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I visited Vanuatu for 8 days in April 2016. Before I boarded the flight from Fiji, I had no idea about anything in Vanuatu. All I knew was that it’s a country in the Pacific islands, and that’s about it!
After arriving in Port Vila – the capital city – we took a shuttle to our lovely resort called Aquana Beach Resort, which is located just 20 minutes south of the city near a small village called Eratap.
Aquana Beach Resort hosted us for the entire trip, and I was very pleased with their excellent service. The staff at Aquana is so friendly, and they always made me feel at home. I was very happy with the clean & cozy rooms, the food in the restaurant, and the beautiful private beach! There is also great snorkeling alongside the beach area – and you are free to take a kayak/canoe and go explore on your own. If you visit Vanuatu, then I highly recommend a stay at Aquana 🙂
On a more serious note — Vanuatu was hit by one of the strongest cyclone (Cyclone Pam) in the country’s history about a year ago. As a result, many of the villages, schools, and infrastructures were destroyed by the devastating storm.
Upon visiting some schools in the villages near my resort, I witnessed some school buildings that were still in progress of rebuilding. The people of Vanuatu could really benefit from your support, so here is a link where you can donate.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t aware about anything related to Vanuatuan — from the culture, to the people, food or lifestyle. That being said, it wasn’t a difficult adjustment from Fijian culture (I had spent the week prior in Fiji).
My first impressions of Vanuatu (after our first day) were:
- Huge French influence
- Warm and tropical
- Laid back, not busy
- All-around similar feel to Fiji
- Undeveloped infrastructure (roads, buildings, etc)
- The locals enjoy the outdoors
As I slowly immersed myself into Vanuatuan culture, met some locals, and explored around town – I started to develop a love for this country.
Want to know more about Vanuatu? Read onwards!
So what exactly is Vanuatu?
You may have heard of Vanuatu because the reality TV show Survivor filmed a season there, or you may have heard about the biggest shipwreck dive in the world (Coolidge Ship from WWII).
But for those of you who have no idea what Vanuatu is, here are some quick facts:
- Vanuatu is located in the South Pacific Ocean, directly West of Fiji and North East of Australia.
- The country is made of 200K people and 82 tropical islands.
- There are 3 national languages: Bislama (native), English and French
- Vanuatu was a British and French colony until it gained independence in 1980 – and most people can speak both English and French.
- The most popular sports are Cricket and Rugby.
- The major sources of their income are from agriculture, fishing and tourism.
- It’s located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, meaning there are frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
- The traditional drink is Kava – which is made from the roots of a tree. You mix it with water and it tastes GROSS, but it makes you feel high and if you drink enough, then you can hallucinate.
- There is an abundance of sea life, which means good scuba diving and snorkeling!
The people of Vanuatu
Vanuatuan people are very friendly.
I went on numerous treks through villages and through off-streets of town, and I came across many kind-hearted people who were genuinely interested in getting to know me and why I was visiting their country.
One afternoon, I saw a bunch of kids hanging out in a park, so I joined them and spent about 2 hours with them. Almost all of them spoke great English, so we were able to share stories. I even learned how to play cricket with the youngsters!
What kind of Food can you find?
To be honest, I wasn’t too fond of the local foods. It mostly consisted of boney chicken, rice, vegetables and a mix of curry dishes. Most of the meals that I ate were “international” foods such as burgers, pasta, sandwiches, ice cream and more.
That being said, I recommend taking a trip to one of the local markets (in Port Vila) and you can see an abundance of fresh vegetables, seafood and more!
What activities can you do in Vanuatu?
Aside from lounging on the beach all day with a margarita in your hands, here are some more things that you can do around the country:
– Visit Tanna Island and see the world’s most accessible active volcano
– Play golf – Vanuatu country club is super nice and it’s along the beach!
– Trek through one of the villages and interact with the people
– Go scuba diving – you can pretty much go anywhere in the country, but the best shipwreck dive is off Santo island
– Visit the world’s only underwater post office – it’s so cool and there are fish everywhere!
– Take a submarine tour
– Drink some Vanuatu lemon beer – one of my favorites in the Pacific
– go into a village and try some kava – and see how strong it is!
– Be a volunteer in some of the schools located in some of the villages!
When is the best time to visit Vanuatu?
The peak season to visit, when they get the most sunshine, is May – September. If you visit from January – April, then you may encounter a lot of rain and wind.
However, there is never a bad time to visit because this country truly is paradise!
Where to Stay?
Thank you for reading my blog post about Vanuatu, and I hope you have the chance to visit! Please comment below with any questions you may have.