Vibrant Vanuatu! Yes, they've had a few knock backs from Cyclone Pam but these guys are well and truly fighting back.
A lot of the hoteliers turned the negative into a positive and took the opportunity to make a few updates on and around their properties. Whilst the roads could do with some spot repairs and filling in, Vanuatu is well on its way to becoming a tourist mecca once again. Workers are busy updating the waterfront area and locals are filling up the market place with lots of yummy local produce.
After a comfortable flight with Air Vanuatu and a completely safe landing on the newly sealed tarmac, we were greeted with songs smiles and gorgeous leis - not a bad start. Next stop Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa; it's just beautiful and on par with the Warwick standard. Families would thrive here as they are right on the waterfront providing heaps of water based activities for the kids, rainy days are no problem either as there is a covered in kids' area with tennis tables/play stations and more. Food was of a very high standard & something they pride themselves on. Many different room styles to choose from, each with a configuration to suit your needs.
Up the hill is Mangoes and The Terraces. The Terraces is very modern and sleek with all the furnishings and gadgets to match. Each of the rooms has its own plunge pool on the deck out the front of the rooms overlooking the lagoon. More suited to couples who are wanting to get away and just have a nice relaxing break and are happy pottering around the resort. Mangoes is like a little village on its own with block of units dispersed over the grounds just below/right next door to The Terraces. Some great room combinations here for the larger family groups.
Santo - here we come!
After a short 45min flight we arrived at one of the beautiful outer islands. Lots of passionate expats are looking after the resorts out here and are just as keen for the tourists to come and see what they have to offer. Champagne Beach and the Blue Hole are just a few of the absolute must do's and I guarantee you will not be disappointed - Champagne Beach will take your breath away!
There is accommodation to suit everyone's budget starting from the quaint Deco Stop - very authentic smaller property with an amazing view out over the water, right up to Beachfront Resort that has some great little snorkelling spots right out in front of the property. Aore Island is a short boat ride away and has some uniquely talented local women that perform for guests. Water Woman Music is a really special performance that will leave you amazed by the sounds they can produce from waist deep crystal clear water. Lots of history in Santo that the locals are only too happy to share as they take you around all the best snorkelling spots.
Back on the mainland - we had a brief stop at Poppy's on the Lagoon for a delicious breakfast; a great location right on the lagoon with plenty of water based activities, this would suit families and couples alike.
We spent the night at the centrally located Melanesian Hotel that offered spacious rooms more suited to couples or families for a short stay. There are a lot of stairs here so if a daily workout is what you're wanting - this is the place for you.
Mele Cascade waterfalls is worth the hike to witness the massive waterfall and neat little pools for a refreshing swim when you arrive (note: a degree of fitness is recommended). Changing rooms and sand floor cafe welcome you back for a much deserved refreshing drink afterwards.
I can't speak highly enough of the Beach Bar - this place was one of my highlights and that's not just because they had margarita slushys and the best wood fire pizza I've ever eaten!! Run by a Kiwi and an Aussie (hard to believe) these guys have always got something happening. Friday night fire show, Sunday sunset cruises, Tuesdays Movie & Pizza night... this place has a great atmosphere and well worth a visit or two.
Across the sandbar you'll find Hideaway Resort that offers some of the best (if not the best) snorkelling. Hideaway not only have a marine sanctuary directly out in front of them, they also have an underwater post office. Simply purchase you're postcard from the shop to let everyone know what a fabulous time you're having, dive into the water and post your postcard. It really is as simple as that! This is just one of the features of Hideaway Resort and you'll find a good blend of all sorts of people here from families to couples to day trippers.
If you're wanting a more secluded holiday that's not hours away from all the action, then look no further than Iririki Resort and Spa. A mere 2 minute boat ride across the harbour from the mainland, you will feel looked after from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. Starting with being chauffeur driven in brand new golf carts to your room, they really do make you feel like a VIP. Newly refurbished - this property is just waiting for you to come and take advantage of the wonderful food, friendly staff and beautifully appointed rooms. Feeling lucky, Iririki boasts a brand new casino called Jewel casino with an American roulette table and a blackjack table located within shallow beach water.
After a busy 4 days exploring in and around Vanuatu, I came away feeling positively excited and ready to help others share in some of the joy that is Vanuatu.