. Even though kava itself is a bit bitter and earthy, it is believed that it has all sorts of tremendous beneficial effects and is in particular renowned for its ability to help with managing day-to-day stress. The bars are open early in the afternoon on a daily basis and don’t close until the kava runs out.
Beautiful Aore Island is a short boat trip from the mainland and should be on every travellers bucket list. The island is the ideal base for exploring and experiencing the incredibly green landscape, starting off with a plantation tour. The tour takes you through Vanuatu’s luscious nature and if you’re feeling thirsty during the tour, just cut a vine and drink up some vine water while looking up at 200+ year old immense Banyan trees. The island experience doesn’t get more real than this!