Vanuatu an adventure in paradise
We’re getting our minds blown over here. Seems that there’s more adventure to be had on Vanuatu than trying out a dicey daiquiri at the resort. Adventuring in paradise actually can be the volcano-summiting, blue-hole-diving, palm-tree-chillin’ cliché you’ve been yearning for. Santo, Tanna and Efate are 3 of the best adventure islands in Vanuatu – get ready – Joel’s about to re-write your bucket list.
What’s on your bucket list? We’ve all got one, whether written down or loosely formed in your head, constantly changing as we hear about new experiences. But how often do you really get to do that? How often in a year to you get to have ‘the experience of a lifetime’? What if I told you that there is a place where you can stare into the crater of an active volcano and climb a banyan tree the size of a soccer field – in the same day. Where culture, custom and magic are still a part of daily life and people speak over 100 languages, the highest linguistic density on the planet. Where, in addition to the best beaches in the Pacific, you also have a wild inland wilderness to explore, with caves, canyons and sparkling blue holes in the jungle. Where it’s 23-28 degrees – year-round. Which has been voted the happiest place on earth – twice. You’ve probably heard of it before – but you’ve never heard about the adventure potential of Vanuatu. And with 83 islands to explore, all with very different characters and environments, you could come back every winter of your life and still not see it all.
Efate Efate is the bustling hub of Vanuatu, the capital, and the landing point for most international travellers. But take the time to get out of the city of Port Vila and there are some amazing natural and cultural experiences accessible to all, whether you have an hour or a day. In fact, you can skip the city altogether and drive (or hire a driver) to take you around to the northern side of the island, where you get a boat to take you over to Pele or Nguna islands which are populated entirely by ni-Vanuatu people (and the odd adventurous westerner). Stay the night at one of the local bungalows, spend some time with the locals in the villages, hike up the extinct volcanic cones and snorkel in the pristine marine reserves – all within a half-day from the nation’s capital. If that doesn’t give you your fill of island hopping, hire a kayak or charter a trip on the traditional Polynesian vessel Okeanos. Close to Vila, you can cool off at the Mele Cascades or the blue lagoon, or jump on a mountain bike and cruise through the villages tucked away in the forests along the coasts and in the foothills. One of the best waterfalls on the island of Efate is Lololima Falls, which can be booked though Vanuatu Ecotours and is a 45min drive out of Port Vila on rough tracks. The multi-tiered, cascading waterfall features a cave underneath the main falls and a short section of canyon to explore. There are a multitude of hotels and resorts in the main town of Port Vila that provide a comfortable base for exploring the island as well as access to great restaurants. Make the time to go to the new handicraft market on the waterfront, which features an amazing array of products from all over the islands, and the main produce market to see the tropical fruits, flowers and food and have a chat with the local “mama’s”. While you can drive around the whole island in a few hours, making everything accessible within a day trip from the capital, you might also choose to stay at the quieter bungalows on the northern side of the island or on one of the smaller outer islands to really get amongst it. See more on Santo and Tanna in the next issue.