To tell you the truth, when I thought of Vanuatu I had envisioned just another tropical island destination with just white sand and crystal clear waters… how wrong I was, it was so much more than just that!!
Vanuatu exceeded all of my expectations, it had that (who doesn’t want white sand beaches and crystal clear waters on their holiday, it’s what we all sit at work and daydream of right?) and so much more. White sand beaches, turquoise water, coral reefs (some of the best diving in the world), tropical jungles, cascading rivers, stunning waterfalls, the bluest freshwater natural swimming holes you’ve ever laid eyes on, endless palm trees, tropical jungle, beautiful people and culture and the worlds most accessible active Volcano!
When I was asked if I wanted to be involved in a campaign for Vanuatu Tourism with 7 other influential and inspirational Australian photographers and filmmakers for 8 days, exploring and adventuring our way across 3 of the 83 islands of Vanuatu, I jumped at the chance...
The fact that Vanuatu is only a 2.5hr flight from Brisbane and a 3hr flight from Sydney makes this place even better, paradise is right on our doorstep.
Vanuatu doesn’t feel overly touristy, you can walk through the markets and local shops without being heckled, you can sit on a pristine beach for hours and only see a handful of other tourists. The fruit is some of the freshest and most flavoursome I’ve ever tasted (must be the volcanic soil) and I had the best steak I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Vanuatu left a lasting impression on me, I think it did on all of us. There is something about this place that leaves you wanting more. We only just scratched the surface of things to see and do in Vanuatu and i know we all said more than once that if there is anywhere we were going to book for a holiday it would be Vanuatu.
A massive thanks to Air Vanuatu for flying us all from both Sydney and Brisbane direct to Port Vila and back and flying us between Efate, Santo and Tanna Islands, the only way to island hop. The staff are super friendly, the food delicious and did i mention only a 3hr flight from Sydney and a 2.5hr flight from Brisbane!! So close! If you're planning a trip to Vanuatu i highly recommend flying with Air Vanuatu.
For more of Vanuatu and how my incredibly talented travel companions captured this truly amazing experience, click on their links below:
@melissafindley, @jewelszee, @matjoez, @haileybe, @robmulally, @itsworthashot and @tscharke.
Here’s what we got up to during our 8 days in paradise…
Efate ~ Port Villa
Iririki Island Resort & Spa
Located on a small island in Mele Bay in Port Vila, this resort is perfect for all kinds of holiday makers and suitable for any budget. With snorkelling right off the shore of the island, delicious food and views like no other, this is the place to stay if you want your own private island holiday.
Holiday Inn Resort
Also located in Port Vila, this resort caters for all kinds of holiday makers with a variety of different accommodation options. It has an amazing kids pool and kids club, beach front bures where you can laze the day away and hammocks to relax in under the palm trees. A perfect place to base yourself while you explore all that Efate has to offer.
~ Eden on the River ~
A 20 minute drive from Port Villa is the perfectly named Eden on the River. The 18 hectare property features a stunning crystal clear river which cascades past tropical jungle, with a 3mtr waterfall and deep pool at the end. I floated around in the clear waters on a blow up tube for over an hour, listening to the birds and the sound of the waterfall. This place was so unexpected and breathtakingly beautiful and well worth spending at least half a day here. The Eco Tourism property has more than just the river with a range of activities and tours including educational walks through the tropical gardens and fruit trees, cute animals to cuddle and a tour which takes you along suspension bridges across the stunning tropical riverscape. Check out their website in the link above to see what they’re all about.
Barrier Beach House
Located on the eastern side of Santo, Barrier Beach house is a hidden gem. A boutique resort with only a handful of fares located right on the beachfront, some with plunge pools, it feels like you are miles from anywhere. The coral reef right out the front is perfect for snorkelling, kayaking and paddle boarding... and the sunrises here are simply amazing. The food is divine, if you're a meat eater i highly recommend trying the Santo Beef... it is the best steak i've ever eaten in my life. I know where i'll be staying when i come back to Santo.
~ Millenium Cave Tour ~
Although we didn’t get to do the full Millenium Cave Tour, we were still lucky enough to experience some of it, we drove high into the hills of Santo where we were met by our local guides, we then trekked through tropical jungle, down canyons, across rivers with stunning waterfalls to the local village. This was only a small part of what you would experience if you did the full tour but it left us all pretty speechless. Make sure you click on the link above and check out the full tour, I cannot wait to go back to Vanuatu just to experience this.
~ Nanda Blue Hole ~
Nanda and Dual Blue Eco Pool is out of this world. It's a naturally formed fresh water swimming hole created from limestone and coral, surrounded by lush green jungle rainforest with volcanic gases bubbling up from the bottom of the natural pool, over 12 metres deep and the bluest and clearest fresh water you have ever seen. There are many of these naturally formed pools located on the island of Santo ready to explore, you will never want to leave, we certainly didn’t!
~ Champagne Beach ~
Santos largest beach is exactly what you envision when you think ‘tropical island’, it has the whitest sand and clear blue water you have ever seen. Surrounded by tropical green, palm trees and local beach huts it literally is paradise. It gets its name thanks to volcanic activity below the pristine water. It’s really gas escaping from volcanic rocks, and at low tide this gas becomes bubbles just like in fizzy champagne. We spent over 4 hours here and only saw two other tourists, relaxing is an understatement.
~ Santo Horse Adventures ~
The Santo Horse Sanctuary is situated at Lope Lope Adventure Lodge on the beautiful east coast of Espiritu Santo, where rescued horses live happily with their owner Megan. This is where you get to experience the real Santo by horseback. The experience is bliss, you find yourself riding through crystal clear freshwater creeks, through rainforest and onto the white sandy beach of Lope Lope and into the aqua water of the lagoon. I have so many favorite experiences in Vanuatu, but this was one of the best. I’m definitely coming back to do this again!
White Beach Ocean Resort
This has to be the prettiest resort i've ever stayed at in my life. Located on the coral fringed coast of Tanna Island, this resort has the cutest fares surrounded by the most beautiful gardens, palm trees everywhere and every colour bougainvillea you could ever imagine. The food is delicious, the sunsets stunning and they can organise any tour or activity you need to explore Tanna Island.
~ Black magic and kava tasting ~
We were driven by our local guides high into the highlands of Tanna Island to a local village, to experience the culture and rituals of Black Magic practiced by a Warrior Tribe. This tribe, who still live the way they have for hundreds of years, explain their practices and trickery which are still used today on rival villages. This experience touched our hearts in more ways than any of us could have ever expected. From the dancing, to the kids laughing, the kava tasting to the genuine love and community of this tribe. A must do if you’re visiting Vanuatu and Tanna Island.
~ Mt Yasur Volcano ~
Last but especially not least.. this has to be one of the top 3 experiences of my life. It’s going to be hard to describe it in words but I’ll do my best.
Mt Yasur Volcano is the worlds most accessible active volcano. Located on the opposite of the island to the airport and the main side of the island, about a 2hr drive through the highlands past local stalls and villagers happily waving as you drive past. The first view of the volcano takes your breath away, it’s something else to see the earth billowing smoke right in front of you. Driving across the ash plains felt like we were on another planet, past old lava fields still bright red from when they turned to rock. Once at the base of the Volcano you are treated to the local customs of the local village before being driven up the face of the volcano to within 100 metres of the rim. The last 100mtrs is a steep but fairly easy 10 minute walk. Standing at the top is hard to explain, I burst into tears I was so mixed with emotions, disbelief, happiness, excitement, I was just in awe of what I was seeing and feeling. Feeling the earth rumble beneath your feet, hearing the earth groaning as you stand there watching the explosions of lava spew from the belly of the earth only 50mtrs away from you is out of this world. We watched the sun set from the rim of the volcano and stayed into the early night as the stars came out and the red glow of the lava and ash clouds became brighter. We were all pretty speechless when we arrived back at the resort, it’s incredible to see the earth living and breathing like that. This one will stay with me forever.
Be sure to check out my full gallery of Vanuatu photos here > Vanuatu ~ Island Time.
If you have any questions whatsoever please feel free to pop them in the comments below, i'll happily tell you everything i know and we might just bump into each other in Vanuatu.. i know i'll be going back very soon.
Thankyou so much for following my Vanuatu journey! Until the next adventure...