This was our first overseas holiday since Beatrix was born in December 2012. I ummed and ahhed for a long time trying to decide where to go. I think I was traumatised from our last international flight in 2011, where we flew from London via Hong Kong to Sydney with Camilla who was 21 months old at the time. It was such a long flight that I couldn’t bear doing it again, especially not with two kids. So we decided to go somewhere relatively close to Sydney. We had been to New Zealand already, so that was out. So in the end we were left with Fiji, New Caledonia or Vanuatu.
We picked Vanuatu because…
1. It is less than 3.5 hours from Sydney.
2. It has more activities to do than Fiji. We didn’t like the idea of been stuck in a resort.
3. It is a relatively safe country with very low crime.
We went in late October (20 to 26 October) and the weather was hot and humid! May to October is supposed to be the best time to visit as it is the dry season. We had four overcast days and the rest were sunny. We had rain on two days but it was the usual tropical torrential rain that only lasted a couple of hours. It was actually good that it was overcast, it didn’t feel as humid that way.
How did we get there?
We flew with Air Vanuatu. They have three scheduled flights everyday. Great little airline, with good food and baggage inclusive of airfare price.
Where did we stay?
I was looking for a hotel that had a Kids Club, as Camilla is now three years old and needed something else apart from the swimming pool to keep her entertained. After speaking to a few travel agents the Holiday Inn in Port Vila was suggested. As always I checked the reviews on TripAdvisor and decided it was the hotel for us.
The staff at the hotel were very nice. Be mindful that the Vanuatu people are very laid back and you will not get the welcome or warmth you are used to in Australia. We stayed in room 221 which was a standard room with two comfortable double beds and a cot for Beatrix. It was spacious and met our needs. It also had a nice view of the golf course and lagoon.
Camilla loved the kids club and lived there for most of our stay. She made lots of new friends!
I found a holiday package with Holiday Specialists. I booked two months before so I probably could have found a cheaper deal if I had booked in advance. For two adults, one toddler and an infant we paid a total of $2659. This included airfares, accommodation and the transfer from/to Airport.
Food at the hotel was expensive, it was in par with what we pay in Sydney. The Buffet meal was VT 3700 ($40 AUD). A la carte meals were VT 1500 to 2800 ($15 to $30AUD). We had lunch in town most days. Our favourite place to eat was Jill’s Cafe, they served American type fast food food that wasn’t too expensive and was very tasty.
Transport is very cheap. Mini Buses are available everywhere in Vanuatu, flag one down, tell them where you want to go and hopefully you will get there quickly. Sometimes they have other passengers and it can take a while to get to your destination as they are picking and dropping other passengers on the drive. Cost per person on the mini bus is VT 150 ($1.65 AUD). The other option is to catch a taxi which will take you straight to your destination and only cost VT500 ($5.50) for the ride regardless of how many passengers.
Activities outside of the Resort
With two kids under the age of three in tow it was hard to get out and about. We did however manage to go to the town centre everyday for lunch. Vanuatu is not pram friendly, so don’t bother taking it anywhere outside of the airport or resort. We took our baby bjorn carrier with us and used it absolutely everywhere we went. There is a playground which we found towards the end of our stay, it was great for Camilla to hang out with the local kids. It’s at the back of Jill’s Cafe overlooking the sea.
The local markets are worth a visit, they are open 24/7. You will find a variety of local produce that vary according to the season. There is also a small section in the markets where the locals hang out and the national dish, laplap, and other Ni-Vanuatu dishes are served. We had a look but were not brave enough to try the local food.
We only did one tour, we visited the Mele Cascades with Evergreen tours, cost was VT3200 ($37 AUD)each adullt. Kids were free.
The walk up to the waterfall was fun and our tour guide was very informative stopping along the way to show native plants.
I took Camilla almost all the way to the top of the waterfall but it got a tad scary as the rocks were getting slippery. I was holding her so tight that her wrists were a little red once we got back down to the bottom. Kimble went all the way to the top and said it was very pretty. The water was very cold and not many people were swimming. It was great to get out of the resort and see the “real” Port Vila. There are many other tours but we decided not to do them as they involved either going to other resorts, or snorkeling. We were happy at the Holiday Inn hanging out by the pool, using the catamarans and kayaks at the lagoon.
We had a good time .We were only there for six nights. It took a few days to unwind and finally relax. But one week was more than enough for us. It was too hot and humid. We also weren’t impressed with the food at the resort or the restaurants downtown. The food was really average to what we are used to back in Sydney. We are very spoiled back home. We will probably return one day when the girls are older so that we can explore more and go on adventurous tours. Vanuatu is definitely a good alternative to places like Fiji and is perfect for young families who want to get away but don’t want to travel too far.