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Port Vila for families

Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Republic of Vanuatu is a volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. First inhabited by Melanesian people, Europeans began to settle there in the late 18th century. In the 1880s, France and the United Kingdom claimed parts of the country, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for joint management through a British-French condominium known as the New Hebrides. An independence movement was established in the 1970s and the Republic of Vanuatu was created in 1980.

Vanuatu is a very popular holiday destination, whether you stay around Port Vila, the capital and largest city, or head off to the other islands. Wherever you decide to go you will experience a blend of tribal communities, resorts, beaches and geography ranging from accessible volcanoes to pristine underwater environments.

One of the best ways to get around is by renting a buggy from Buggy Fun Rental. They have jungle, beach or Port Vila journeys. You just hop into the driver's seat and follow the guide. Buggies for two and quad bikes for one are automatic and easy to drive. The company offers a free pick-up service around Port Vila, and you do need a driver's licence to rent a vehicle.

Beach tours run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8.30am and 1pm. The tours cover 50km of roads, small tracks and beaches. There is a shark and turtle feeding stop and then you head to Turtle Bay Beach for a swim and barbecue.

On Tuesday and Friday between 2pm and 4pm, the Port Vila Views tours explore 30km of small tracks and take in Port Vila's views. Light refreshments are also served. Jungle Safaris tours run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday between 2pm and 4.30pm. They cover 40km of bush track and roads, refreshments are served and you meet friendly villagers along the way.

Sail like pirates of the old days with Captain Harry aboard his schooner Cassiopeia. Two-hour swashbuckling tours or sunset cruises are fun for everyone. Get involved by hauling halyards, hoisting sails, trimming sheets or minding the helm.

Captain Harry gives a brief overview of the ship's history, including his "Ode to King Neptune" before you set sail across Vila Bay, with sails flying. There's pirate gear on board so you can dress for the part if you choose. Certainly, Captain Harry and his crew are dressed for the part!

You can call into Pango Beach to snorkel among the coral, swim or laze around the deck. Drinks and nibbles can be organised prior to setting off, and be ready to walk the plank when you return to port!

Poppy's on the Lagoon on the shores of Erakor Lagoon was designed to take full advantage of the cooling South Pacific trade winds. The waters are safe for swimming and water sports, and the gardens provide a colourful display of tropical plants. You're also only a 15-minute stroll away from Port Vila's town centre.

Poppy's has a choice of accommodation for all travellers. There are fully equipped two-bedroom Lagoon Suites and three-bedroom Beachfront and Lagoon View cottages, all with full kitchen facilities, private verandas and balconies. They are close to a family pool and sand beach.

Studios have views over the Erakor Lagoon; Garden View bungalows are close to the garden and pool; and Beachfront Spa bungalows have private spa jacuzzis at the water's edge. There are also larger one- and two-bedroom apartment Lagoon Suites, ideal for longer stays.

Beachfront or Lagoon View two-storey, three-bedroom cottages have master bedroom and ensuite, large kitchen, granite dining table, spacious living area and private veranda. Studios with one queen or two single beds, dining area and kitchenette have views and outdoor tables and chairs.

Garden View bungalows overlook the adults' pool in a quiet garden, and Beachfront Spa Bungalows overlook the tranquil lagoon. They have a spa jacuzzi.

Banana Leaf Cafe opens between 7.30am and 7.30pm every day. They serve full breakfasts all day, fresh fruit, hamburgers, grilled food and cool tropical drinks. Island Night barbecues, complete with local string band, are great fun. For a night out, there are restaurants and cafes within walking distance or a two-minute taxi ride away.


The Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean.


Talpacific Holidays has a package including seven nights' accommodation at Poppy's on the Lagoon in a two-bedroom Lagoon Suite, Buggy Safari tour, transfers and return economy airfares to Port Vila flying Pacific Blue. Also included are one tour and lunch in Port Vila, one 45-minute full body massage per adult and one Pacific hair-braiding per child.

Packages start at $1369 for adults and $579 for children, via Brisbane; $1399 for adults and $619 for children, via Sydney; and $1549 for adults and $759 for children, via Melbourne.

Available for sale until October 8, 2008 and for travel between October 14 and December 24, 2008 and January 29 and March 31, 2009. Conditions apply.

Sail like a pirate with Captain Harry for around $85 per person for two hours.

Prices correct at October 2, 2008.

For further information

Poppy's on the Lagoon
PO Box 920
Port Vila
Ph: +678 23425
Fax: +678 23425

Captain Harry
Ph: +678 47197
The Waterfront near Numba Wan Café

Talpacific Holidays
Ph: 1300 665 737

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