Tuesday 9th to Monday 15th October 2012
The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is located some 1,750 km east of Australia, 500 km north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji and south of the Solomon Islands.
Many of the islands of Vanuatu have been inhabited for thousands of years, the oldest archaeological evidence found dating to 2000 BC. In 1605, the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós became the first European to reach the islands, believing it to be part of Terra Australis. Europeans began settling the islands in the late 18th century, after British explorer James Cook visited the islands on his second voyage, and gave them the name New Hebrides.
In 1887, the islands began to be administered by a French-British naval commission. In 1906, the French and British agreed to an Anglo-French Condominium on the New Hebrides.
During World War II, the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo were used as allied military bases. In the 1960s, the ni-Vanuatu people started to press for self-governance and later independence; full sovereignty was finally granted by both European nations on July 30, 1980. It joined the UN in 1981, and the Non-Aligned Movement in 1983.
We choose to stay on Efate Island.
Efate is the main island of Vanuatu, where the capital Port Vila is situated and where the majority of commerce and tourism activities take place.
The island has a rugged coastline and rolling verdant countryside, fast flowing rivers, cascading waterfalls, isolated sandy bays and lagoons. The interior is verdant rain forest cut only by a few walking tracks to remote weather and radio beacons.
The capital Port Vila is located around a magnificent natural harbour offering stunning views of Iririki, Ifira islands, and a look out all the way to Malapoa Point.
Anabru Pacific Lodge
1 bedroom apartment with open plan kitchen/diner and lounge with small patios to rear and front. The flight from Nadi to Port Villa arrives 10 minute early and the apartment is 15 minutes taxi ride and a 10 minute bus ride to the centre of town. The staff are very welcoming and friendly and a huge bowl of fresh fruit awaits us as well as complimentary bottle of water. The people in general are very smiley and friendly, the island has a Caribbean feel.
Once we have checked in we take a 20 minutes walk into town to suss out the dive centres and decide to go with Nautilus Watersport because they offer free snorkelling. We shop at the market and supermarket, eat lunch at the market - fish which is cooked fresh and fairly good and very cheap. We then head back to the apartment, this time we catch a bus. We have an afternoon sleep and chill for the remainder of the afternoon. There are two Kiwi ladies staying in next door but one apartment, they are very friendly and we chat about things that they have done so far etc.
After a bad nights sleep for both us we are up early to be able to catch the bus and be at the dive centre for 7.30 and on the water by 7.50. There are 4 of us today, two Kiwis who are chatty nice people and the dive masters who are also both Kiwis.
We head out to Pango point which is the outer edge of the natural deep harbour of Port Villa. The first dive site is called Cathedral and is a cavern then a wall. Andy said visibility not good due to the sea mist and not a particularly interesting dive. I did not snorkel as there are too many currents as it is near to the reef with big waves. We then move to a shallower site near the reef and both Andy and I have a snorkel before they go off to dive. Water is chilly to start with but soon get used to it. There are lots of colourful fish and corals, great for getting my confidence back again. Until I come face to face with black & yellow banded coral sea snake, which are very poisonous. I give him a wide birth and he ignores me. Andy enjoyed his second dive as it was very pretty.
Back on dry land we head for the market to eat lunch, this time we have chicken satay which again is freshly cooked, very good and cheap. We check out the souvenir shops for t-shirts and sarongs and then head back to the apartment for some deserved r&r.
We both had a good nights sleep and slept in til about 9am.
E have a relaxing breakfast and then catch a bus to The Cascades(waterfalls) near Mele Beach. It is very busy as there is a P&O Cruise ship in the harbour today and this is one of their landside trips. The waterfalls are very pretty and offer cool pools to paddle and swim in on this hot day. E spend about 2 hours there and have lunch. We then walk to Mele beach, near Hideaway Islanndy sheltters under a tree.
Caught bus back to accom
Diving - Semle federson a wreck dive at 40metres - very interesting. I snorkelled on the reef
2nd dive was at Konanda Reef - very pretty with lots of colourful coral and fish. Andy also dived to the wreck of an aeroplane.
Lunch at the market
Back to accom and then at 5.30 we went back to Mele Beach for a Fire Dance evening. This was performed by a bunch of local youngster and as very entertaining. Set to music with fire dancing and fire blowing as a grand finale all the kids in the audience joined in with a dance. E enjoyed the evening very much and ere accompanied by the Kiwi ladies from our accom
Up late and relaxed breakfast
Caught bus to town, lunch at market. The walked to the war memorial with the hope of taking a good photo of the bay, but not good really. E then walked to Erakor Lagoon, which is to the left of the Port Villa harbour, here would could see the Holiday Inn resort with beach bungalows and watersports. We walked down to Poppy's on the lagoon resort for a waterside view , it was pleasant just sitting by the waters edge just watching the world go by. We caught a taxi back to our appt
I slept for a few hours as not feeling 100%. Relaxed evening with pasta and wine.
Diving for the last time, the sites were Twin Bommies and Konanda Wall, weather was a little overcast and windy.
First dive Andy was down for 1hour 30 mins and had a great time looking at fish communities and cuttle fish in particular. There was also a sea snake hanging around, which I saw when I was snorkelling too. Second dive was much the same, I didn't snorkel for very long today as the water felt colder and we were in deeper sites. There were some interesting people on the boat today, one who worked for an NGO in South East Asia and a couple who had been living in Vanuatu for the last 18 months due to go back to Aus at Christmas.
No market today so we had to make do with salad back at the apartment. This afternoon we just sat read and chilled.
Last day today, so we took our final bus journey into town for last minute shopping and walked back via the beach. Taxi to airport for 13.15 as the flight leaves at 16:10, it was delayed by 45 mins coming in from Sydney so we left an hour late. Port Villa to Brisbane is a 3hour flight so a meal and entertainment is provided, the meal was steamed fish with veg which was worth a mention as usually flight food is nothing to write home about. Brisbane to Cairns flight was delayed leaving so we eventually arrive at Midnight, luckily with an airport transfer bus waiting for us. So to bed in another country.