A tropical holiday in Vanuatu offers underwater activities in a setting known throughout the world for its colourful, varied marine life. Apart from fresh, organically grown local produce, Vanuatu is home to fine French dining and an array of shops displaying cultural goods. Resorts ranging from family orientated to romantic are numerous and good value for money, making a tropical holiday an achievable dream.
Port Vila Markets and Souvenirs
Well known to cruise ship regulars, Port Vila, on the island of Efate, is a blend of on-going construction, souvenir shops and multicultural restaurants. On the harbour, an outdoor fruit and vegetable market gleams with rows of sugar-sweet bananas and smiling babies feasting on juicy mangoes.
Coral Reefs and Underwater Activities
Hidden under a turquoise lagoon and coined as the world’s only underwater post office, Hideaway Island’s quirky tourist attraction is a must see. Visitors and resort guests buy waterproof postcards and snorkel past fairytale coral gardens to the red post box under the sea.
Dive trips to sought after locations are on offer in all tour agencies. But, for non-divers, many resorts such as Erakor Island ( 678-229 83) and Iririki Island Resort and Spa (03-9696 0300) provide direct beach access to reefs where colourful starfish sit among bright coral and swarms of colourful fish.
Dining with a Taste of France
Due to past French settlers and apart from the language being commonly spoken, French food is available in abundance.
Villa Chaumieres (678-228 66), perched over the Second Lagoon, is a romantic, outdoor hut surrounded by a shallow pool which is home to tiny crabs and interesting fish species.
Set in a French Colonial house dripping with purple flowers, the Café Du Village (678-277 89) dishes up marinated lemon chicken and triple chocolate crepes among other options on a varied French and international menu.
Unique Shopping Opportunities with the Locals
Squeezed in between souvenir shops and cafes, The Market Place is a warren of undercover stalls in the main street of Port Vila. Sarongs, floral shirts and skirts are cheerfully sewn at the same time visitors shop, giving the market a vibrant, industrious feel.
The seamstresses sit on tiny stools in ‘Mother Hubbard’ dresses, originally introduced by missionaries wishing to hide women from the eyes of men. The simple shifts are brightly patterned and decorated with ribbons and puffed sleeves.
Resorts Catering to Everyone
Only three minutes by free ferry to Port Vila, Iririki Island Resort and Spa is covered in lush foliage, dotted with quaint wooden cabins and surrounded by a palm fringed lagoon. The sunset side of the resort offers modern lodgings with balcony spas to enjoy the view of the sun sinking into the ocean.
Le Meridien Port Vila Resort, Spa and Casino (678-220 40), Le Lagon Resort (678-223 13)and The Melanesian (678-221 50) all boast kids clubs, restaurants and on-site water activities.
Travel with the Locals
Boat and plane tours to outer islands for dive and volcano visits are accessible through most large resorts. While taxis are available in Port Vila, mini vans with a red capital ‘B’ on the number plate act as local buses. These are much cheaper and provide an inside look at local lives.
With an intriguing blend of cultures, new versus old and catering to tourists from every end of the market, a tropical holiday in Vanuatu stays with visitors long after the sun sets.