Video: Vanuatu Good Times

Vanuatu is a tropical island only three hours flight from Auckland, and boy is it a hidden treasure. Filled with culture, laid-back lifestyle and views you could only dream of, Vanuatu is a paradise and experience like no other.

After spending just over a week there, seeing the sites, taking in the lifestyle and getting WAY OUT of my comfort zone, here are my top 5 things to do…

1. Blue Lagoon: 
Kicking it off strong, the Blue Lagoon is nestled half an hour drive out of the main town. Simply pay $1000VT (roughly $14NZD) and smack, bam, wazoo you’re there. Imagine the most beautiful mix of aqua, turquoise and teal, then times that by 1000 and you might just have a picture of the colour scheme we’re working with. Super easy to swim in, and with a rope swing included, be sure to pack reef shoes (I donned some beaut jelly shoes to keep it stylish) for getting down. Now I really know how the Blue Lagoon drink got the name.

2. Jill’s Cafe: 
Food is a biggie while you’re here, and although french cuisine is huge on this island, you can’t go past the sweet mexican selection at Jill’s Cafe. Right in the middle of town, and fashioned in a circus style font (trust me to notice) Jill’s Cafe is really reasonably priced, quickly catered and the selection will have you ordering a few crowd favourites like nachos, burritos and american hot dogs the way you like ’em.

3. Waterfalls:
Didn’t TLC teach you not to go chasing them?! Well, this is the one moment I’ll recommend you not take their advice. The waterfalls are a bit of a hike, but once you get there it’ll all be worth it. Pay $1500VT then climb up the stairs, walk along the path, and trek through small rivers to finally reach the super large waterfalls. Climb up them (Reef shoes super recommended) to get as high as you can and relax in the naturally formed pools below each cascade. Bring your camera for this one, water resistant if possible.

4. Snorkeling: 
You have to do it if you’re on a tropical island (unless you’re like me and even tiny fish scare the bejesus out of you) and Vanuatu is no exception when it comes to snorkeling experiences. Surrounded by coral reef, stay on the surface and be amazed by the sealife community of starfish, eels and fish of all shapes and sizes down below. Bring your snorkel gear with you, or simply hire at most resorts. A true Little Mermaid moment!

5. Fire Dance: 
A classic for experiencing the talent and culture on the island. Fire dance performances are dotted all over the island on different nights of the week, so look out for the timetable when at a resort or bar. They are absolutely free, entertaining and fun, I even got the opportunity to go up and dance at the end in the rain, it was like Flashdance!

I loved the trip oh so much, but boy did it get the heart racing at points. You need to get used to driving on the other side of the road, ’cause that’s how they roll over there, you also need to have a sweet cushioned bottom for all the potholes you’re bound to hit.

I felt like I was completing a defensive driving test one evening when the brakes failed on me, conveniently heading down a hill and around a corner (we survived somehow, thanks for the concern).

Not so good with bugs? You will be after this trip. Imagine moths, flying cockroaches and spiders the size of an entree; mosquito nets will become your best friend while sleeping, and you’ll learn how to tuck yourself in really well.

Christine Stucki