Day 3: Lelepa Island - somewhere near Eden

Port Vila Travel Blog

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Morning snorkel at Hideaway Island

I spent my third day in Vanuatu on a day-tour to nearby Lelepa Island, so named because lepers back in the day were sent to live in isolation in a cave there.  We travelled around the island in a fishing boat driven by Moses and his sister-in-law, eighteen-year-old Matilda.  They both lived in the present-day village on the island. 

We started the tour with a short bush walk through the wilderness where Matilda explained to us the uses of various plants in nature.  Her English was not great but then again, she speaks more than two languages, which is more than I can say.

We then emerged from the forest on the other side of the tip of the island on a pristinely white beach.

Morning snorkel
  Like crazy beautiful.  Corona "change your latitude"-graphically-generated beaach.  We spent the late morning snorkelling and relaxing on hammocks set up by Moses, while he and Matilda prepared a delicious lunch of various barbecued meats and salad.  The whole set-up was idyllic �" there were only 4 tourists and a gorgeous beach. 

After a filling non-oatmeal lunch, the group went for a walk up the hill to see an old WWII airplane wreck, which looked like a heap of metal.  The hill opened up to an amazing view of the other side of the island with the reef exposed at low tide.

The walk was followed by a visit to the cave where the lepers went to live.  Moses went in before us to light the candles lining the way.

Morning snorkel - excellent water refractions
  There were handprint cave drawings created hundreds of years ago. 

The second snorkelling site was between the main island and a large rock.  The water was absolutely clear and Moses threw our lunch scraps into the water, bringing tons of fish to us.  The chicken bones weren't very popular.

The last part of the tour was afternoon tea in their village, which was really nice because it was not touristy at all.  We basically walked through their village to an aunt’s home (it’s hard to tell because everyone seemed related and everything was communal).  While snacking on coconut, we had the chance to buy some of their handicrafts. 

On the way to the village from the snorkelling spot, Moses gave me and the one male tourist fishing poles with big colourful lures to trawl through the water.

Morning snorkel - blue sea star
  I was kind of annoyed to have to hold the pole because it forced me to sit awkwardly sideways to try to enjoy the island scenery at the same time.  I was thinking how cool it would be if I caught something, but how I probably wouldn’t.  And when we were near their village, I felt a pull and started furiously trying to reel the line in.  The line seemed endless, and it got easier so I thought the fish had fallen off.  When I finally got to the end, there was a huge (trust me, it keeps getting bigger the more I tell the story) coral trout.  I proudly marched it into the village and presented it to one of the aunties.  I kept rubbing it into the other dude who didn’t catch anything.

It was an amazing day in a beautiful country.  On the way back to the main island, Moses took us down a small river (outside of the promised tour) and a little clearing where they had filmed one of the Survivors.

Morning snorkel - lavender coral
  It was cool to hang out for a day with locals, who are so laid back.  We got back 2 hours later than we were supposed to, which is pretty normal for “Vanuatu time,” also known as “Hawaii time,” “Puerto Rican time,” “CP time,” etc. 

That night, I splurged by having dinner at Hideaway’s restaurant run by the charismatic Chef Bruce.  I had a delicious steamed fresh poulet fish with lemon parsley butter sauce followed by an enormous slice of coconut cake and scoop of vanilla ice cream.  A fine ending to a fine day. 

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Morning snorkel at Hideaway Island
Morning snorkel at Hideaway Island
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel - excellent water …
Morning snorkel - excellent water…
Morning snorkel - blue sea star
Morning snorkel - blue sea star
Morning snorkel - lavender coral
Morning snorkel - lavender coral
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel - cool iridescentl…
Morning snorkel - cool iridescent…
Morning snorkel - school of barrac…
Morning snorkel - school of barra…
Morning snorkel - cool coral
Morning snorkel - cool coral
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel - Nemos
Morning snorkel - Nemos
Morning snorkel - big fish
Morning snorkel - big fish
Morning snorkel
Morning snorkel
En rouute to Lelepa Island - fishi…
En rouute to Lelepa Island - fish…
Our boat
Our boat
Bushwalk path
Bushwalk path
Absolutely pristine beach on north…
Absolutely pristine beach on nort…
Absolutely pristine beach on north…
Absolutely pristine beach on nort…
Nemo living near pristine beach
Nemo living near pristine beach
Beautiful coral
Beautiful coral
Pufferfish
Pufferfish
More Nemo
More Nemo
Love this beach.
Love this beach.
Uncomfortable hermit crab
Uncomfortable hermit crab
If I had a beer in the hand, Id b…
If I had a beer in the hand, I'd …
Non-oatmeal lunch!
Non-oatmeal lunch!
Our pristine beach en route to WWI…
Our pristine beach en route to WW…
Clear blue waters on other side of…
Clear blue waters on other side o…
Me on other side of island wishing…
Me on other side of island wishin…
Hut on our beach
Hut on our beach
Matilda entering the leper cave
Matilda entering the leper cave
Candle-lit cave
Candle-lit cave
Second snorkeling spot
Second snorkeling spot
Fish chowing down on bread
Fish chowing down on bread
A rather large fish
A rather large fish
Chicken bone was not popular
Chicken bone was not popular
A large diner
A large diner
Nemos are everywhere
Nemos are everywhere
Clam
Clam
Beautiful coral landscape
Beautiful coral landscape
Moses driving the boat
Moses driving the boat
Me and my catch! Holla!
Me and my catch! Holla!
Beautiful coral trout
Beautiful coral trout
Represent!
Represent!
Auntys home in village
Aunty's home in village
Fresh coconut snack. Yums!
Fresh coconut snack. Yums!
Me, Mosess daughter, and a random…
Me, Moses's daughter, and a rando…
The aptly named Hat Island near Le…
The aptly named Hat Island near L…
Me and Matilda
Me and Matilda
The river used by Survivors
The river used by Survivors
Tribal council area of Survivors
Tribal council area of Survivors
The once luxurious tribal council …
The once luxurious tribal council…
Where non-Survivors exited
Where non-Survivors exited
Sunset back at Hideaway Island
Sunset back at Hideaway Island
Delicious fresh poulet fish
Delicious fresh poulet fish
Humongous coconut cake and scoop o…
Humongous coconut cake and scoop …
Sunrise at the Efate airport
Sunrise at the Efate airport
Port Vila
photo by: alexchan