MAKE A QUICK PACIFIC GETAWAY
Maybe you visited on a cruise or your parents holidayed there, but chances are you’ve pegged Vanuatu as a flopand-drop destination without knowing all it has to offer.
And if your annual leave balance is reaching HR-alert levels but you can’t conceivably take a long break, the 3.5 hour flight from Sydney – only 2.5 hours from Brisbane – means you can touch down and wind down fast.
“Increasingly, Australians are looking for that quick getaway,” Vanuatu Tourism Office representative Georgia Gregerson says.
“We’re not taking as much leave and we want to have something that’s really easy.”
Post-Cyclone Pam (which hit the archipelago in 2015), resorts have been refurbished, new ones have opened and visitation is up 26 per cent.
“It definitely is for honeymooners who want to go to a beautiful resort but then also be able to get out and do things together … but in general, Vanuatu is just really amazing for people travelling in pairs because it does have a lot of boutique couplesonly resorts,” Gregerson says. CELESTE MITCHELL
Remember the Beach Boys’ lyrics, “we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow”? Well, this is your own Kokomo, 10 minutes from the centre of Port Vila. You’ll wake up to the view over the resort’s infinity pool and out to the private beach beyond your Beachfront Studio, which is more of a self-contained apartment with kitchen facilities. Stock up at the local markets for romantic meals in but don’t skip meals at the on-site Cafe Villa or the chance to cook your own cut of Vanuatu’s delicious organic beef at the communal barbecue. Grab a couple of kayaks and paddle across to Erakor Island and up Second Lagoon. If you’re more of a wave hunter, you’ll find a surf shop 10 minutes away where you can hire boards and suss out the best spots to surf.
Built into the cliffs of Erakor Lagoon, the Ramada Resort Port Vila opened in March, just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Port Vila. Here you’ll easily sink into the warm embrace of Vanuatu’s local lifestyle. Shop at the markets to fill the fridge in your love nest and head out for snorkelling trips, kayaking, horseriding, zip lining and more. Spacious Junior Suites include buffet breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi and if you’re keen to self-cater there’s a kitchenette with microwave, hotplates and a dishwasher. But if you want to leave it all up to someone else, sample the local restaurants downtown – and perhaps pop into a kava bar – otherwise, the on-site Akiriki Restaurant serves up Melanesian and Polynesianinspired eats with a French twist.
Tamanu on the Beach knows the recipe for romance: open-air bathrooms, freestanding tubs, mosquito nets surrounding the beds and a French Caribbean vibe. Reopened in November 2016 after a $3 million upgrade and renovation after damage sustained in Cyclone Pam, the original six rooms have multiplied into 15 private villas that will make you want to decorate when you get home. The jewel in the crown of your Beachfront Plunge Pool Villa is its namesake, with just mere sandy steps between your pool and the Pacific Ocean. The resort faces its own white sand beach, 20 minutes from Downtown Port Vila. Organic South Pacific fare is served with fine dining flourish in the on-site restaurant.