As Jason Dundas discovered, Vanuatu is a wonderful blend of tribal communities, resorts, beaches with geography ranging from accessible volcanoes to pristine underwater environments. First stop for most visitors is the capital Port Vila as families are well taken care of.
Buggy Fun Rental
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. There is free pick-up around Port Vila, and you do need a driver's licence to rent one.
Beach tours run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8.30am and 1pm. They cover 50km of roads, small tracks and beaches with a shark and turtle feeding stop. Then you head to Turtle Bay Beach for a swim and barbecue.
On Tuesday and Friday between 2-4pm, the Port Vila Views tours explore 30km of small tracks and take in Port Vila's views. Light refreshments are served.
Jungle Safaris run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday between 2-4.30pm. They cover 40km of bush track and roads, refreshments are served and you meet friendly villagers along the way.
Captain Harry Cruises
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 amongst 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, Poppy's was designed to take full advantage of the cooling South Pacific trade winds. The waters are safe for swimming and water sports, and gardens provide a colourful display of tropical plants, and you're a 15-minute stroll to 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 verandahs 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 larger one- and two-bedroom apartment Lagoon Suites ideal for longer stays.
Beachfront or Lagoon View two-storey three-bedroom cottages have master bedrooms and ensuites, large kitchens, granite dining tables, spacious living area and private verandahs.
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 each day. They serve full breakfasts all day, fresh fruit, hamburgers, grills 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.
Buggy Fun Rental guided two-hour Jungle Safaris are $87 per person. They operate every day except Thursday and Sunday between 1.30pm and 4pm. They include pick-up, drop-off and local fruits.
Poppy's on the Lagoon has a special offer for Getaway viewers where guests stay seven nights and pay for five in a fully serviced luxury Lagoon View Studio for just $975 per person. For a family of four they have a seven-night holiday in a two-bedroom Lagoon Suite Apartment for $1500. Welcome drink and basket of coffee and biscuits are included, plus a 45-minute Melanesian Island massage or foot massage and pedicure or three days free personal nanny service. The nanny will accompany you on tours or stay at Poppy's while you take time out and relax. On sale now until October 2, 2009 for the first 100 callers only, and available for travel until March 31, 2010. Not available between December 23, 2009 and January 10, 2010.
Captain Harry half-day sailing and snorkelling trips costs $48, and full-days $85. Two hour sailing adventures are available for $36. Sunset sailling on Wednesday afternoons are $48 and include three drinks. "Sail like a Pirate Dress-Up Days" cost $36 and sail training courses are taught on Saturdays for $48.
Pacific Blue, international airline of Virgin Blue, has flights to Port Vila.
One-way fares from:
- Brisbane $249
- Sydney $269
- Melbourne $339
- Canberra $349
- Perth $459
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at June 11, 2009 and are subject to change.
For further information
58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street
Ph: 136 789
Buggy Fun Rental
Ph: 678 22775
Poppy's on the Lagoon
PO Box 920 Port Vila
Ph: +678 23425
Fax: +678 23425
The Waterfront near Numba Wan Café
Ph: +678 55 49980
Visas: Australians do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. An extension of up to four months in a one-year period is possible.
Electricity: 220-280V, 50Hz using Australian-style plugs.
Time zone: GMT +11.
Currency: The vatu.
International dialling code: +678.
It is recommended travellers to Vanuatu see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.welltogo.com.au or www.smartraveller.gov.au.