Efate Island (Most people will know this place as it’s nation’s capital, Port Vila), Vanuatu was my first overseas destination that I was fortunate enough to travel to. Whenever people ask me about my favourite places to travel to, Vanuatu is always at the top of my list. It’s a place I always say that holds my heart and a place that keeps drawing me back.
Spaning across 1,300km of the South Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu lies to the east of Australia and northeast of New Caledonia. Even though Vanuatu is made up of over 80 individual islands, there are 3 main islands that are popular with tourists, Efate, Espiritu Santo and Tanna.
Unfortunately for me, I have only been to the island of Efate, (I do hope to get to the others someday soon) so, today’s post is going to be about this beautiful island and my favourite places to visit while there.
Despite being the most popular island to travellers, Efate is Vanuatu’s third largest island, but it is home to the capital, Port Vila. It’s surrounded by, rugged coastlines, stunning coral reefs and its mountain backdrops along with blue holes and waterfalls are popular amongst tourists.
I know for me, when the idea of first going to Vanuatu was toyed around, I have two options. Vanuatu or Fiji. After some careful research, I knew after seeing the lush landscape and waterfalls in photographs that it was a no brainer. I wanted to visit Vanuatu. From that very first trip, Vanuatu held my traveller’s heart!
Some of my favourite places and activities to see and do on the island are:
- Mele Cascades – The Mele Cascades are a stunning natural attraction famous for their brilliant blue waters and incredible views. The waterfalls are situated only a short 10-15 minute drive away from the capital of Port Vila and even though you can book a tour to go to this little paradise, visitors are welcome to explore on their own. When I visited, my sister and I booked a private tour with a local where we were treated to morning tea as well that consisted of fruits found on the island.
- Irriki Island – A short boat ride from Port Vila, Irriki is a small resort island where you can snorkel or lounge around. The day we ventured over, we explored the resort, ate at one of the restaurants for lunch and lounged around by the pool, listening to reggae music.
- Hideway Island / Underwater Post office – When most people think of Vanuatu they think of the underwater post office. The Underwater Post Office is situated within the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary in approximately 3 metres of water. It’s proximity to the beach makes it easy for swimmers and snorkelers to post special “waterproof postcards”. As for someone who isn’t a snorkeller, it’s quite easy to get to. The island itself is absolutely stunning. A perfect little tropical island with white sands, clear water surrounded by reef. You do pay to get onto the Island but it is only a small fee. Just make sure you bring some kind of reef shoes due to the sharp coral / shells on the beach and in the water.
- Blue Lagoon (Eton Natural Pools) – Now, this is my favourite place and definitely a must see! The lagoon is absolutely stunning and I will be the first to admit that pictures don’t do this place (or anywhere in Vanuatu) justice. The Blue Lagoon fills with clear blue water from an underground freshwater spring. With the Blue Lagoon Swimming Hole positioned next to the sea, uniquely its fresh water at low tide and salt water at high tide. Here you can swing from trees, swim, have a picnic etc. Travel time to the Blue lagoon is about 1.5 hours from Port Vila by car but well worth the drive.
- Crystal Blue Turtle Sanctuary – This place wasn’t far from the blue lagoon but the the drive along the coastline is absolutely stunning and one of my favourites. The turtle sanctuary itself is quite nice. Here you get to feed large green sea turtles, you can also have a tour around the sanctuary itself and look at the other animals. They have iguanas, coconut crabs, chickens, pigs etc. There are a few turtle places on the island but by far this one is the best.
- Shopping – I love strolling around the little markets in Port Vila to see what the locals have on offer. You can usually pick up some nice souvenirs from wooden carvings, to handmade clothing. You can usually also pick up local fruit and vegetable to take back to your hotel.
Despite what is listed above, there is so much more to see and do!
As Vanuatu holds my heart, I’m interested to see what place holds yours?