Travel Guides is one of V&T’s favourite TV shows, and we were thrilled to see them jet off to tropical Vanuatu showcasing the best places to stay and play.
Located just a 2.5-hour flight from Brisbane, Vanuatu is a stunning South Pacific paradise known for its untouched landscapes, authentic culture and warm, welcoming vibes.
Travel Guides’ Kevin and Janetta rave about Erakor Island Resort and Aore Island Resort. While Dorian and Teng delve into the Matevulu Blue Hole and Riri Blue Hole and zip through the jungle in ATVs with Off Road Adventures.
Here’s an insider guide to everywhere the Travel Guides ate, stayed and explored in Vanuatu.
Aore Island Resort
Everything inch of Aore Island Resort feels like a touch of luxury. From the private ferry to the island to the fresh welcome coconuts and personalised greetings from the resort’s owners.
The resort offers a series of 18 private bungalows (each with waterfront views!) scattered across its grounds, surrounded by lush tropical gardens and brought together by an open-air pavilion that serves as part bar-part dining space-part chill out space with an Instagrammable design.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, with local produce at the forefront. Hot tip: one of Aore’s fresh lime margaritas goes down a treat while the sun sets.
There are activities at Aore, with the resort inviting local Ni-Vanuatu communities to share basket weaving lessons, sand drawing culture, coconut tree climbing, and to perform water music, where women drum the ocean to create an ethereal tune that’s unlike anything in this world.
Riri Blue Hole
While this stunning blue hole has no association with Rhianna herself, it is one of the prettiest blue holes in Santo. Blue holes are giant sinkholes in the earth where fresh water has seeped through the porous rock bed to create a stunning swimming spot… and Santo is brimming with them.
The Riri Blue Hole is accessible by car. Still, arriving by dugout canoe via a nearby river is most spectacular – dugout canoes made by locals from a hollowed-out tree. Once there, float the day away in the blue hole’s waters.
Matevulu Blue Hole
Just up the road from Riri Blue Hole, Matevulu Blue Hole is a fierce competitor for the prettiest blue hole in Santo. Accessible by car, a dirt track gives way to a lush jungle before the blue hole’s glittery waters emerge to audible ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. Similarly, float the day away in the Matevulu Blue Hole’s refreshing waters or dive in from the heights of a rope swing. Just snap and send a picture to all friends and family for maximum holiday bragging.
Leweton Cultural Experience
Vanuatu’s culture and customs are so wonderfully different to everyday life in Australia and largely remain untouched and unaffected by modern life. Across Vanuatu, cultural villages and experiences give travellers a taste of the country’s kastom. The Leweton Cultural Experience is one of the best-known.
At Leweton, visitors are greeted with a spirited warrior welcome before being treated to traditional dances and songs (yes, there is crowd participation – be warned!), a Melanesian food tasting in a bush kitchen and a fresh kava tasting. Not to forget the sounds of magical water music.
At the heart of why Lewiston offers these experiences in the village is to keep kastom and culture alive and share with future generations.
Efate (Port Vila)
Erakor Island Resort
With its family-fun games, nightly events, home-away-from-home villas and ‘out-of-office-for-the-summer’ vibe-, a stay at Erakor Island Resort is one no traveller will forget.
Located on a private (yes, private!) island just off the central shores of Efate, each of Erakor’s 33 bungalows is steps from the water, surrounded by classic tropical gardens (think palm trees, palm trees and more palm trees) and complemented by amenities like an epic kid’s playground, lawn games, a pool (with waterslide) and a rolling offering of daily activities like hermit crab racing, coconut chip making, fishing, volleyball, clear bottom kayaking, snorkelling, grass skirt making and more.
Tuesday nights are for pizza and movies under the stars, while Thursday nights are for the resort’s famed Melanesian Feast and Fire Show, featuring a Melanesian buffet, kava tasting, traditional dancing, music from a local band and a fire show. On other nights, the resort’s waterfront restaurant is a go-to.
Port Vila Markets
You can tell a lot about a place from its produce market, and nowhere does that ring more true than the Port Vila Markets.
These covered markets are the heart and soul of downtown Port Vila, situated right in its centre along the waterfront. On any given day, there’ll be Mamas proudly showing off fresh fruits and vegetables grown by their own hand, flower sellers hawking tropical blooms, a musician or two strumming a reggaeton tune and chefs preparing lunch for a steal.
It’s a place to pick up a snack, enjoy a tasty lunch and generally take in the sights, sounds and smells of the heart of Vanuatu. Entry is free; lunch at the markets is approximately $10 per person.
Tranquility Island Resort Turtle Conservation
Hawksbill turtles, which swim in the waters off Efate, are one of the most endangered species on the planet. This is why the team at Tranquility Island Resort has set up its Turtle Sanctuary and Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program, which sees it raise hatchlings from birth until one year old before tagging and releasing them into the ocean.
David Attenborough wannabes can visit the resort, sponsor a baby hawksbill and help release a tagged hawksbill into the sea if the timing is right.
Day trips to Tranquillity Islan Resort start at $118 per adult and $59 per child aged 12 and under (kids under 5 go free) and include return ferry transfers from Port Vila, a cruise around Moso Island, and a BBQ.
Off Road Adventures
Conjure up an image of a Vanuatu vacation, and it’s likely all poolside cocktails, snorkelling at the beach and dining on fresh island fare. Add zipping through the jungle in an ATV with mud flying everywhere to the mix! Off Road Adventure’s crew are pros at what they do. They take visitors on hair-raising drives designed to get them dirty and see parts of Vanuatu’s landscape they wouldn’t usually see. Prices start from $100 per adult and $75 per child aged 5-15.
The Travel Guides flew to Vanuatu with the country’s national carrier, Air Vanuatu, which is currently running a special offer – return flights starting at just $580 from Australia. Visit airvanuatu.com to book. To learn more about Vanuatu, the Travel Guides itinerary or find an accommodation deal here.
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