Tell me you don’t like the idea of a Pacific island holiday and watch me laugh in your face! Everyone does. There’s no theory, reason, or evidence that you could produce that would make me change my mind.
I tell you what, let’s do it the other way round. Let me tell you some things about… let’s say… Vanuatu, and we’ll see who changes their mind first.
We headed to Vanuatu for our long-awaited honeymoon. Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital city, is on the island of Efate. It’s the second largest in the 82-island archipelago that spans 12,200 sq km of water.
The coast of Efate is typical of islands in the South Pacific. Diamond-clear water, not much surf, soft white sand and an abundance of sea life just itching to leap out onto your plate!
Where did we stay?
As it was our honeymoon, we had the excuse of pushing the boat out a bit further. We stayed at Tamanu on the Beach, 35 minutes south of Port Vila. It calls itself ‘Vanuatu’s only luxury boutique absolute oceanfront resort’… quite a name, isn’t it?
And it’s a name worth having – especially when it delivers!
What was it like?
When we arrived, we were shown to our own beachfront coral cottage, close enough to ocean’s edge we were glad neither of us sleepwalk! They’re called coral cottages for good reason too. The walls are entirely made up of coral! Anyone who’s been to Yorkshire in the UK knows about the drystone walls there. This is kind of the same thing.
There are only three cottages with beachfront positions. The other three, set back a little way from the beach make up the total of six places to stay in this resort. Each oceanfront cottage has a lot of floor space – between 60-80 sq metres – a large verandah onto the beach, and an open-air bathroom.
Along this coastline, sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand every year between March and April. Oh and the beach is private, so you won’t see anyone unless they’re staying at Tamanu or they work there. Or they’re turtles.
What did we do?
Tempted as we were, we didn’t spend all our time at Tamanu. We did other things too! Driving to the north of the island, we discovered many secluded beaches and villages.
WWII Museum and Wreck Diving
In particular, near the village of Paognisu, we came across the WWII museum. It’s just a tiny shed with a few bits of broken ammunition, parts of planes and things like that.
But, there was also a sign for tours to an American fighter plane, wrecked in the sea when it ran out of fuel. The Americans had an airbase here in the 1940s and although Efate didn’t see any of the conflict, accidents still happen.
We were taken out to the wreck by the museum guy in his tiny wooden boat. Because the tide was low, he had to get out and drag the boat through the mud. I offered to get out and help, but he was emphatic. We had to stay in the boat.
The wreck, when we got there, was in three metres of water, tangled in sea grass and rusted to its shell. We were allowed to stay there for only ten minutes before we had to leave again. This was plenty of time, but still, we did wonder why the time limit.
Heading south again towards Port Vila, we visited the Mele Cascades in the west of the island. This is an incredible experience and a must-see.
Down from the steep hills towards the little village of Mele flows a waterfall from an underwater stream. The deluge cascades down hundreds of steps into a series of pools, some deep enough to swim in. The water is cool and fresh, and you can climb up the falls to where the stream first emerges.
Port Vila Markets
We also went to the weekend markets in Port Vila itself. Unfortunately we timed it badly as a giant cruise liner had just come into port that morning. The relatively sleepy capital had transformed into a tourist ghetto, with throngs of savage bumbag/fannypack-toting shouters filled the streets.
We retired to a little local food place on one of the piers and took stock. All too soon we would be heading back to Tamanu to check out and catch our flight back home.
The memories of our honeymoon in the South Pacific will stay with us for the rest of our lives. And after all, isn’t that what travelling’s all about?
Tamanu on the Beach: click here to see their different specials and deals on stays here.
Private tour to the plane wreck: VT800 (Vanuatu ‘vatu’) each
Entrance to Mele Cascades: VT1000 each (VT250 for kids) – money goes towards to the local Mele villagers who maintain the facilities, clean toilets, barbecue hut etc.
Flights to Port Vila are very frequent with five flight companies operating between Port Vila and Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, though all flights transfer via Australia or New Zealand.
- Air New Zealand
- Air Pacific
- Virgin Australia
- Air Vanuatu also flies from Australia and NZ.