Vanuatu: The Friendly Isles really are well... friendly.

Vanuatu: The Friendly Isles really are well... friendly.

Vanuatu is located in the Pacific Ocean and is known as the Friendly Isles, because that is exactly what it is.

The people are of Melanesian descent and have a very practical approach to life, much like many of the other Pacific Islands.

There is no rush, things will happen when they happen, don’t stress – this is “island time”.


It is like the flight from Sydney to Vanuatu. No one can give a definitive answer on how long it takes to get there.

We were talking to a pilot while exploring the main island of Efate, who told us that it depended on the winds and on the pilot and what (s)he has to do. No rush, no pressure, you will get there in good time (between 2.5 – 3.5hrs from Sydney, maybe).

The capital city, and that is an oxymoron, is Port Vila and it is small. It is located on Efate, and it again is very chilled out.

If you like hawkers then you won’t find them here, as that takes a lot of effort, though if you arrive by a cruise ship on the other side you may well see some pretty inactive ones. Instead you will see the local islanders sitting at the markets and chatting about life in general.

Vanuatu is without doubt, extremely beautiful.

Palm trees swaying, nice breezes, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, pristine blue water, and bright yellow sand – all textbook perfect, and it delivers. Most accommodation is on the water so it is pretty much idyllic.


Vanuatu is actually an archipelago consisting of some 82 islands. Aside from Effate, Tanna is very popular because of its volcano, which can be climbed. Espiritu Santo is the largest island and has some excellent diving and phenomenal caves to explore, while Pentecost Island is where bungee jumping originated. The Nagol festival, or land jumping, occurs between April June. This is where men jump from trees with their feet tied by vines and plummet to the ground. It is not safe. However it is a full on cultural festival, so put this event on the must see diary. Pentecost Island is a little more difficult to get to and everything is basic but the spectacle and the ceremony that accompanies this event is worth it.

Our choice was to have a water based holiday as I wanted to learn how to sail a catamaran and my husband wanted to do the Padi diving course, and apparently I don’t require certification for snorkeling.

We ordered our cat for that afternoon and wandered down at the appointed time. No one to be seen anywhere. After a long search we did find a man who found my cat eventually. We had not got used to island time at this stage. So I had my first lesson sailing around the harbour of this pretty little town. It was so enjoyable and not as difficult to master as I thought, and kept practicing over the stay.


Over the next week Gordon did his diving course, when the instructors were ready. This is all good, as it really doesn’t take long to adapt to Vanuatu time. The diving is seriously good here with many shipwrecks to explore and most days saw him exploring a different wreck while I fished and snorkeled.

Vanuatu is also home to some of the most mazing waterfalls and lush rainforests. The hinterland of the main island Effate, is extremely pastoral and that probably accounts for the fact that they serve the best ribs in the world. Challenge me on that, because you would be hard pressed to find such large and succulent ribs while over looking a stunning little harbour.

We also went to Hideaway Island because it was a nice lazy boat ride to a pretty island and also because it has an underwater post office. You are able to swim out, and then dive down and post your letter or postcard to anywhere in the world, and, a postmaster mans it. Now that is pretty awesome.

The friendly isles of Vanuatu are exactly that. Just go with the flow and you will enjoy it a lot. However, getting back to frenetic time is simply awful.


Travel diary shared by Contented Traveller


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