Paradise Lagoon. Trip to Vanuatu

Comments: This is a tropical paradise on the island of Vanuatu.

I will visit the airport and the tropical islands of Vanuatu.

Good afternoon, dear readers!

Mystery Island (local name – Inyeug) is a tiny island in the South Pacific, belonging to the Republic of Vanuatu, the territory of which consists of 83 islands of the New Hebrides archipelago. The island is best known in the tourist business as Mystery island, but very few Russian-language sources mention the name Mystery Island. It is one of the southernmost islands in Vanuatu and is 700 meters from a larger island called Aneityum Island. Like the other islands in the region, Mystery Island is of volcanic origin.

I found myself here in December 2019 during a work contract on the cruise ship Ruby Princess, which was then on a 10-day cruise from Sydney to the islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. There is, of course, no port on this little island, only a small pier to which the ship’s passengers and staff were brought by rescue boats; the ship itself was anchored not far from land.

As I left the liner for the island and walked along the boat dock to set foot on its land, I saw such an idyllic scene:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

In the clear water by the pier a multitude of small fish were splashing about, probably attracted by leftovers that some tourist had brought with him from the ship and then decided to feed to the inhabitants of the expanse of water:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

On the way out of the pier, already on land, I saw several shops where you could buy boat excursions from locals (or rather, from residents of the neighboring larger island of Aneityum – Mystery Island has no permanent residents): snorkeling on the local coral reefs, a trip to the turtle lagoon, a trip to Aneityum Island.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

I booked a snorkeling excursion, but all the boats and snorkeling supplies were already occupied for the next hour, so I was booked for a trip an hour later. While waiting for my excursion, I went for a walk around the island to the left of the pier.

Mystery Island is stunningly beautiful, and for someone who grew up in colder climates, it seems like a tropical paradise. The views are breathtaking, and you can’t stop pressing the shutter.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

There are a lot of pandanus on the coast of Mystery Island. They have interesting fruits that look like pineapples, but only some of these species are edible. Its leaves are used for weaving and various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine and rituals.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

The pandanus bushes on the shores of the island are very picturesque:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

There is a path in the pandanus thickets that you can walk along:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

This is the kind of house I spotted while walking along the path:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Another interesting thing about pandanus is that they grow adventitious roots (or walker roots), which save these plants from the very strong winds that sometimes blow where they grow. These roots look similar to the roots of mangroves:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

After walking around a bit, I returned to the shop where I had booked my snorkeling trip. I hurried back there a little before the trip was supposed to take place, because I realized that with the limited amount of snorkeling gear, arriving just before departure, you can not get the right size fins and then suffer the whole trip in small (we have already been there, hence the wariness). Since I arrived early I got the right fins and a decent pair of goggles. As I expected, there were not enough large size fins and some of us had to go, with difficulty pulling on small fins.

So, our group was given fins, snorkel goggles, life jackets, and led to the boats.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

The boat took us some distance from the shore (not far enough, I’d say) and then the attendant let us jump in the water, where we spent the next 45 minutes (or so).

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The reefs here were pretty nice. Colorful corals, lots of different fish, although not as diverse a variety of species as in some other places.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Since we weren’t very far from shore, many of us swam back to the island on our own. We turned in our equipment to the attendant, and I was about to go on to further explore Mystery Island, when suddenly I happened to meet some friends of mine who had just arrived from the ship, and we decided to take a little walk together and go to the beach.

Not far from the pier, there were specially equipped places for photographs. We, of course, did not miss the opportunity to take pictures, especially since these photo spots were made very originally and with humor, and it cost mere pennies – probably a dollar or so. For example, here’s a couple of locals making cannibal soup out of us in a cauldron:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

And here is the second photo point, where they put wreaths of artificial flowers on us:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

After walking a little more, we came to the local souvenir market, which apparently only works on those fairly rare days when cruise ships come into the waters near the island:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

At the market, we all bought a coconut each and headed for the beach. The beaches of the South Pacific islands, in my opinion, are some of the best in the world, and here too it was wonderful – soft white sand, very warm water (not a second to get used to) and tropical vegetation around. By the way, the larger island called Aneityum, located a few hundred meters from Mystery Island, is well visible from here.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

For a fee, you can stay in a gazebo like this:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

We, of course, settled down simply, on towels laid on the sand, and spent some time bathing and basking in the sun. I want to say that the weather on the island was very comfortable – of course it was hot, but not very humid, in addition, all the time there was a light pleasant breeze.

After an hour we decided to walk around the island, just along the beach there was a path:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

By the path there was a toilet like this:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

The path went along the beach for a while:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Then the beach ended and the rocks began – you should not swim here, of course, but these places look quite picturesque:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Here nearby we saw such a picture:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

This is the runway of the local airport, 610 meters long. The island of Mystery is uninhabited, no one lives there permanently, but there is an airport called Anatom Airport, because nearby is a larger island Aneityum with a population of about 1000 people. Planes arrive here three times a week from Port Vila, the capital city of Vanuatu, and on the way they make a stop on the island of Tanna (another fairly large island that is part of the state).

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

In fact, the airport occupies almost half of the island: it is located in the middle of the island, on both sides it is separated from the coast by thickets of vegetation. We walked along the path along the airport, only we didn’t know it until we came to the edge of the island and saw the runway.

Now, having rounded the island, we walked slowly back along the path to the boat dock – to our right we had the airport behind a thicket of plants (very thin on this side), and to our left was the beautiful coastline.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Pretty soon we came to another beach very close to the pier. Here you could even rent kayaks.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

We took some more pictures with stunning views of our ship anchored and the neighboring island of Aneityum and soon boarded the boat and headed back to the boat.

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Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island is gorgeous. Generally speaking, the islands of the South Pacific are not as frequently visited by tourists as islands in, say, the Caribbean, so they are not turned into a glittering but soulless conveyor belt for beating money out of tourists. Here, once on the island, you can really enjoy the magnificent almost unspoiled nature, instead of ending up in a huge port tourist village with endless souvenir, alcohol, and jewelry stores, like in the Caribbean. The impression of visiting the islands in this region is simply unforgettable!

Recreation in Vanuatu – where to go

Overcoming all the difficulties of travel to Vanuatu, people who prefer an active holiday. Numerous aquamarine beaches and natural lagoons are for diving and water sports. The ring of coral reefs around the islands is every diver’s secret dream. Tourists are offered exciting boat trips and fishing. Read about where to visit Vanuatu in 2022 in this article

Historical and geographical background

Vanuatu is a republic in the Pacific Ocean. The head of state is the president. The coastline of this country is more than 2,500 km long. It’s not a single territory, but a cluster of 83 islands in the New Hebrides archipelago. The total area of the country is 12 190 km².

Vanuatu on the map:

The first island in the archipelago was discovered by Spanish sailors in 1606. Only in 1980, the islands gained independence and acquired their present name. The literal translation means “this land forever”. This is the name of the country after independence from England and France.

The Republic has three national languages: French, English and Bislama (Creole language based on English). Locals use more than 105 dialects to communicate, on different islands.

GDP per capita is $4251. Most of the population is Christian, but there is also a large Catholic community.

Currency: Vanuatu Vatu.

Most of the islands have mountainous terrain. This relief has been formed by the movement of tectonic plates. They are surrounded by a ring of coral reefs. To the west of the extreme point of the archipelago is an oceanic depression, up to 8000 m deep.

All the islands of the republic are located in the volcanic belt of the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, earth tremors and volcanic eruptions are a common phenomenon for the locals.

Weather in Vanuatu

The climate is tropical and damp. The weather is characterized by stability of temperatures all year round. The average temperature is 20 -28 ° C.

When the hottest and wettest season, from December to April, the temperature reaches 38°C.

From November to February, Vanuatu is plagued by tropical rainstorms.

But the temperature of coastal waters stays around 24°C all year round.

How to get there

Travel to Vanuatu is logistically challenging as there are no direct lines from Russia. To get to Vanuatu you must change trains (two or more). For the road is recommended to write off 2 days. Today the traditional route is via Australia or New Zealand. To protect yourself from the long wait for a flight to Vanuatu, it is advisable to have visas for these countries.

There is an international airport in the capital, Bauerfeld. To which Air Vanuatu flies from Australia about 5 times a week. Flights are available from airports in Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Keep in mind that even the budget airlines have expensive flights to Vanuatu. The cost of a pre-booked ticket starts at $150-200. Buying a ticket before departure can cost more than $500.

There is an intergovernmental agreement by which the citizens of Russia enter the republic without a visa. However, previously a visa was not required for vacationers if the purpose of the trip is tourism, and the period of stay in the country is less than 30 days.

When passing through visa control you must show a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months, a return ticket, and prove financial solvency.

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How to travel within the country

Transport between the islands is established ferries and boats. The outlying areas are connected with the local airline company Vanair. You can travel around the islands by rented car or bicycle. Car rentals are available on the larger islands, there are no roads on smaller islands. Locals prefer bicycles and the infrastructure is adapted to this.

Where to Stay

In Vanuatu, you can stay in the capital Porto Vila or on islands resorts, where it is best to live with children.

Hotel Lakatoro Palm Lodge

price – 4164 rubles for a bungalow room.

  • Located on the island;
  • fan and mosquito net;
  • paid Wi-Fi;
  • terrace in each bungalow;
  • free tropical breakfast;
  • What’s close by: beach 1.5 km away, Norsup airport;
  • there is a restaurant with national cuisine.

Aoré Art Café Hotel

6,406 rubles.

  • Located in Luganville;
  • free Wi-Fi and parking;
  • air conditioning;
  • In-room desk, closet, and kettle;
  • cafe;
  • there is a terrace and garden;
  • what’s nearby: snorkeling and biking; 6 km. from SS President Coolidge store.

Hotel Alofa Beach Bungalows

price – 3203 rubles.

  • Alofa Beach Bungalows is located in Lenakel, 100 m from the beach;
  • The room has a fan and a bathroom;
  • garden around the bungalows;
  • free parking;
  • no Wi-Fi;
  • 24-hour reception;
  • pets allowed; pets allowed;
  • there is a tour desk;
  • each bungalow has a terrace;
  • Restaurant with international cuisine.

Sunset Bungalows Resort, Vanuatu

Rates are 10,593 rubles.

  • Located by the water’s edge in Port Vila;
  • adults only;
  • There is a pool with a waterfall;
  • Bungalows have a terrace overlooking the water;
  • There is air conditioning and satellite TV;
  • a refrigerator and safe;
  • there are rooms with a kitchenette;
  • free Wi-Fi and parking;
  • restaurant;
  • airport shuttle;
  • Nearby: the city center, Bowerfield Airport, Male Cascade Waterfalls.

Hotel Nakoor Apartments

price – 1968 rubles.

  • Located in Port Vila;
  • free parking and Wi-Fi;
  • accommodation with pets is allowed;
  • airport shuttle;
  • What’s close by: 5 km to Coanda Falls.

The Melanesian Port Vila Hotel

Rate: 5,639 rubles

  • Located near the center of Port Vila;
  • 2 restaurants;
  • Poolside entertainment;
  • 2 tennis courts with night lighting;
  • free Wi-Fi;
  • in-room safe, hair dryer and ironing facilities;
  • TV, refrigerator and tea facilities;
  • buffet breakfast included;
  • What’s close by: Bauerfield Airport and Pago Surf Beach.

Hotel – Iririki Island Resort & Spa

price – 17139 rubles.

  • Located 3 minutes by ferry from Port Vila;
  • Resort & Spa hotel;
  • 2 pools;
  • private beach;
  • casino;
  • 28 hectares;
  • room with kitchenette and balcony;
  • 4 restaurants;
  • coffee bar;
  • fitness center;
  • free non-motorized equipment for water sports;
  • in-room refrigerator;
  • no pets allowed.

What to try

National cuisine is a blend of two styles–Pacific traditions with an abundance of fish dishes and the colonizing traditions of the French and British. The food is served in hotel and resort restaurants, as well as in inexpensive restaurants and cafes owned by locals.

A striking example of the national cuisine is the dish “laplap” with a rather exotic taste for Europeans. It consists of cassava, bananas, and yams, with the addition of wild spinach and coconut. It is eaten as a separate dish, but is often used as a side dish to fish or meat. Everything is baked together over charcoal in earthen ovens. Almost all island dishes contain yams, cassava, bananas, coconuts, papaya, mangoes, and pineapples. The traditional seasoning is ground coconut. Steaming and baking on hot coals are used in the cooking techniques.

A popular meat dish is the fried green-winged pigeon, the “natu”.

As for seafood, crab, combined with vegetables and various methods of cooking, makes up a large part of the menu for the islanders.

For dessert they serve manioc, a pie made of grated potatoes with a crispy crust. They also offer different kinds of bananas – fried, dried, dried, in caramel, with various sauces.

Given the temperature of the archipelago islands, the most popular drink here is tea. Many varieties with different blends are offered to tourists to try. Green tea is very popular.

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Local low-alcohol drink “kava” is known far beyond the borders of Vanuatu. It is obtained by special fermentation of local herbs. The history of the drink counts more than a thousand years.

What to bring from Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s favorable taxation policy encourages the growth of real estate and trade in Vanuatu. With the beginning of independence, there has been an explosion of shopping centers and restaurants.

Vanuatu is a crossroads of cultures, so shopping here ranges from French and Chinese to native Melanesian. Many products of European and East Asian imports.

Local souvenir shop

The place to shop is the lower main street in Port Vila, there are many duty free stores and banks. The upper street is full of Chinese stores.

Souvenirs to take with you from Vanuatu can be related to the local original culture. The island tribes have special centuries-old traditions. They demonstrate them to tourists by staging theatrical performances. Among the religious items that are offered to tourists for sale are figurines of deities and idols carved out of wood.

The figurines are often inlaid with semi-precious stones, shells, or pieces of turtle shell, which greatly increases their value. Popular with tourists enjoy masks and weapons of the natives. The masks come in different shapes and colors and are used for rituals on holidays. Each mask has its own cult purpose and history. Of traditional weapons, bows, crossbows and boomerangs are available.

With the increase in tourist traffic and demand, the likelihood of buying not the original product of local craftsmen, and Chinese fakes.

Tourists are offered carvings of wild boar tusks. As a rule, it is jewelry: necklaces and bracelets.

Market in Port Vila

Vegetable and flea market is located near the central post office in Port Vila. Many small vendors, fresh vegetables and fish, there are stalls with national food and cafes. Craftsmen from the outer islands of the republic sell their wares here. This wicker products, mats, hats, national jewelry (bracelets, rattles), figurines and figurines of worship, carved utensils.

Attractions and Entertainment

An interesting tourist spot in Vanuatu is the capital of the state, Port Vila. Excursions to the islands take place from here in all directions.

Cascading waterfalls

What to see around the capital:

  • “Mele Cascades” is a natural waterfall. Beautiful views for photos 10 km. from the city. Wonderful aquamarine lagoons, and at the top of the hill is a 35 meter waterfall, which falls into a natural bay. The infrastructure includes toilets, bar and changing cabins. The inconvenience is that there is a narrow and slippery path with rope rails leading to the waterfall.
  • Vanuatu Cultural Center

The museum has a small exhibition which covers all periods of Vanuatu’s development. It immerses you in the world of local culture and traditions, shows national handicrafts. The cost of admission is about 1000 Vatu.

  • The resort island of Iririki.

Iririki is a private island that is on long-term lease. Located in Mele Bay, near the capital. The owners of the island are Australian businessmen. It is a convenient place for your first dive. Among diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, the resort is very popular. Of the attractions, in addition to the boat ride with a transparent bottom, there is a safari and a wonderful water park (Marine Park Adventure). On the island, there is a unique attraction – the post office underwater. There you can leave special cards for your friends who come to rest after you.

Iririqui Island

The island of Efate is considered the main island and is home to the capital Port Vila. Covered by rolling hills with green tropical vegetation and a rocky coastline. The scenery is mesmerizing with waterfalls and beautiful lagoons. There are several hiking trails through the most beautiful parts of the island.

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There is no city life in the central part of the island. However, it is considered the most densely populated, the number of local residents exceeds 60 thousand people.

The island is famous for its two bays, Havanna and Mele. As you stroll along the waterfront in clear water, you can observe coral and tropical fish life.

Guide suggestions on where to go on the island include a visit to MacDonald Volcano, the fabulous Mele Waterfall, Emerald Beach Eaton, boat rides around the island, hiking and biking, diving and water sports.

There is an opportunity to see one of the most active volcanoes in the world – Yasur, located on the island of Tanna. You can watch the lava eruption of an active volcano. The uniqueness of the volcano is that he has been active for 800 years. About his activities wrote Captain Cook in the journal of the ship in the 1700s.

Volcano Yasur

Recommended destinations

Vanuatu has many active and extinct volcanoes. For example, the island of Santa Maria is almost all occupied by the active volcano Gareth. Its height is almost 979 meters. In the mouth of the volcano is a freshwater lake. Because of its high temperature its waters are constantly in a boiling state. The locals use it to cook seafood delicacies. The length of Lake Letas is 7 km. This means that it is the largest freshwater lake in the South Pacific. The mud near its shores has a high temperature. Birds use it as an incubator.

A mysterious attraction of Gaua are the stone blocks that are placed along the coast. The presence of such erections is explained by the fact that the height of the house used to determine the social status of the population. Therefore, the natives carved such boulders by hand and built their abodes on them.

The largest in the group is Vanua-Lava Island. It is home to an active volcano. Here you can see a large number of geysers and fumaroles. Near the volcano placed two freshwater lakes, the water in which has a different shade. Here you can meet saltwater crocodiles.

What else you should know about the rest

A unique feature of Vanuatu is that it is not customary to tip. Currency exchange banks are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Currency can be exchanged at stationary exchange offices, which are also open on weekends.

In public places it is necessary to take measures to protect against pickpockets: do not carry large sums of cash, keep valuables in the hotel safe. Safety in Vanuatu is ensured by a stable political situation. Health safety is ensured by a list of vaccines to be taken before visiting the country. These include required vaccinations against typhoid and hepatitis B.

The Underwater World of Vanuatu

To avoid conflict situations, you need to be aware of the dominant right to property. First and foremost, this applies to land. Many hiking trails go through private land holdings. When traveling independently, it is better to get permission from the local authorities or the owner, otherwise there may be fines and lawsuits.

For calls and Internet connections it is recommended to buy cards of local operators. Roaming calls are very expensive. Internet service is not available on all islands and has an unstable signal. However, large islands and resorts do not have such a problem.

Video about Vanuatu:

Vanuatu is the perfect place for romantic getaways and is safe for families with children. Bungalows surrounded by tropical jungle at the water’s edge are an unforgettable break from the bustle of the city. Diving and yachting, as well as exciting fishing will not let you get bored people who like an active holiday.

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