I was rowing a hand-carved kayak early in the morning, listening to the oar softly bubbling through the pristine Pacific water, tropical birds trilling in the trees, when a sea turtle – a metre wide or more – glided under the boat and took off, away from the shallow bay and further out into the ocean.
Turtles are just one of the locals to acquaint yourself with at Ratua Private Island, a luxury barefoot resort that prides itself on providing aworld-class experience without taking too much from the environment, and working alongside neighbouring tribal communities when sourcing foodand sustainable supplies for guests.
After flying from Port Vila to Espiritu Santo, a small motorboat takes you to the resort in 30 minutes. Forty antique Indonesian houses sit on the island, nestled among lush green surrounds, while an open dining room, lounge and bar, under soaring thatched roofs, is theisland’s social hub.
A remote island it may be, but you won’t run out of things to do to make you feel relaxed and re-energised. Activities include fishing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, horseback riding (about 20horses roam freely around a ranch on the island), snorkelling and kayaking.
Or just grab a book from the games room, take it back to your private beach deck and read while enjoying the cool ocean breezes. The food celebrates local organic ingredients and the island’s kitchen garden produces pineapples, coconuts and leafy greens.
The overwater spa is a sublime place to have a massage while taking in uninterrupted sea views. While you’re there, you may spot another local: adugong swimming by. – Louise Cheung #