Located in the South Pacific I was able to escape to paradise in just 3 hours from Sydney. I stayed on one of the 85 islands which makes up Vanuatu, Erakor Island Resort. http://www.erakorislandresort.com/
The Island was only minutes from the nation’s capital Port Vila on the island of Efate, but it felt like I was a million miles from anywhere! Erakor Island is 16 acres of tropical paradise with beach villas that overlook a stunning lagoon.
As Vanuatu is largely underdeveloped (more so than Fiji) it was so refreshing to be away from a built up city. After just a few minutes of being on this tropical island you become very grounded and the rules and regulations from back in Australia become irrelevant. Port Vila is where the majority of commerce and tourism take place and I would recommend wandering through the markets of strange looking fruit and vegetables and adjusting to the rhythm of Vanuatu time, which is extremely laid back.
As Vanuatu did not gain independence from both the UK and France until 1980 the cuisine is largely European influenced. In Port Vila there are many French restaurants which serve fresh local seafood and red meat, my absolute favourite was La Tentation. Overlooking the harbour I enjoyed a delectable seafood platter with some of the best lobster and crab I’ve ever tried, washed down with a refreshing French Rose.
On Erakor island there was no shortage of activities with free water sports available to all guests. A kayak around the island or snorkelling over the coral was the perfect way to burn off lunch. A hike up to the Mele Waterfalls in Port Vila provided some breathtaking views of the island and the opportunity to swim in the various natural pools on the way up to the main waterfall.
The wonderful thing about Vanuatu is that you feel safe and happy there. I’ve never met so many friendly people before who love their country and want you to enjoy its pleasures, but are not after the ‘tourist dollar’. There is no bargaining, no hawkers, no pressure to buy. It is so refreshing! All the locals will smile as you pass by and say hello or ‘halo’ – you can’t help but feel happy to be on their amazing island too!
Since returning I’ve been doing some word of mouth PR for Vanuatu encouraging everyone I know to go visit, especially the superb Erakor Island Resort which provides accommodation, views, food and customer service at its best. It’s no surprise Vanuatu has been named as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 places to visit in 2011.