Van­u­atu an ad­ven­ture in par­adise

Adventure - - Gearguide -

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.

Photo by Joel Johns­son | @aes­thet­ics.of.ad­ven­ture

Pho­tos by @hen­ry_bry­don

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