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Exploring Efate, Vanuatu

A lovely way to end the summer holidays

sunny 32 °C

It turns out those FaceBook competitions aren't always scams....back in April I entered a competition run by Vanuatu Tourism in conjunction with Air Vanuatu and The Terraces Boutique Apartments in Port Vila to win a 4 night luxury holiday. In August I received a phonecall to say I was the winner and the very next day I booked our flights and apartment still not quite believing it!

The flight to Vanuatu was only about a third full so we had a spare seat between us and had been given the exit row meaning we had so much leg room that I couldn't touch the seat in front even with my legs fully stretched out. It was only a 3 hour flight to Port Vila so the flight was soon over and we quickly got through customs. The Terraces had arranged an airport transfer for us and Port Vila is not that big so we were in our accommodation within about 15 minutes.

Our apartment was very spacious and had everything you could want, including robes and umbrellas. We even had our own plunge pool on the deck.
After having a good look around we headed for bed as we were still on New Zealand time (2 hours ahead) and it was getting late.

The Terraces is next door to the resort Mangoes and as part of the prize breakfast was included each morning in their restaurant. After breakfast we made the 15 minute walk into Port Vila town to book a hire car as all the ones at Mangoes had already been rented out. Turns out we got a much better price with Europcar and we got a free upgrade as they didn't have any left in the price range we requested. The one thing they strongly advised was to get a 4 wheel drive, so we did and we were so glad (more on that later!).

Once we got our car we decided to drive the ring road around the island which is approximately 150km. Our first stop out of town was to collect a geocache. We parked up and walked through farmland to reach the lookout point where the cache was hidden. Even though it was only 10.30am it was already about 30 degrees and walking uphill was hot, sweaty work!
Once the cache was found we continued on our journey. We passed many little beaches with white sand and turquoise waters but had made the rookie mistake of not getting any cash out....every beach had a fee to access it ranging from VT300 up to VT1000 so we had to keep on driving. We stopped off at a nice looking resort on the beach for lunch only to find out that their internet was down so we couldn't pay by card!
Onwards we went until we spotted a sign for a restaurant down a side road. This side road soon turned into a narrow dusty, pot hole filled track and now we were starting to see why a 4 wheel drive had been recommended. Eventually we arrived at Divi's, a very cute tapas place on the beach which also had beach side accommodation. We had a delicious late lunch and thankfully were able to pay with our credit card!
We got home early evening and still full from lunch decided to skip dinner and just have dessert and drinks in Mangoes restaurant, we then headed back to watch one of the many movies on offer in the apartment before heading to bed.

The next morning we stopped off in town to get some cash out and then headed to the office of Vanuatu Jungle Zipline as we had heard good things and were keen to give it a go. Their credit card machine was out of action so they told us to pay once we got there as we had chosen the 'self drive' option rather than the transfer to and from town. This is when we really realised the importance of having a 4 wheel drive! The main ring road is full of pretty big pot holes but the road to the zip line was incredibly steep, bumpy and narrow. It was several kms of Gerald driving slowly and carefully to reach the summit barely getting out of first gear!
We arrived and once again the credit card machine was not accepting our card! Thankfully the manager kindly let us use his wifi so we could pay via online banking and not miss out. They offered 2 different courses and Gerald and I were the only 2 that had signed up for the Trek tour rather than the Canopy tour. Our tour offered an extra zipline, totalling 7 ziplines, but involved some jungle trekking between each line rather than being in the canopy the whole time. We had a fantastic time and the views were incredible as we crossed over the canyon. The place has been set up by an ex military Australian guy so it was very professional and it would be good to visit again in the future as he has lots of plans he wants to carry out.
After ziplining we headed for lunch nearby at Island Magic Resort, we both had seafood whilst admiring the view of the sea. Seafood is plentiful being an island and also very tasty. I had poulet fish which is on all the menus in Vanuatu and Gerald had prawns. We left very satisfied.
Vanuatu is not a cheap place for dining but the food is good and we never felt hungry after a meal.
Our next stop was Eton beach which we had passed the day before but not been able to visit as we didn't have VT1000 in cash. We spent an enjoyable few hours swimming and reading our books in the afternoon sun.

Travelling the roads of Efate is quite amusing as it seems the more people you can get in your vehicle the better! Health and Safety does not appear to be an issue!
We had dinner at Mangoes that night and it was delicious, we also timed it right for happy hour which was a bonus!

The next day we decided to spend the morning at the Terraces infinity pool. There was only one other couple there and we soon got chatting to them and exchanged travel stories.
We headed into town for lunch but it was pretty busy as a cruise ship was in so as soon as we finished lunch we hit the road.
We headed to the Blue Lagoon, another place we had spotted on our first day but couldn't enter due to having no cash. The entrance for the lagoon was VT1000 each. We enjoyed having a swim in the lagoon and watching people use the rope swing to jump into the lagoon. The water is a beautiful colour and a nice refreshing temperature.
That night we had dinner at Stonegrill, we both had steak and chips followed by dessert, in true Vanuatu style they came over to say that the credit card machine was not working so Gerald had to do a quick drive to the nearest ATM! If we ever go to Vanuatu again we will definitely go with lots of cash! They were very apologetic and gave us a couple of salted caramel vodka shots each, as Gerald was driving he had one and I had three as they were absolutely divine!

Before we knew it our last day had arrived. We spent a couple of hours on our deck and in the plunge pool before packing and heading back to the airport to drop off the hire car and head home, saying goodbye to the sights of Vanuatu and realising just how lucky we were to have won this prize!

Posted by bumblebum 17:47 Archived in Vanuatu

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Salted caramel VODKA shots ! LOL

by Mary

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