It’s summer holidays in Australia and we normally go with the traditional Aussie camping holiday close to one of many beautiful beaches along the East Coast. However, this time around, as horrendous bushfires are all over the nation including all our favourite spots north and south of Sydney, we were forced to cancel our plans and look for other alternatives. It feels a little bad to go overseas on a holiday while the crisis is still going on, but with a heavy heart we decided to take the kids away for a week to breathe some clean air and reduce the anxiety level among all of us. It’s worrying how much the children are stressed about the bushfires and Climate Change, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the end is near.
And so, we were lucky to find a last minute deal to Vanuatu. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu is a Y-shaped archipelago consisting of about 82 relatively small islands, while only 14 of them have surface areas of more than 100 square kilometres. We visited one of the main islands, Efate, close to the capital Port Villa. The people are so nice and friendly, very welcoming and always with a smile on their face. I’m always inspired by such people who may be considered poor in western-world standards, but seem to be much happier than all of us westerns, who treat life as an ongoing race. “Stay Relaxed” was printed on our Holiday Inn Resort keypad, as if reminding us not just to enjoy and relax while on holiday, but to take this message with us back home and just… chill.
It’s fair to say, we spent most of the week at the resort: swimming in the pool, kayaking and sailing in the lagoon,playing golf and beach volleyball, and back to swimming in the pool. But apart from having too much food at breakfast and just chilling, we did go out to explore the island. A couple of visits to the city of Port Villa where we went to the handcraft markets (one of them is known as Mama’s Market) as all tourists do, though I enjoyed the local markets much more, seeing the variety of fruit and vegetables on the island and enjoying a fresh coconut drink (kindly chopped on the spot for us).
We did a day tour to a local village where the Chief introduced us to how he and his family still live the same way their tribe used to live years and years ago, before modernisation and technology. We swam at beautiful cascades, then fed magical giant sea turtles at the Turtle Sanctuary, swung on ropes and jumped into a blue lagoon and finished the day at the beach. Just beware of the local Stone Fish, which is not so friendly if you step on it, so wearing protective shoes is recommended.
On another day, we went snorkeling at Hideaway Island, a little island just off the main island, where we could see lots of fish and starfish, sea cucumber, and post a letter onto the underwater Post Office. Back at the resort, they had something going on every evening. From a traditional Dance show, to an inspiring Fire show and finishing off with the highlight – the Water Mamas show inside the pool, where the ladies and their young children drum on water and sing along. Beautiful!
Finally, we spent the last day in complete relaxation – stayed at the resort, rested at the hut by the lagoon, and spent hours on the hammocks all afternoon, then wasted the last bits of energy left at the pool till dark. Night swimming. So overall, one of the best holidays ever, and what a way to kick off the year. Recommended to all, go and visit the lovely people of Vanuatu.