It’s difficult to fathom that it’s just a little longer to get to Vanuatu than it is to get to Melbourne. Vanuatu is literally paradise, less than 3 hours from Brisbane, only 2hours 45mins direct flight time away.
We arrived at Port Villa and transferred to our island resort, Erakor, which was only 20minutes drive and a 4-minute ferry ride from the airport. It was an actual, legitimate paradise. With a lovely, genuine welcome and island tour we were excited to find our family loft villa nestled into the side of the island. It was just what we were hoping for and only a few metres from the turquoise waters full of fish and coral. Bliss, and the perfect place to chill out and celebrate my birthday.
One quickly realises that Vanuatu runs on island time. Breakfast takes an hour, going anywhere takes a while – but that’s okay, as you too soon settle into island time. There’s not much point in wearing a watch or running to a schedule. Just relax and go with it.
Speaking of which, we chilled at Erakor Island Resort the majority of the time because it was just so beautiful and relaxing. We were mainly in or around the water and failing that at the restaurant (on the water) or sipping champagne on our balcony (next to the water).
We went into town once for dinner (hello crayfish) at Au Fare / Pizza Hot on the waterfront (many of the locals told us Reefers Rum Bar was great too). For dinner, we caught the ferry (it goes 24/7 – you just flash a torch to be picked up), and took a short taxi ride into town. We chose a lovely restaurant on the water where we could select our own crayfish from a cage still immersed in the water. Talk about fresh! When we got out, people were everywhere. Turns out it was the Port Villa Christmas carols – I really wish we had made it to the event. There were people everywhere and yummy-smelling food, it would have been cool to have been a part of something local like that.
The only other time we left the resort was to go on a half-day tour around the main island. The tour was fantastic- we visited the blue lagoon, local waterfalls and the turtle sanctuary and could happily have spent a day at each of them! What really made the tour though was our driver, Marius who was full of information about Vanuatu and the local way of life. He even treated us to visit his favorite Kava bar, to see the kava being made and enjoy a drink with him. Hilariously, they don’t like the taste of the kava, they just drink it to get the buzz so they can go play PlayStation and wash it down with sweet lollies.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I feel so grateful that my friends could join and we could experience Vanuatu and the wonderful people there together. We all can’t wait to go back and are working out what we can do to contribute to making Vanuatu a better place. At the moment this looks like sponsoring a child to go to school. There’s no free schooling and 11% of kids can’t afford to go. Another idea is bringing over some clothes donating and school supplies on our next trip.
It is paradise (be careful to pick your hotel, I think we lucked out) and is so close to Brisbane. I’d like to explore the island of Santo on my next trip.