Monday, June 22, 2015


Our last stop in Vanuatu was the island of Efate, more specifically the city of Port Vila. Efate was our least favorite destination in Vanuatu, mainly because it was much more crowded and developed compared to the other islands. Accommodation is expensive there (more than $100/night), as is food and transportation. After much deliberation about where to stay for our last 2 nights in Vanuatu, we ended up at the Traveller's Budget Motel, which I cannot recommend enough. The owners, Jack and Janelle, greeted us immediately when we arrived and helped us to plan our time on the island.
Just because Port Vila is the biggest city in Vanuatu doesn't mean that the baggage claim area is more sophisticated there!
The outside entrance to Traveller's Budget Motel
On our first afternoon in Port Vila we walked to town and found Jill's Cafe, an American-style diner where we indulged in huge burgers and split a delicious thick shake. We were craving western food after our time in Tanna eating lots and lots of root vegetables. We checked out the local market where we were surprised to see that we could still purchase fresh coconuts for only 20 cents. Of course we bought a few and also picked up a pineapple, because pineapples in Vanuatu are too-die-for! Port Vila is a major stop for many cruise ships, so there were cruise passengers out and about in town, another reason we were a bit turned off by Port Vila.
Port Vila's market
After a short walk around town we headed back to the motel and decide to check out the gym across the street. It had been a while since we had been able to get to a gym, so we paid $7 each to work out in a ridiculously hot gym with old school equipment on very full stomachs from our "American" style lunch. Fortunately we were able to relax in our motel pool after the session! While hanging out poolside we met some Irish doctors who are ex-pats in Brisbane. Ironically we were actually with them at the RiRi blue hole on the island of Santo about a week prior to this meeting! We enjoyed chatting with them late into the evening.
A good spot to relax!
In the morning I woke up feeling quite ill. I had felt a cold of some sort coming on over a few days but being pregnant I pretty much couldn't take anything to make me feel better. As a result of me not feeling well, we had a bit of a lazy morning and then caught the bus (which is a great way to get around Efate) to the Mele Cascades. The Cascades are waterfalls which we learned are expensive ($20 per person) to visit and also attract LOTS of cruisers. The waterfalls are nice and they are fun to play in but there were just so many people around that it wasn't all that enjoyable. We ended up finding some smaller pools to hang out in to avoid the crowds and we stayed there for a few hours.
The main waterfall at Mele Cascades
A quieter and more enjoyable place to hang out
From the Cascades we walked about 3km to a place Jack had recommended called the Beach Bar, where we split a pizza and a fruit smoothie for lunch. Prices for food here were pretty similar to Australia, so again, not cheap.
We encountered a wild pig on our walk to the Beach Bar!
We took a ferry over to Hideaway Island, where we were told there was good snorkeling. Of course they charged us to enter the island (about $13 per person!), but we did see lots of colorful fish and a pretty cool underwater post box from which you can actually mail letters. There were also nice beach chairs to relax on while we enjoyed some happy hour specials (non-alcoholic drinks are not quite as exciting, however!) and watched the sunset.
Hideaway Island
A good way to end the day
That night we chatted with the Irish doctors again (who also provided me with some medical advice and some pregnancy-safe medications!), telling stories of our travels within and outside of Australia. They were not too fond of Efate either and were disappointed that they had left themselves with too much time in Port Vila on the end of their trip. Erik and I were certainly happy that we only had two nights in Vila and if we were to go to Vanuatu again I think we would avoid Efate if possible.
Port Vila is pretty but crowded compared to other islands we visited
We woke up the next morning (Christmas morning!), FaceTimed our families, and then headed to the airport to catch a plane to our next destination, Fiji!
Our plane after landing in Fiji on Christmas morning!