Explore a holiday destination with a difference and visit the South Pacific
Christina Wylie explores an undiscovered holiday destination that combines tropical beauty with luxury in dreamy Vanuatu.
The Vanuatu archipelago may be something of a mission from Dubai, but that wouldn’t have stopped Ibn Battuta. And as a result, this tropical hideaway has retained a distinctly isolated feeling, making it ripe for adventurous holidaymakers to explore. With active volcanoes, cascading waterfalls and deep blue lagoons, this is a real slice of paradise. And, in terms of friendly locals, you don’t get much friendlier than the people in Vanuatu. Life is simple here and the pace is slow, which is reflected in the easy-going nature of the locals. It’s a mentality that can be pleasingly infectious – or incredibly irksome to the hardened city cynic.
Vanuatu has a very different feeling to destinations such as Thailand and Bali. For starters, there’s no seedy street culture that you tend to get in places like Phuket and Koh Samui. In fact, there’s little in the way of bars and nightclubs beyond those that are located within the resorts.
But there’s a lot on offer in Vanuatu in the way of excursions. The Cascade Waterfalls are definitely worth seeing. They are within easy reach of the main town, Port Vila. You can actually walk up under the waterfalls, so bring some waterproof shoes and expect to get wet. But it’s all worth it when you get to the top of the cascades and swim in the cool, natural plunge pools.
The Blue Lagoon is another nearby spot that’s also very accessible. Why the name Blue Lagoon? Well it really is very blue. Very. It’s a surprising oasis, the likes of which you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere, a patch of totally untouched natural beauty – the only sign of human intervention being a solitary rope swing tied to a tree for those wannabe Tarzans.
Alternatively, holidaymakers with a sense of adventure can take a trip up to Vanuatu’s active volcanoes. You can get there by four-wheel drive or by helicopter. Either way the trip allows you to see dense native bush, local villages and volcanic ash planes on the way to Yasur Volcano. Then you’re on foot. It takes over an hour to reach the summit where you can actually walk right up to the rim of the crater.
Another attraction within 20 minutes of Port Vila is Turtle Bay, which is home to five friendly sea turtles in an enclosed pool where, one at a time, people can hop in and have a swim with them. They’re curious little creatures and used to people. Definitely worth meeting!
Vanuatu is a beautiful haven with lots to do and see. If you are looking for a romantic break, for example JoJo Beach Club needs to be experienced. Opened in February last year, it is a step-up from the average beach club. It’s a totally private romantic escape which couples can enjoy for an afternoon in between their excursions and explorations. Nestled in a cove just 20 minutes from Port Vila, there’s a specially tailored Romantic Escape package which offers a honeymoon experience whether you’re newlywed or not.
There is also the Gallivanting Goddess Experience. This is the ultimate afternoon of fun and fashion for the ‘goddess’. It is pretty popular with brides-to-be, including what resort owner JoJo Vanuatu dubs ‘frock therapy’, relaxing massages, high tea, coral reefs and a chat in the hot tub.
Need to know
Getting there Quantas flies direct from Dubai to Sydney, Australia from Dhs7,500 return. www.qantas.com.
From Sydney (or Brisbane) you can taking a direct flight with Air Vanuatu to Port Vila from Dhs2,183 return. www.airvanuatu.com.
Where to stay Iriki Island Resort A private island experience. www.iririki.com