Part of why we love travel so much is the fact that it allows us, and our clients, endless opportunities to adventure to new places, try new things, experience new cultures and most importantly to step back and really enjoy life. These days with all the hustle and bustle of work, trying to stay active, being involved with the community and endless commitments with family, friends and children life can seem overwhelming. Which makes it easy to forget one of the most important things in our life which is ourselves and our overall health (both mentally and physically).
This is where vacations come in - they provide you with the opportunity to get away, to recharge and to focus on quality time with yourself and others. Our job is to find the destination and all of the details that will provide this for you, and to be able to do so we are constantly researching and vetting new destinations, resorts and experiences.
Most recently we traveled to the islands of Vanuatu and were blown away by this destination's raw beauty, heart warming culture and endless amounts of adventure.
Vanuatu is made up of a total of 83 islands, with the most popular for tourists being the islands of; Efate (where Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila is located) and Tanna which boasts the amazing fireworks of Mount Yasur Volcano and Santo, stunning beaches, fresh water swimming holes & world class diving. The other 31 islands each offer untouched nature & a rare glimpse into a simpler way of life (which for many of us is a much needed experience).
Located only a few hours from Australia, Vanuatu’s islands are the perfect place to visit as either a stand alone vacation or in a package vacation with destinations in Australia, New Zealand and/or Fiji. Especially if you are coming from North America we strongly suggest making the most of your time in the South Pacific and experiencing a few destinations to make the travel worth your while.
While in Vanuatu you will be able to experience everything from swimming in majestic blue waters, to standing at the edge of of a live volcano - and we assure you both are like sights you never thought you’d see.
You can also experience the culture of the islands, immerse yourself in their rich history and experience a glimpse into why they are some of the happiest people that we have ever met. Truly your heart will be filled with love and laughter within minutes of meeting these amazing people who are so willing to share their way of life with you.
Most importantly Vanuatu is a place that you can truly, and completely, unwind. In fact, we're pretty sure the definition of relaxation is based on life in these islands.
Here are some of the top experiences that we suggest (content in numbered list below has been written and provided by Vanuatu Tourism, www.discovervanuatu.com.au):
#1 Volcanic Adventures
Visit Mount Yasur, the most iconic landmark on the island of Tanna. Stand on the rim of the live volcano and witness up close and personal the fireworks phenomena with blazing entrails, shooting lava bombs and volcanic ash clouds. Take a scenic flight to Lopevi Island, the tallest peak in central Vanuatu with spectacular emerald forested slopes. Head further north to see Ambrym, included in the top ten for earth’s most active volcanoes. Seeing Ambrym’s boiling lakes of lava from the air is an experience not to be missed.
#2 Underwater Explorations
Vanuatu boasts world-class dive sites and an abundance of colourful coral with superb visibility.
Santo is home to SS President Coolidge, the largest and most accessible wreck dive in the world, jammed with the machinery of war and personal effects. Million Dollar Point where the US military dumped surplus equipment at the end of the conflict.
Around Efate, Hideaway Marine Sanctuary, numerous wrecks and a stunning outer reef are suitable for novice to advanced divers.
Diving untouched sites around Tanna is now also possible.
#3 Natural Swimming Holes
Some of Vanuatu’s most stunning natural wonders are the blue holes. These fresh water swimming holes formed out of the limestone landscape are filled with crystal clear, cobalt blue water and lively fish.
Some of the most beautiful blue holes including Nanda, Matevulu and Riri, are located on Santo. Discover these on a kayaking adventure up rivers running through lush tropical forests or easily access these on half day or day tours. Or take a round island drive to discover the Blue Lagoon blue hole on Efate.
Vanuatu’s landscape is littered with stunning waterfalls.
In Port Vila, you can discover Mele Cascades, one of Vanuatu’s most visited waterfall locations in the lush rainforest. Santo is home to the stunning Mount Hope Waterfall and Millennium Cave Waterfall. Or alternatively, in central Malekula take a picturesque walk to the majestic Losinwei Cascades. A stunning waterfall also awaits visitors to Nagol land diving festival on Pentecost Island.
An abundance of boutique, adults only accommodation makes Vanuatu the perfect place to be alone together with your loved one.
Simply exploring Vanuatu’s tropical landscape, savouring morning coffees and meeting locals will invigorate. Or rekindle the spark with beach picnics, cocktails and spa treatments. For more adventurous couples, diving, kayaking, swimming, sailing and trekking are all possible.
In Port Vila experience great restaurants, cafes and beach bars where you can enjoy cocktails with sand between your toes.
There is a rich and authentic culture waiting to be discovered just a few hours from Australia and New Zealand in Vanuatu.
Communities who have held onto their traditions reside in villages around the 83 islands of Vanuatu. Visiting or staying in custom villages will afford a rare glimpse into a very different way of life. Witness custom dances, traditional cooking and more.
So slow down, immerse yourself, make new friends and share laughter. You might just see the world in a different light and discover what matters most.
#7 Local Cuisine
With fresh organic produce in abundance, Vanuatu offers a delightful culinary experience. There are many restaurants and cafes in Port Vila with chefs creating delicious menus from the local fare. Markets in Port Vila and other towns are literally exploding with colourful, organic produce, for those who want to cook at home.
So eat as nature intended with fresh, natural, local food. Try seafood pulled straight from the ocean, fruits and vegetables grown in surrounding villages and the famous tender local beef.
#8 White Sand Beaches
Discover your own piece of paradise in Vanuatu where stunning white sandy beaches meet translucent blue water. As a nation of 83 islands, there are plenty of beaches to explore.
There are day trips for private picnic lunches, sailing trips to a secluded beaches for a BBQ, local beach bars or uncrowded secluded beaches where you can be alone to enjoy the incredible crystal clear water.
So slow down and be in the moment on any one of Vanuatu’s many stunning beaches.
#9 Festivals & Events
Vanuatu communities are regularly hosting celebrations to keep their rich traditions alive.
There are traditional events including the death defying Pentecost Island Land Diving, Ambrym’s Rom Dance and the colourful Tanna Toka Dance; as well as more modern events such as Fest Napuan and Fete de la Musique featuring local and international musicians. Visitors can also join active locals in the annual ocean swim or round island relay fun run.
Any one of these events will add a photogenic and fascinating element to your holiday.
#10 Land Diving
The Naghol land diving ritual on the island of Pentecost is famous worldwide and a must see.
The ritual, which influenced the invention of bungy jumping, sees local men and boys jump from 20-30 metre high manmade tower with only a vine attached to their legs. The awe-inspiring ceremony celebrates the yam harvest and is a fertility rite for men.
For a once in a lifetime experience, taking in a truly unique and authentic cultural phenomenon, travel to Pentecost Island between April and June to observe this authentic ritual.
You simply can't go wrong, no matter what you choose at this magical island destination. And if it were up to us we would tell you to experience it all because it will truly change your life and your perspective on what's really important.
Want a glimpse into what we experienced?
Check out this video (and keep an eye out for our very own Linda Gutekunst).