WHERE IS EFATE?
In the Pacific Ocean, above New Caledonia and West of Fiji.
Languages spoken are French, Bislama and English.
Ni-Vanuatu or Ni-Van is a term you will hear and is used to refer to the locals.
Just a short, less than 3 hour flight from Brisbane you fly directly into Port Vila, the capital of Efate, Vanuatu.
I’m not sure about everyone else but I found that the short flight was perfect for when you’re travelling with children. And not just anywhere…to paradise!!
‘The happiest place on earth’…
There is so much to do when you visit the island of Efate and if you get the chance – stay for at least 10 days. Whether it is for the cultural experience, family holiday or a romantic getaway. There is something for everyone, GUARANTEED!
SO MUCH TO DO
I thought I’d do a blog post on my TOP 5 things to do; which was extremely hard to narrow down. Some places I have visited myself with my family (we have been here twice now) and others that I had on my list and didn’t quite make it – no thanks to Cyclone Pam! But, I am determined to return within the next 2 years to complete my list of things to see and do on Efate.
This place like most of Efate is STUNNING. For a small fee you can go in and enjoy the crystal blue waters all day, which includes use of the BBQ areas. Pack a picnic, take your snorkeling gear and explore whats beneath the surface. You will discover the tropical fish that appear unbothered by your curiosity. You may even spot a turtle or two. And if you’re sense of adventure is waiting for something exciting, you will LOVE the rope swings scattered along the lagoon. Test your skills or watch the local children show you how it’s done.
UNDERWATER POST OFFICE
The ONLY underwater post office in the WORLD! You purchase waterproof postcards for $3.00 and dive down to post your card. Pretty cool, right? For more information on the underwater post office, click here. This was my TOP thing to do on Efate. But unfortunately due to Cyclone Pam the Hideaway Island was forced to close and we were actually evacuated the next day. For those who are wondering, YES we did make it out on time and what an experience it was for our first trip overseas. To read more about our first adventure to Vanuatu you can read that blog here.
VANUATU JUNGLE ZIPLINE
This is something everyone would like to experience. Take in the breathtaking views over the jungle as you fly through the air on Vanuatu’s famous zipline. There are a couple of tours daily and a couple of different tours to choose from so there is something for the beginner and the children or if you’re a little more game and adventurous there is a tour for you too. If you prefer to sit this one out there is a jungle walk available for you at no cost. This tour will be etched into you and your families memories forever.
DUGOUT CANOE RIDE
We experienced a dugout canoe ride in the Epule River. A dugout is a hollowed out tree trunk. As nervous as I was with an 8 month old baby on my lap I felt really safe and I really enjoyed the tour. Our canoe ‘driver’ and I’ll call him a driver because to be honest I’m really not sure what you would call them; an operator maybe?? Anyway, he was dressed in traditional grass skirt and body art, it was kind of magical. My main concerns was of what was beneath the surface; so I asked the question. ‘Are there any crocodiles or sharks in the water?’ To my surprise, apparently Vanuatu doesn’t have any of these dangerous creatures lurking in the waters…Nothing like where we live in Queensland, Australia. We were apart of the round island tour to experience this one but I’m sure if you ask the locals they will point you in the direction if you’re doing a self-guided tour. The locals are very friendly, accommodating and always happy to help.
Rated as one of Vanuatu’s most popular attractions Cascade Waterfalls just has to be on your list of things to see during your holiday in Vanuatu. Venture through Vanuatu’s largest village with a population of about 6000 residents to get to the base of Cascades. Appropriate footwear is recommended as there is a short walk and the rocks can get quite slippery. There is a small fee to access the waterfalls, however, if you do book through a tour agency to do a round island tour or half island tour the prices for your attractions is included in the price you pay for the tour.
If you’re like our family and choose to wing it most of the time, make sure you interact with the locals and get all the information you need about the attractions and fees. If you don’t have any tours booked and still wish to see any of these attractions you will find someone who will be more than happy to help.
To narrow our top 5 down was tough. There is so much to see on Efate. There are hot springs, WWII relics, great surfing, unforgettable fishing, and plenty of snorkelliing just to name a few. Or maybe you are interested in visiting the local schools and interacting with the ambitious children of Vanuatu.
The more you discover the more you will realize that you will be back again.
My favourite place to visit (yes, I’m letting you all in on my secret paradise and where my husband and I married) is Le Life Resort. Le Life Resort is on the north of the island and offers deluxe bungalows or for the people seeking the cultural experience they have glamping AKA Glamorous camping. For the day trippers they offer an amazing traditional lunch menu. You will absolutely love the staff, they are very welcoming and make you feel right at home. The bonus… the stunning views!
NOTE: You will pass Blue Lagoon, village schools and picturesque coconut farms so allow for some stops on your way there.
A MUST DO to fully capture a Vanuatu experience is to get involved with the village communities. In Vanuatu you can even stay with the locals. Book a couple of cultural experiences. And don’t forget to try some local Kava. Try finding a common bar where they use bottled water to prepare the Kava.
I also recommend keeping a few Vatu (local currency) on you so you can purchase locally made artifacts for souvenirs. Most is OK to bring back into Australia but just check the regulations relevant to your destination before you travel. In some markets you can purchase sealed souvenirs if you want to play it safe.
You will find that the Vanuatu way/culture is very special and the more you discover the more you will realise that you’ll be back again.