Vanuatu - The happiest place in the Pacific
2012 has seen a trend in Kiwis embracing new options for the Pacific Island destinations. Vanuatu is one such destination that House of Travel has seen increase in popularity by 15%. Relaxed, friendly and hospitable, Vanuatu offers more than your sun drenched resorts and powder white beaches.
The potpourri of cultures, the exquisite dining experiences and the happiest people on earth are some of the most endearing memories that visitors take away from this Island paradise.
When thinking of Vanuatu, it is often the differences from the other Pacific Island destinations that best set the scene for the type of holiday experience that you can expect. As a flop and drop destination Vanuatu offers a range of luxurious resorts and spas and tropical hideaways.
But the tourism infrastructure in the capital of port Vila is
also well developed, and getting out and about is easy, rewarding
and tourist friendly.
Its unique Melanesian character and French influence blend together to bring you some of the most sumptuous cuisine that you will experience in the Pacific. Instead of being limited to the resort eateries, Vanuatu offers over 35 restaurants and cafes dotted across the main island of Port Vila serving everything from fine French dining, to local specialties, through to typical western fare.
Santo Beef Steaks, grilled to your personal perfection are a
Vanuatu specialty that cannot be overlooked. But with its rich
biodiversity, Vanuatu's offering of fresh seafood, exotic fruits
and delicious French pastries will make all meal times a highlight
of your visit.
To work away the indulgence of their dishes, Vanuatu offers much for the active relaxer. The islands are dotted with cave treks, blow holes, and local swimming spots to explore. Blokart land sailing, zip lining and visiting the pretty scenic waterfalls are some of the leisure activities that you can indulge in if you are staying at Port Vila, Vanuatu's capital.
There are also ample opportunities for enthusiasts of diving, snorkeling and fishing.
Finally the genuine friendliness of the locals makes you feel right at home. The indigenous culture and tribal customs differ from Polynesian Islands, and blend with the Spanish and French influences to create a culture of hospitality truly unique to the Vanuatu islands.
Where to start your planning: Port Vila
Most visitors will arrive at the main airport at Port Vila, on the island of Efate, and enjoy the majority of their time here and in the surrounding area.
Aside from eating out and visiting the local markets to pick up fresh fruit, handcrafts and souvenirs, we would also recommend days trips around Efate to visit the Mele Cascades, with its beautiful water falls, watering holes and village.
Lelepa Island is also a fun filled day, 10 minutes by boat from Port Vila. The white beaches and crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and fish feeding. Alternatively meander through the bush on a guided walk, or visit the local village.
Diving at Espiritu Santo
Complete magic for the diving enthusiast, Espiritu Santo's crystal clear waters hold the wreck of the SS President Coolidge, that sank after striking a mine in 1942. There are many other W.W.II relics that can be explored by divers and experienced snorkelers alike.
For those looking for a fresh water swimming experience, the Blue Holes are stunning crystal clear, deep blue watering holes fed by fresh water springs.
Active volcanoes at Tanna
With one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes, Tanna is a must see for visitors to Vanuatu.
Take a 4WD to the rim of the Mt Yasur to see its active
explosions by day, and stay the night to watch this very special
natural pyrotechnic extravaganza by night. We recommend staying for
2 nights in Tanna to take in this very unique island.
Meeting the locals is another highlight of visiting Tanna, where the villagers have maintained their indigenous culture, ceremonies and ways of life, shunning influences from the modern world. Here is an opportunity to embrace the uniqueness of the Melanesian culture.
Getting to Vanuatu and where to stay
Vanuatu is only a 3 hour flight away from Auckland. Air Vanuatu flies twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays year round. Air New Zealand flies once a week on Sundays year round and then add a second seasonal flight as required.
Vanuatu has a wide variety of accommodation options from luxurious international spa resorts, to luxury serviced apartment, and intimate lodges. Speak to your House of Travel consultant about the type of accommodation that best suits your needs
Deal of the day - Vanuatu getaway
Breakas Beach Resort - 4 nights, transfers & flights from $999 per person share twin from Auckland
BONUS: A one hour massage per bungalow, a Melanesian cooking class and cultural tour of local village
Travel: 16 Feb-31 Mar 13
HOT $299 BONUS: For an additional $299 per person share twin enjoy three extra nights at Breakas Beach Resort and a continental breakfast for 4 mornings of your stay.
Visit your local House of Travel store, or www.houseoftravel.co.nz for more information.