Vanuatu – Visit, Indulge and Play

Vanuatu – Visit, Indulge and Play

14/09/2018 0 By Gayle Dickson

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Words and images by Shane Boocock

Vanuatu is an Island nation located in the South Pacific about three hours from Auckland with a population of nearly 225,000 people. Efate is the main island of Vanuatu, where the capital, Port Vila, buzzes at the centre of Vanuatu’s tourist trade. This is a small cosmopolitan town with a pot-pourri mix of European, Chinese and Melanesian cultures. Port Vila is located around a magnificent natural harbour offering stunning outer island views. Vanuatu, in 2015, has had a particularly trying year in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam in March. The storm destroyed many structures on many of their islands, however, The Grand Hotel & Casino in Port Vila did not receive as much significant damage as many other hotels and resorts from the cyclone and as such it was one of the first places to reopen for business.

The Grand Hotel and Casino is located just 10 minutes from the airport and in the heart of this port city, where there’s an abundance of restaurants and nightspots. There are also a number of great attractions and some outstanding tours to choose from both on Efate and in and around the other islands – in some cases you can book them on arrival and be visiting them the following day. With six levels, the 74-room Grand Hotel is the tallest building in Vanuatu, and overlooks the spectacular harbour of Port Vila. Guests have a choice of four room types to stay in: Harbour View, Panorama Suite, Harbour Suite or Penthouse Suite.

Each room has floor to ceiling windows, private balcony, marble bathrooms, and free Wifi. The hotel also has a wide variety of options to dine in such as the Crystal Restaurant, Hemisphere Lounge  & Bar, Lobby Lounge Café and Pool Café as well as 24-hour room service. The hotel boasts a prime waterfront location central to Port Vila’s business and entertainment district where you’ll find the main shopping district, which includes duty free stores, banks, money change bureaus, convenience stores, tourist shops, along with a large fruit and vegetable and clothing market that is only 200 metres from the hotel’s main entrance, as well as other restaurants and late night bars all within walking distance. Government and commerce offices are also located in the shadow of The Grand Hotel making it the ideal location for any business and corporate travellers. The hotel’s management also provides the option for business personnel to organise meetings in a professional setting and boardroom atmosphere within the hotel. Port Vila and surrounding Islands offer endless experiences from the world’s most accessible active volcano, cascading waterfalls, cultural ceremonies and dances to pristine beaches, not to mention an assortment of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, bars, casinos and shopping. There are five recommended tours on Efate, so try at least one or two of them during your visit and you will return home with a hoard of treasured memories. All tours are available daily but may be weather dependent.

1. Mele Cascades Waterfall Tour: This is a trip through the lush and tropical rainforest, where you’ll be able to catch sight of Vanuatu’s plentiful bounty and learn about the culture and livelihood of the local people. At the top of the beautiful cascading fresh waterfalls, step under the falls for a natural, cooling shower or go for a dip in the clear rock pools below for a refreshing swim. At the base, you will find an array of tropical seasonal fruits and cold drinks awaiting your descent – served in the Mele Cascades Riverside Garden. Should time allow, take some panoramic photographs of the scenery from a lookout view on the way back to Port Vila.

2. Coongoola Day Cruise: Join this South Sea Adventure Cruise to exclusive offshore beaches in ‘Sun and Moon Bay’ (Laonmeten Bay) on enchanting Moso Island where you’ll be served a tropical beach BBQ. Enjoy the charm and character of ‘Coongoola,’ a large classic timber auxiliary sailing ketch, once, a round-the-world cruiser and mother ship to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, now Vanuatu’s Lady of the Sea.

Vanuatu - Visit, Indulge and Play3. Round Island Tour: Enjoy seven stops around the sland capturing the essence of Port Vila while uncovering local treats along the way. The trip includes stops at:

• Iarofa Custom Village, an amazing cultural experience
• Blue Lagoon or Eton Beach where you’ll enjoy swimming and refreshments
• Eton Village including a visit to the local primary school
• Pang Pang Village where you’ll learn of the huge banyan trees and their usage
• Sara Beach and Jungle Restaurant with a Melanesian style buffet lunch
• The WW2 Museum which is rich in local history
• And Havannah Harbour and a visit to Vanuatu’s survivor beach
4. Scenic Flight and Tanna Volcano Tour: Mt. Yasur, on the Southern Vanuatu Island of Tanna is probably the archipelago’s most iconic landmark. Words can’t describe the thrill  and awe of walking to the edge of an active volcano and watching  it ‘erupt’! It is a once in a lifetime, bucket-list experience and quite simply a must do while in Vanuatu. This premium tour to Tanna includes a spectacular and informative 4WD adventure through tropical jungle, over rugged mountain passes, past quaint villages and across ash plain. Lunch and refreshments are provided.
5. Sunset Cruise: Enjoy a beautiful tropical Vanuatu sunset, with good company, music, great catering
as the moon rises over the water as you cruise in paradise. If the weather is fine you’ll be in for an evening of calm sailing on the tranquil still waters of Mele Bay. Sit back, relax and let your imagination roam free. Sip on champagne,
red and white wine or local beer and soft drinks, and indulge in a selection of hot and cold gourmet finger food. This year, Vanuatu (translated as  ‘The Land Eternal’) is celebrating 35 successful years as an independent nation archipelago of 83 islands, so formulate some holiday plans and take the VIP opportunity to Visit, Indulge and Play in this wonderful South Pacific paradise.
Facts:
The Grand Hotel, Port Vila P: + 678 28882 , www.grandvanuatu.com
Vanuatu Tourism Office www.vanuatu.travel
The author flew courtesy of Air Vanuatu from Auckland. For scheduled services visit: www.airvanuatu.com
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