Category Archives: South West Pacific

Vanuatu Local Highlights and Farewell.

High School students from Auckland, NZ giving up a week of their break to volunteer at a local school. They’ll be helping with reading, writing, painting and general assistance with teaching staff.

Feel safe walking around Port Vila with new shops ‘popping’ up. Signs of recovery well and truly.

Tanna coffee is sold almost everywhere, in particular Port Vila. Nice and strong, just how I like it.

No explanation needed.

You can take a ride to almost anywhere on the island and with this van, it was 200-300 Vatu with a couple of ‘hoodies’ – happy to have a chat along the way to Hideaway Island.

They understand it’s the customer’s who’s paying the bills at the end of the day! Good job.

Yes it’s home to the Underwater Post Office, unfortunately washed away with the cyclone. However, it’ll be back …

The ferry’s all loaded up and constantly crosses over to Hideaway with fresh produce and goods.

I wish Sydney Taxis had this on the back of their vehicles. But then again, I’d never be off the phone …

Finished this trip and then back home. Enjoying a glass or two before packing up.

Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu – Part Four

Flight from Port Vila to Santo Island is an easy fifty minutes with Air Vanuatu.

The Manager Dave would like you to feel welcome at the Beachfront Resort, his off sider at Reception is happy to see you as well.

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Pool view at the Beachfront Resort which offers excellent accommodation over looking the sheltered waters of Segond Channel and Aore Island.

Although a bit rainy for a couple of days, it was an easy place to relax in Melanesian-style surroundings. It’s about a ten-minute walk to the township of Luganville.

Or you can take a taxi for about 100 vatu (approx. A$1.25 each way). They drive on the wrong side of the road too – meaning the right-hand side. French influence ‘eh?

First stop is the markets, again fresh vegetables available all day.

These little bananas are as sweet as …

Or you can make new friends over lunch (across from the markets), here with Shahar and Tzvia who are visiting from Melbourne.

Food is fantastic value and very tasty.

Wong store? You might as well go in – lots of bargains.


You can head over to Santo’s Aore Island Resort for the day and have use of the restaurant with wonderful views back towards Luganville.

If you buy lunch, the boat ride over is free. So worth it as the cuisine is delectable and classy!

So what do you do at the end of the day? Head over to HQ Kava Bar with the boss!

Dave ordering us all a round of Kava …

Ummm I think my face says it all … Bit numb later on so not much more to give away about what I think.

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All you can do really is sit back, relax and watch others at work on the river while doing some texting – just making sure the world is still a happening place …

Mount Yasur Volcano, Tanna Island – Part Three

We’re on our way from the tiny township of Tanna Island passing small villages and markets along the way. Mostly shy people but very friendly and happy to sell you their truly fresh ‘organic’ vegetables. You have to see the dark-chocolate brown earth to realis just how tasty and delicious the food in Vanuatu really is.

Believe it or not, this is one of the best parts of the roadway leading us to this smoking fella …

Not looking forward to the partially-built road ending.

Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of Vanuatu’s volcanoes, has been in more or less continuous Stromboli an and vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774.

Upon closer inspection, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve just arrived on the moon.

Our guide buying our tickets at the entrance to the park. Individual adult price approximately 3,200 Vatu (A$41.00).

Kerrie and Mike, like me waiting for our tickets to gain entry. Admiring a large Banyan tree, which incidentally is small compared to the one we’ll see tomorrow.

The area around the eastern base of the cone of Yasur volcano is covered with thousands of large bombs from previous strong eruptions. It’s a height of 361 metres (1,184 feet) above sea level.

After a rather arduous 4 x wheel-drive adventure through unsealed roads, island villages, deep pot holes, flowing rivers and desolate ash plains, finally we arrive at the base of Mount Yasur. Upon hearing all the rumbling, you’ll be amazed to see what’s inside this big bubbling hole in the earth’s surface … The drive took about one hour and twenty minutes in fine weather conditions.

Thankfully there’s a guide to advise visitors which way to go around the rim …

As Vanuatu lies squarely on top of the Pacific Ring of Fire, it has nine active volcanoes, seven on land and two beneath the sea.

This is the most famous volcano in the world for its constant activity and is the most easily accessible – bringing thousands of tourists to Tanna Island each year.

While the walk is a little rough and steep in parts, the climb only takes about 15 minutes. Then when you’re there, right at the mouth of the crater, it’s the most amazing experience to feel the rumbling earth beneath your feet.

I didn’t take this photo, our guide Mr Song took it for me as I was feeling quite heady, especially from the wind blowing ash and smoke our way. I couldn’t sit for fear of being unbalanced when standing again.

If I can describe it as being petrified and exhilarated at the same time, then that was me.

2010 has seen an unusual level of high activity from Mt Yasur and is being monitored constantly each day by authorities.

Always go with a guide and follow their directions at all times, they are trained and experienced to know the safest places for you to stand and watch the activity. They will have torches and clothing suitable for the conditions. It can be very cold on occasion – so rug up, keep with your guide and do as they say – which means staying in the boundaries which are meant to be safe.

Three people have been killed over the years because they wandered to lower, unsafe areas. In one incident, both a guide and tourist were killed because the tourist had insisted on going to a dangerous part and the guide accompanied her. Both were hit by erupting pieces of lava and died instantly.

Next day we’re seeking out ‘The world’s Largest Banyan Tree’ and yes it’s here on Tanna Island as well.

Our guide who lives locally having a swinging good time.

And here’s the real Tanna, lots of children from the villages who’ve come out to say hello.

Kerrie making friends with the school children who are all at different stages of learning. When visiting these more remote islands, don’t forget to clear out your stationery and text books which might be useful for the schools and take it along for them. They’ll be greatly appreciated.

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These three little piggies are making their way home and so are we!

Port Vila to Tanna Island, Vanuatu – Part Two

At Mangoes Resort it’s not just the excellent bar staff who will keep you happy with cocktails, it’s the fabulous food and ambience of an adults-only property as it’s child free.

Pool view at Mangoes Resort.

Garden View Bungalow, spacious with a kitchenette which is handy when you simply wish to stay in.

Coconut Palms Resort has a variety of apartments for different budgets. The Palm Deluxe Apartments here are spacious and top of the range. Single rooms are available as well and the property is only a few minutes walk to the main shopping areas.

Now back at Port Vila Bauerfield Airport where I’m making my way to Tanna Island with Air Vanuatu as it’s only a 35 minute flight. Air Vanuatu has Air Passes available for island hopping which can be much cheaper than purchasing separate air fares. Be mindful for each and every domestic departure there is a fee of 200 Vatu (approximately A$2.50 per person) regardless if you are only transiting through to the next island. This must be paid at a counter for collection after you’ve checked in.

The domestic and international airports are located adjacent to each other. Transfers are available with companies such as Atmosphere and Adventures in Paradise to your hotel and offer a variety day tours.

Flying into Tanna Island and trust me the plane is full. Book early is my advice.

Air Taxi is available too, especially if you need an urgent flight around the islands of Vanuatu.

Called into the local garage for a top of fuel.

Arriving at Tanna Lodge Resort after about 20 – 30 minute pick up and transfer from White Grass airport.

Comprising of 12 individual handcrafted bungalows, all featuring cathedral ceilings, thatched roofs, large spacious interiors, tiled floor and ceiling fans.

This one has an outdoor garden shower which I personally love.

Simply enjoying the view and peaceful nature of the area. From the beach, you can visit dolphins, also turtles and whales can be seen, or coconut crabs being Tanna’s non venomous reptiles they can be observed by walking into the Lodge’s own protected rainforest and caves.

This guy was a local and whilst he’s swimming, I’m just going to watch him … Nice view ‘eh!

Every single day whilst in Vanuatu, I saw a rainbow without fail.

Local children playing and having a bit of fun. Bit shy at times but very cute.

Met lovely Kerrie and Mike from Victoria along the way and it almost seems they were taking new vows.

Time to leave my beaut Bungalow and meet the owners.

Delightful Stella (sitting) – laughing at us having a bit of fun. Lisa is a pilot with Air Taxis and her colleagues are giving us a rendition of what it’s like flying small aircraft. Glad we’re not going anywhere right now …

Some serious shopping next day at the local market which is a good 20 minute walk from the Lodge.

Don’t let those carrots ‘walk on by’. Fresh as …

This Tree House stayed put during Cyclone Pam considering Tanna Island was hard hit by it.

Equivalent to a grocery store with many goods sold in bulk.

Ned grabbing an ice cream from a local shop, now we’re going to chat about our afternoon’s trip heading off to Mount Yasur. Tanna Lodge also offers tours to the volcano which is handy if you’re already a guest staying at the there.

Stay tuned – Part Three Mount Yasur

Vanuatu “Open for Business”. Port Vila – Part One

Vanuatu – open for business.

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Air Vanuatu operate several services a week from Sydney with once a week services from Brisbane and Melbourne. They code share with Qantas Airways on these routes.

Less than four hours flying time you’re almost there. Great for anyone wanting an overseas holiday without having to travel long distances.

Says it all …

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After arriving in Port Vila it’s interesting to walk around the township and see how the locals are coping after Cyclone Pam. However, it’s warming to see people are still smiling and the artwork depicts a resilient, strong culture who refuse to be flattened.
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The damage has been done, but now everyone’s pulling together, they’ve cleaned up much of the debris and wanting to move on.

The local central school was spared more damage as this uprooted tree was pushed over during the cyclone and missed the main buildings.

Moorings Hotel is located close to the main shopping areas with a brisk ten-minute walk along the foreshore. The bar’s roof was damaged during the cyclone, but that didn’t stop us drinking from under it!

Fresh peanuts from the markets along with a Tusker beer is a fab way to relax.

Walking down to the markets and some teenagers waved to me after their photo was taken.

Lawn bowls not! Played on dirt this will test anyone’s skills, even those who’ve been doing it like this for years.

At the markets I met Miriam who heads up a consortium for those who wish to set up their little eateries – giving them guidance and assistance if need.

She cooks up a dish to your liking. As usual I asked for spicy …

You can’t miss the markets as this is the centre of attention for anything worth eating.


Vanuatu’s national dish is a root vegetable cake called ‘laplap’. It is made from manioc (cassava) grated or shaved into a banana leaf with wild local cabbage and coconut, wrapped into a flat parcel and cooked underground. Generally has a chicken piece laid on the top.

Hmmm, Kava here is bigger and better than anywhere else in the South West Pacific I’m told. I’ll try it later…

Just outside the markets there’s a fantastic view of Iririki Resort which will be operating again early December, 2015.

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If you see me walking down the street, see if you can put me in the picture?

At the end of the day, enjoying a fantastic sunset view at Moorings hotel. Very happy to be back in Vanuatu after a few years absence.