Chilling out / Sweating it up in Vanuatu

Port Vila Travel Blog

 › entry 50 of 89 › view all entries
String band at airport

"What is Vanuatu?" and "Where is Vanuatu?" are two questions I get asked when I say I’ve been to Vanuatu.  To be honest with you, I’m still not quite sure what Vanuatu is (or what it means) other than that it is a nation of islands, formerly colonized by the French.  They speak Bislama (a form of pidgin English, though not intelligible like Hawaii pidgin), English, and French, and spend Vatu.  Even if I don’t get the chance to study a place in-depth (unless you count reading the airplane magazine blurb en route), language and currency are two facts I always pick up real fast.  Currency isn’t even really one because I’ve stopped trying to convert things back into the sinking dollar / the division can be too unwieldy.

Hideaway Island
  As for its location, Vanuatu is located somewhere in the South Pacific to the west of Fiji and north of New Caledonia.  Unfortunately, I’m not really sure where Fiji is located except that I know it is northeast of Sydney.  I think places like Fiji and Tahiti are islands people think are exotic but really have no idea where they are, kind of like Smurfland.

I ended up going to Vanuatu because there was a random special to go from Sydney.  Unfortunately, I had to remain in Sydney for about half of my intended trip due to b-school interviews, but still made it for a solid 3 full days and 2 in transit.  I stayed on a tiny island, Hideaway Island, off the main island, Efate.  It literally took 5 minutes to walk around Hideaway.
Welcome to Hideaway!


[This section was written while I was in Vanuatu.  Sorry for the tense change.] 

Hideaway Island only has one hotel / resort, the aptly named Hideaway Island Resort.  It's just really chill and quiet and everyone knows your name.  They also upgraded me to a single...I think because the resort was so quiet.  Sometimes I look around and think I should be lonely because I'm traveling alone but I actually feel quite fortunate to be traveling around the world on my own.  It's oddly empowering, although I always have to lie about my imaginary boyfriend who didn't come traveling with me.  Just like in South America, every male (of whatever age) seems to make it his business to know my relationship status.  Sometimes, I escalate it to husband and since it's my creation, I just start making shit up like he's a student, investment banker, ultimate fighter, professional acrobat.
Shhh...I'm concentrating...
  Everyone was pretty harmless, except the divemaster who kept caressing my butt on my night dive to "adjust my buoyancy" so I could take pictures...and it's hard to protest when you're 60 feet underwater and in the middle of a dark abyss.

If Vanuatu is any indication of my level of comfort with dark people (Melanesians look African to me), I'm in for quite a shocker when I go to Africa.  I think it's easy to say you're not racist or prejudice when you're not confronted by a whole population of darker-skinned people but I realize how much more guarded and apprehensive I am around Melanesians, even if they're all really nice and always wave and smile at you.  When we were touring around the island, we passed a few pickup trucks with Melanesians standing in the back and I half-expected them to be carrying machine guns and rifles like on every movie set in Africa.
...on the toilet!
  Anyways, it'll be a shocker when I get to Africa.

Speaking of diving, I managed to get in a few amazing and no-hassle dives on my first day (a matter of walking 100m to the dive shop on the beach and gearing up and jumping on a 5-minute boat ride).  Very different from the hassle of the Yongala dives in Northern Queensland, where I had to take a plane, a Greyhound, a 4x4, and hitch a ride back to Townsville). 

I also visited Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, which is really just a 1km busy street with garish resorts smattered about.  There was a cool fruit and vegetable market with things I've never seen before and like I am apt to do, tried as many foreign-looking things as possible (which I quickly sped-read about in the Lonely Planet at the airport).

Two themes for the rest of my Australasia travels emerged while in Vanuatu:
1) Crazy driving and the lack of seatbelts in the backseats
2) Crazily ravenous mosquitos that all wanted a little piece of sweet Nicole (why didn't I buy insect repellent earlier?)
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
String band at airport
String band at airport
Hideaway Island
Hideaway Island
Welcome to Hideaway!
Welcome to Hideaway!
Shhh...Im concentrating...
Shhh...I'm concentrating...
...on the toilet!
...on the toilet!
Westside Story dive - Nemo
Westside Story dive - Nemo
Big fish
Big fish
Moorish idol
Moorish idol
Cool coral
Cool coral
Cool coral
Cool coral
Me and nemos - tap that!
Me and nemos - tap that!
Me and nemo (I realize theyre cal…
Me and nemo (I realize they're ca…
Me and very territorial Nemo
Me and very territorial Nemo
Nemo telling me to check yoself …
Nemo telling me to "check yo'self…
Butterfly fish
Butterfly fish
Dive boat
Dive boat
Giant clam
Giant clam
Nemo at home!
Nemo at home!
Bonzer wreck dive
Bonzer wreck dive
Me saluting as I enter the ship
Me saluting as I enter the ship
Sailor time
Sailor time
Big fish
Big fish
Cool disappearing flower things
Cool disappearing flower things
Little mollusks
Little mollusks
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mark…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mar…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mark…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mar…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mark…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mar…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mark…
Port Vila fruit and vegetable mar…
Famous lap lap (usually taro or so…
Famous lap lap (usually taro or s…
Trash area - the trash inspector i…
Trash area - the trash inspector …
Lap lap aisle
Lap lap aisle
Tuluk, made with manioc flour and …
Tuluk, made with manioc flour and…
The worlds only underwater post o…
The world's only underwater post …
The worlds only underwater post o…
The world's only underwater post …
Actual post office
Actual post office
Me at sunset, pre-nightdive
Me at sunset, pre-nightdive
Sunset
Sunset
Explosive sea cucumber
Explosive sea cucumber
Big fish
Big fish
Poisonous lionfish
Poisonous lionfish
some sort of cucumber
some sort of cucumber
The extremely poisonous yet beauti…
The extremely poisonous yet beaut…
Regal nudibranch
Regal nudibranch
Lionfish
Lionfish
Sea squirt
Sea squirt
Nemo in bed
Nemo in bed
Sea snake or eel - I prefer to thi…
Sea snake or eel - I prefer to th…
Cool plant
Cool plant
Hermit crab
Hermit crab
Hermit crab
Hermit crab
Sea cucumber
Sea cucumber
Weird looking sea cucumber
Weird looking sea cucumber
Underneath anemone
Underneath anemone
Sea squirt
Sea squirt
Uncomfortable pufferfish
Uncomfortable pufferfish
Go long!  Hut, hut, hike!
Go long! Hut, hut, hike!
Pufferfish aglow!
Pufferfish aglow!
Me and the really annoyed pufferfi…
Me and the really annoyed pufferf…
Crab
Crab
Cool clam
Cool clam
Scorpion fish - look hard, you can…
Scorpion fish - look hard, you ca…
Cool plant
Cool plant
My room
My room
Hermit crabs in shells crawling ar…
Hermit crabs in shells crawling a…
Port Vila
photo by: alexchan